Albania flag 30 x 46 cm
The national flag of Albania (Albanian: Flamuri i Shqipërisë) is a red flag with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the centre. It is the only red and black flag of a recognised sovereign state.
The eagle is the national and ethnic symbol of the Albanians and was used for heraldric purposes during the Middle Ages by a number of Albanian noble families, including the Kastrioti, whose most famous member was Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg. The Kastrioti's coat of arms, depicting a double-headed eagle on a red field, became famous when he led a revolt against the Ottoman Empire that resulted in brief independence for some regions of Albania from 1443 to 1478. It is generally thought that the eagle derived from the double-headed eagle of the House of Palaiologos, one of the ruling dynasties of the Byzantine Empire.
The symbol was re-used by Albanian nationalists during the 19th century as a symbol of their campaign for the country's independence from the Ottoman Empire. On 28 November 1912, the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Vlora and the flag was adopted as the symbol of the new nation.
The flag has gone through a number of changes over the years as different regimes have modified it; for instance, royalist regimes added a crown above the eagle, while the post-war communist regime added a red star and, briefly, a hammer and sickle. However, the original plain design of the flag was reintroduced on 7 April 1992 after the collapse of the communist government.
Albania's civil ensign and naval ensign, both maritime flags are different from the national flag. The civil ensign consists of three horizontal bands of red, black, and red. The naval ensign is similar to the national flag, except that the eagle is on a white field, and the lower portion of the flag has a red stripe. The eagle of the flag of Albania is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 5 lekë coin, issued in 1995 and 2000.
The flag of Albania is also widely though unofficially flown in Kosovo by the country's ethnic Albanian population. It was the symbol of the unrecognised Republic of Kosova during the 1990s. The current independent state of Kosovo uses a different flag that was designed to avoid any symbols associated with a particular ethnic group.