FLAGS AND THE STORIES BEHIND THEM

Flags of most countries of the world have interesting stories that are a mix of their political, cultural and social histories. Here are six flags with unique backstories.

NEPAL

One of the only non-quadrilateral flags in the world, this one consists of two crimson-red triangles, with a deep blue border. While the red symbolises bravery, it is also the colour of the rhododendron, the colour of Nepal's national flower. The blue signifies peace. The current flag was adopted in 1962 along with the formation of a new constitutional government.

AUSTRIA

Legend has it that the flag of Austria was inspired by the colour of blood. The flag is believed to have been invented by Duke Leopold V of Austria, who, during a fierce battle, was drenched in blood. Every bit of his white surcoat was soaked in blood, except the portion underneath his belt. When he removed his belt, a white strip was revealed and the duke was struck by the combination of red-white-red and he is said to have adopted the colours as his banner. The flag's first recorded use is believed to be in 1230.

BHUTAN

A white druk sprawls across the flag of Bhutan. Druk in Bhutanese means dragon. Known as the 'Land of the Thunder Dragon', it seems only fair that the flag carries an image of the mythical creature. The flag was designed in 1947, but the current design with yellow and orange has been in use since 1969. The white of the dragon signifies the purity of inner thoughts and deeds and it holds a jewel in each of its claws. The flag of Wales also sports a red dragon.

SOUTH SUDAN

Adopted in 2005, the flag of South Sudan is one of the newest in the world. It was adopted after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the second Sudanese Civil War. The flag is older than the country itself-South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. While it carries the pan-African colours, the blue in the flag symbolises the Nile river, the country's lifeline.

DENMARK

The flag of Denmark holds the record for being the oldest continuously-used national flag. A deep red with a white cross, the flag is believed to have its origins in the 14th century. When the Danes were about to lose the battle against the Estonian tribes in 1219, the flag is said to have miraculously fallen from the sky, filling the Danish troops with hope and courage. The Danes won the war, too.

BOTSWANA

A flag that asks for rain. The blue colour of the flag of Botswana, a semi-arid region in the Kalahari desert, is a prayer for rain. The colour also symbolises hope. The black and white stripes indicate racial harmony. It is one of the few African flags that dont use red, yellow or green, which most African nations use as part of Pan Africanism, a movement that aims to strengthen bonds between the African indigenous groups.

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Does Nigeria have a history of military dictatorships?

           Nigeria has been home to a number of ancient and indigenous kingdoms and states over the millennia. However, the modern state of Nigeria largely dates back to the British colonial rule that started in the 19th century; its present territory took shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria in 1914.



          Nigeria became independent in 1960 and in 1963; the country adopted a republican constitution. The country also underwent military dictatorships; Nigerians witnessed bloodshed and violence by various groups. This continued until 1999; that was when a stable democracy came to power.   



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Why did the French launch Operation Serval?



















          The mystical place Timbuktu is very famous. The famous trading region is situated in modern day Mali. Mali was once part of the three great pre-colonial Sudanic empires: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.



          France seized control of Mali in the late 19th century and made it a part of French Sudan. In 1959, French Sudan joined with Senegal and became known as the Mali Federation, though later Senegal withdrew from the federation.



          An armed conflict broke out in northern Mali in 2012; Tuareg rebels took control of a territory called Azawad. The issue was worsened by the involvement of the military. The French military launched Operation Serval in this context.



          Within a month after its launch in January 2013, Malian and French forces recaptured most of the north.



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How did Botswana get its name?

















           Botswana is named after its dominant ethnic group, the Tswana. Botswana is Africa‚Äôs oldest and longest continuous multi-party democracy.



          The country held its first general elections based on the 1965 constitution that granted universal suffrage and it gained independence on 30 September 1966. Till then, Botswana was a British protectorate known as Bechuanaland.



         Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement became the first President following the elections. He was re-elected twice. The eleventh election was the most recent which was held on 24 October 2014. Though one of the poorest and least developed countries, Botswana was largely stable.



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Is Morocco the only monarchy in North Africa?

















          Africa is the homeland of many empires and kingdoms who practised powerful monarchical rule. Today Morocco is the only monarchy in North Africa; it is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. It is also the fifth largest economy in Africa.



         King Idris founded the first Moroccan state in 788 AD. Since then, the country has been ruled by a series of independent dynasties. Morocco reached the heights of glory under the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. The Alaouite dynasty came to power in 1631 and rules to this day.



          Morocco was under French protection from 1912 to 1956. Sultan Mohammed became the king during this period. In 1961, he was succeeded by his son, Hassan II. He ruled for 38 years and played a prominent role in the search for peace in the Middle East. Ironically, he also ruthlessly suppressed domestic opposition.



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