The Costa Rican flag consists of five horizontal stripes in blue, white, and red. The red stripe, which is located in the center, represents the Costa Rican people. Red is chosen to stand for their love to live and the blood they have shed for their freedom. The red stripe is twice the width of the others. On either side of the red strip is a white stripe. The white stripes represent peace and happiness. The blue stripes on the outer edges represent opportunity, intellect, idealism, and spiritual desires.
There is also a second flag, the Pabellon Nacional, that has the Costa Rican shield on the red stripe. This flag is used in schools, government offices, and on merchant ships. The shield has representations of the seven provinces, the geographic make up of the country, and the words “Republica de Costa Rica” (Republic of Costa Rica) in gold lettering.
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History of the Costa Rican Flag
The flag that Costa Rica originally used was the federal flag of the United Provinces of Central America, which had white-blue-white stripes. After the five provinces in the federation became independent countries, Costa Rica continued to base its flag on the Central American banner until 1848.
First Lady Pacífica Fernández Oreamuno designed the current Costa Rican flag in 1848. The First Lady admired was an admirer of France and had the flag modeled after the French flag after the French Revolutionary War. It was created to encompass the ideals of equality, freedom, and brotherhood. This flag was officially adopted on November 27th, 1906.
The national shield on the Pabellon Nacional first appeared at the behest of President Jose María Castro Madriz in 1848. The shield has since been redesigned twice, once in 1906 and again in in 1964. The first change in 1906 removed all war elements from the flag, including cannons and rifles. This was done in order to highlight the peacefulness and civility of the Costa Rican people. The 1964 change added two additional stars representing Limon and Puntarenas, the two new provinces.
With the exception of the shield, the flag that was first adopted in 1848 has flown unchanged over Cost Rica.