National Geographic : 1961 Sep
highest hopes for brotherhood on earth. Inspired by a symbol designed for the San Francisco Conference of 1945, when the United Nations was born, the pale-blue banner bears an emblem befitting the greatness, and the simplicity, of its cause. The map in its center depicts the globe, viewed from the North Pole; projected to 600 south latitude, it em braces every continent except Antarctica. Olive branch es, age-old token of peace, wreathe the insignia. To nations throughout the world, the simple blue and white U.N. banner stands for human dignity, wherever it flies: atop a thatch hut in the Congo; along a boundary line in Jerusalem; above a cemetery in Korea. Soldiers have raised it above battlefield armistice lines; scientists have hoisted it at Antarctic research stations; doctors have flown it above jungle hospitals. The United Nations emblem has become a battle flag, a universal rallying point, in the crusade against turmoil, poverty, and disease. So highly regarded is the ensign that U.N. member nations have decreed it "shall not be subordi nated to any other flag." On Statesman's Death, U.N. Banner Flies Alone Strict rules govern the handling of the flags flown in a 420-foot arc in the United Nations Plaza. Six members of the Security Guard raise the 100 banners each morn ing of the year, except when heavy rain or high winds threaten. On the death of a chief of state or officer of the United Nations, all national ensigns-including that of the official's own country-are run down for a full day, and only the United Nations colors remain flying, at appropriate half-staff. The Secretary-General of the United Nations com memorates the election of a new member state by raising the country's flag in the plaza. For one day it flies at a place of honor in the center of the array, then takes its place in alphabetical order. There it stands, to remind each delegate or visitor from the home country-wheth er it be the smallest of states or one of the giants of the world -that all voices shall be heard in this forum. The nylon banners, although durable and dyed with care, must be replaced twice each year, as a result of wind and weather. To present the 99 national flags in full color, together with their histories, the National Geographic Society's staff spent nearly a year gathering data and designs from ministries, embassies, and heraldic experts of the coun tries concerned. Countless problems arose: In some of the newly in dependent nations, for example, flag regulations were still in the drafting stage. Other countries commonly use two emblems: the national flag and the government flag - usually identical except for a coat of arms. In such cases the Society has presented the government design. Finally, six artists of the Society's cartographic divi sion reproduced each one to the last detail. The result, on the following pages, is the most accurate and up-to-date record ever presented of the flags of the United Nations. 334 AFGHANISTAN's flag mirrors a turbulent past. Black stands for centuries of hardship wrought by foreign invasions; red symbolizes wars for inde pendence. Green stripe signifies prosperity. The mosque in the center reflects the nation's Is lamic character. Area: 251, 000 square miles. Population: 13,150,000. Capital: Kabul. Joined U.N. 1946. ALBANIA Legend says Alba nians descended from an eagle; the bird adorns the colors in two-headed form, surmounted by a star added in 1945. A member of the Soviet bloc since World War II, Albania recently strengthened its ties with Communist China. Area: 11,100 square miles. Popula tion: 1,581,000. Capital: Tirane. Joined U.N. 1955. BZI ARGENTINA Emblazoned with the "Sun of May," the standard commemorates free dom from Spain; liberty's rays burst upon Argentinians on May 25, 1810. Blue and white bands honor the 19th-century "Patricios"regiment. Area: 1,072,745 square miles. Popula tion: 20,956,000. Capital:Bue nos Aires. U.N. chartermember.