Ethiopian Institute for Nonviolence Education and Peace Studies

Flags of Ethiopia

The flag of Ethiopia consists of three equal horizontal stripes - the top stripe is green; the middle is yellow; and the bottom stripe is red. Green symbolizes the land and its fertility, yellow for peace and harmony between Ethiopia’s various ethnic and religious groups and  red represents power or African blood spilled in defence of the land. In the middle of the flag is the country's coat of arms and it is often seen without the emblem. 

Ethiopia is credited with establishing the green, yellow and red colors that have come to symbolize African independence and unity. Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state. The colors became known as Pan African colors. Sometimes black is added to these colors to represent the African people.  


Historical flags

et 1881

(1881 - 6 Oct 1897)


(6 Oct 1897 -  9 May 1936)


(5 May 1941 - 21 Mar 1974)

et1974(21 Mar 1974 - 12 Sep 1975)
et-plain 1975
(From 22 Sep 1975 Unofficial Flag) 
et 1975
 (12 Sep 1975 - 12 Sep 1987)
et 1987 
(12 Sep 1987 - 28 May 1991)
et 1996 
(6 Feb 1996 - Present)



The flag's tri-color (green, yellow and red) scheme has existed for several centuries. Generally, red represents blood spilled in defence of Ethiopia; yellow represents peace and harmony between Ethiopia's various ethnic and religious groups; and green symbolize hope, or the land and its fertility. In 1897, a year after Ethiopia decisively defended itself from colonial Italy at the Battle of Adwa, the red, green and yellow were used for the flag of the Empire.    

The royal flag often featured the emblem of a Lion of Judah, a crowned lion carrying a cross centred in the banner's yellow mid-section. The flag is understood to be a link between the Ethiopian church, the peoples, and the nation that was united. The processional cross carried by the lion was the former "flag" or symbol of Ethiopia, and has been in use since at least the early 17th century, as well. Whilst red is currently featured at the bottom of the horizontal tricolour, this was reversed until the mid-19th century.  Upon gaining independence from colonial rule, several newly-established countries in Africa adopted these three colours in homage to Ethiopia's resistance against foreign occupation. When adopted by Pan-Africanist polities and organizations for their activities, the colours are often referred to as the Pan-African colors.



The 'plain' flag is commonly seen across the nation and the world. During the Derg regime a number of different emblems were experimented with. However, the basic colour schematic has remained constant, but the imperial emblem was removed after Haile Selassie's overthrow. A five pointed star and rays over a cogwheel surrounded by a wreath of leaves was the featured emblem.

The star is yellow on a blue disc which overlaps the green and red stripes. The star testifies to Ethiopia's bright future and possibly echoes the connection with the House of King Solomon, while the yellow rays which it emits are equidistant and are said to represent the equality of all Ethiopians regardless of race, creed, or sex.


Coat of Arms

etiopst2 (1975-1987) etiopst1  125px-Coat of arms of Ethiopia 
the Empire the Derg the PDRE the FDRE

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