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República de Panama, Republic of Panama

Last modified: 2020-04-18 by rob raeside
Keywords: panama | america | star (blue) | star (red) | star: 2 | central america | colon |
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image by Ivan Sache, 3 June 2019

Flag adopted 20 December 1903
coat of arms adopted 4 June 1904 and legislated officially 15 December 1949.

Official Name: Republic of Panama (Republica de Panama)
Capital: Panama
Location: Central America
Government Type: Constitutional Democracy
Flag adopted: 28 March 1941 (First hoisted 20 December 1903)
Coat of Arms adopted: 4 June 1904
ISO Code: PA

See also:

Other sites:

The Flag

From www.pa/patria/simbolos.html, located by Jarig Bakker:
Flag of Panama
The Panamanian flag was design by Mr. Amador Guerrero and made by [his wife] Ms. Maria Ossa de Amador.
The Panamanian flag is a rectangle divided into four quarters: the top hoist one, white with a five-pointed blue star; the top fly one, red; the bottom hoist one, blue; and the bottom fly one, white with a five-pointed red star
The combination of its three colours has this meaning: white stands for the long-expected peace through the pacific union of the historical parties, the Liberal one represented by red and the Conservative one by blue.
Baptism of the Flag
On December 20th 1903 the emblem was baptised, acting as Godparents [sic] Dr. Gerardo Ortega with Ms. Lastenia de Lewis and Mr. José Agustín Arango with Ms. Manuela M. de Arosemena. Rev. Fray Bernardino de la Concepción García gave his blessing.
Legal adoption of the Flag (see Panama - flag law)
The Constituent Assembly provisionally approved the flag by Law 64 of 1904. It was definitively approved through Law 4 of 1925 written by the National Assembly and ratified by Law of March 28th 1941.
Translated by Santiago Dotor , 13 December 1999

From Smith [smi75]:
"The orderly division of the field suggested alternation of the parties at the helm of the government. blue and red were also associated with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which flank Panama."
From DK Pocket Book [udk97]: "Red was the colour of the Conservatives and blue that of the Liberals." Error?
Ivan Sache , 26 December 1999

Crampton - The World of Flags (1990: '...it is said that its colors stand for the Colorados (the "Reds", or radical party) and for the Conservatives, the traditional parties of the time, with white for peace. It was designed by the first President, Manuel Amador Guerrero [note], and first hoisted on 20 December 1903...'
The Encyclopedia (1999): 'The blue and red are the colors of the main political parties (Conservatives and Liberals respectively) and the white denotes peace between them. The blue also symbolizes the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, and the red stands for the blood of those who lost their lives for their country. The blue star represents the civic virtues of purity and honesty, and the red star is a symbol of authority and law.'
Jarig Bakker, 26 December 1999

Smith is totally incorrect, DK Pocket Book is incomplete. Crampton - The World of Flags (1990) got the red Liberal party wrong and the designer was Manuel Amador Jr., not the President Manuel Amador Guerrero.  The Encyclopedia (1999) is accurate and complete.
Alvaro Aguilar, 31 August 2001

The website www.pa/patria/simbolos.html (located by Jarig Bakker) has the text of the 1949 decree on use of the flag.  Article 2 has the following to say about proportions: "Article 2: The Flag of the Republic has the following dimensions:  three meters in length by two in width for those flown on public buildings, warships and merchant ships; one meter 80 centimeters in length by one meter 44 centimeters in width for the colors [pabellones] of units of infantry and artillery; of one meter square [for t]he standards of cavalry[.]  [F]lags for official automobiles will measure 47 centimeters in length by 32 centimeters in width."
My brackets are my emendation of a text that, on the website, actually says "...infantería y artillería; de un metro cuadrado. Los estandartes de caballería y las Banderas de los automóviles de uso oficial medirán ...."  This makes sense to me only if the period after "quadrado" is changed to a comma and a new sentence is begun after "caballería."  Otherwise the phrase "de un metro quadrado" doesn't apply to any flag, and the poor cavalrymen are left carrying an absurdly small standard.
The same site also has rules for vertical hoisting/rotate and reverse so the blue star is in the flag's upper right and the red one in the flag's lower left.
Joe McMillan, 20 September 2002

This gives ratios 2:3, 4:5, 1:1 and 32:47. The Album mentions possibility 1:2. Is there any legal background for that?
Sadly enough, the regulations says nothing on the size of the stars. Ivan estimates them to 30% of hoist, based on Flaggenbuch and Album.
Željko Heimer, 23 September 2002

The Mariner's Handbook, edit 0999, British HO Taunton, presents it as 1:2
Armand du Payrat, 23 September 2002

Note that the 4:5, 1:1, and 32:47 ratios are for very specialized uses.
Joe McMillan, 23 September 2002

One may then say that the Panamanian flag is simply 2:3, as we do for the others too. However, the main point I wanted to ask was regarding the 1:2 ratio, which seems is not legally sanctioned, but apparently used. I wonder if the use of that long flag might be happening only as an ensign - Panamanian ensign is among the most popular flags of convenience, and therefore there certainly are many ships carrying ensigns that not only are produced abroad from Panama, but probably haven't seen Panamanian coasts ever.
Željko Heimer, 24 September 2002

It was told that the Panamanian flag stands for hoped-for peace (white) between the Conservatives (blue) and Liberals (red).
A paragraph in Wikipedia's article on the history of the country may provide a clue - and if so it was the two factions in the country at the time of independence in 1821:
"Panama joined the independence bandwagon like most of the other Central American countries, in 1821. While Panama was of great historical importance to the Spanish Empire, the differences in social and economic status between the more liberal area of Azuero, and the much more royalist and conservative area of Veraguas displayed contrasting perspectives. It is, in fact, known that when the Grito de la Villa de Los Santos ["a unilateral decision by the residents of Azuero (without backing from Panama City) to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire."] occurred, Veraguas firmly opposed the motion for independence."
James Dignan, 22 April 2009

There is a "Protocol Manual for the Use of National Symbols" (my translation of the Spanish title) that was put out in 2006 by Comisión Nacional de Desfiles Patrios (National Commission of Patriotic Parades), a division of the Ministry of Education. This document stipulates that official proportions are 2:3 and gives star measurements as 0.5m on a 2m by 3m flag (p.17 in Manual). The only info I could not glean from the document is if the stars are 0.5 m from top point to bottom points or if it's inscribed within a 0.5 m circle (my illustrations use the circle).
Other formats are as follows (all outlined on p.17 in Manual): Infantry and Artillery version of the flag, dimensions 180:144. Cavalry version, dimensions 1:1. Car flag version, dimensions 32:47
Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009  

It is known that the first flag was hurriedly thrown together in secret, and many histories suggest that a mistake was made with its construction in that the red (rather than the blue) panel should have appeared in the upper hoist.
Christopher Southworth, 6 August 2009

Manuel E. Amador T. was the designer of it, not Manuel Amador Guerrero. This second person was his father, and first President of the Republic.
Maria De la Ossa de Amador, his adoptive mother, bought the fabric and with her sister-in-law Angelia B. de De la Ossa, made the first pair of flags, each one 2.25 m long. The flag was adopted on November 3 1903 at night, and was "Christianized, baptized" on December 20 of the same year.
Vladimir Berrío-Lemm, 23 November 2012

The national symbols of Panamá are prescribed by the Single Text of Law No. 34 of 1949 "Adopting the flag, the anthem and the coat of arms as national symbols and regulating their use", which includes the amendments prescribed by Law No. 2 of 2012, and was published on 27 February 2012 in the Panamá official gazette, No. 26,981-A. See Panama Flag Law for details.
Ivan Sache, 3 June 2019

Construction sheet

This article contains very interesting images and sources, like the original construction sheet and description of the Panama flag.
Esteban Rivera, 14 March 2016

The Flag Day

Panama's Flag Day (Día de la Bandera) is on November 4th.
Source: www.pa.
Jim, 23 January 2006

Panama Flag Burning

On flag day in Panama they burn old flags that are damaged beyond use or don't reflect positively on the country. This is the official manner in which they are disposed.
Roger Imerman, 07 November 2015

Vertical Hoisting of the Flag

official flag
image by Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

reverse/flag in use
image by Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Photo at www.epasa.com show vertical hoisting of the flag. The flag is rotated 90 degreed to the right while the stars are kept in their original orientation, which means that it  is a regular flag, only rotated.
Dov Gutterman, 10 October 2005

Maritza post of 18 July 2009, point us that the the flag is wrong based on Spanish wikipedia.
However, there doesn't seem to be an official source quoted, so in this instance. Wikipedia itself cannot be considered an entirely "trustful reference".
We on the other hand, show an officially displayed flag which can be so considered, however, we appear to have interpreted it incorrectly
It appears to me that we have the illustration wrong, both from a point of view of the information on Wiki and the source quoted by ourselves.  The vertically hoisted flag is indeed simply rotated in the conventional manner, but I must remind you that this would place the canton at the dexter not at the sinister as we show it. The photo' is plainly of a flag's reverse.
When hanging a flag vertically the conventional rules are simple - when hung flat against some object etc., the canton must always be towards the dexter, yet when hanging from a horizontal pole at right angles to any building one surely places the upper edge of that flag away from that building and up to the truck. The Panamanian authorities are treated the lamp post to which the horizontal poles are attached as if it were a building, and this being so, the photo' is plainly of a flag's reverse
However, that regulations do vary (albeit sometimes only slightly) from country to country and that they (if they exist at all) are often totally ignored.
Christopher Southworth, 19 July 2009

This article of the Spanish Wikipedia about the flag of Panama does address the question in its current version, last edited in 2009.05.14. But it just states that "En los balcones "(…) ("Vertical:") se coloca con el cantón de la estrella azul al lado izquierdo superior del observador", which means that on balconies (and, we may assume, in all other flag hanging, not hoisting, situations), the blue star goes to the viewer’s upper left - but this statement is not backed up by a specific refference to a legal document, albeit a number of them is listed under “Referencias”.
The image (and its copies and pervious versions) lacks likewise a source to back up the conveyed information. In short, what’s on the article of the Spanish Wikipedia about the flag of Panama is probably true but not backed up enough.
The report of 10 October 2005, reports and briefly describes and comments a photo of actual flag in use with the blue star on the upper fly on row of flags displayed from two parallel beams attached at right angles to a vertical pole, holding the flag by its design hoist and fly.
Is this a wrong practice, according to the relevant law? Maybe, but it is a report of an actual use, seemingly authorized by a municipal body. Even if not legal, it is report worthy, and is not claiming more than a plain sight report.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 July 2009  

There is a "Protocol Manual for the Use of National Symbols" (my translation of the Spanish title) that was put out in 2006 by Comisión Nacional de Desfiles Patrios (National Commission of Patriotic Parades), a division of the Ministry of Education. This document stipulates on vertically hung flags, the blue field should be to the observers right, not left.
Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009  

National Flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Panama: PMS 300 blue, 186 red. The vertical flag is the horizontal version reversed and turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise - blue star top left, blue canton top right.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

Infantry and Artillery Variant

image by Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Based on Protocol Manual for the Use of National Symbols" (my translation of the Spanish title) that was put out in 2006 by Comisión Nacional de Desfiles Patrios (National Commission of Patriotic Parades), a division of the Ministry of Education.
Infantry and Artillery version of the flag, dimensions 180:144.
Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Cavalry variant

image by Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Based on Protocol Manual for the Use of National Symbols" (my translation of the Spanish title) that was put out in 2006 by Comisión Nacional de Desfiles Patrios (National Commission of Patriotic Parades), a division of the Ministry of Education.
Cavalry version version of the flag, dimensions 1:1.
Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Car Flag

image by Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Based on Protocol Manual for the Use of National Symbols" (my translation of the Spanish title) that was put out in 2006 by Comisión Nacional de Desfiles Patrios (National Commission of Patriotic Parades), a division of the Ministry of Education.
Car flag version version version of the flag, dimensions 32:47.
Brian Ellis, 20 July 2009 

Presidential Sash

  image by Fred Drews and Francisco Gregoric, 18 July 2007

Panama Flag as Convenience Flag

Panama - Flag of convenience on several ships. The one which amazed me the most was the ferry from Flensburg (Germany) to Kollund (Denmark), that I was on myself. This ferry, that never gets out of the fjord, is flying the flag of a land it couldn't even reach. (Not only because it probably couldn't carry its own fuel for an Atlantic journey, but it couldn't sail the high seas; it was really just an inland sightseeing ship misused as passenger (and bicycle) ferry. Since this ferry sailed under the Panamanian flag, does that mean I've been to Panama? To what extent were Panamanian laws valid, while we were crossing from German territorial waters directly into Danish?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 28 August 2001

It is also that the Panamanian flag is also a convenience flag used in the shipping industry. However I was surprised to hear of a Danish ferry flying the Panamanian flag as I have no idea if that is actually allowed by the governing laws. The term "convenience" derives from the fact that IF a ship is to do regular crossings of the Panama canal AND it is registered under Panamanian flag, then it is eligible for discount on the toll paid to make the transit on the Panama Canal. Other than that there is no other benefit that I know. Do note that this however also has a dark side attached to it. There have been numerous cases of foreign ships flying (by convenience) the Panamanian flag -and that are NOT Panamanian ships- which are seized by authorities due to trafficking of drugs. Unfortunately the news always tend to say "a ship with Panamanian flag...." omitting the fact that the ship (and most of the times not even its crew or owner) are related to Panama except for the flying of the flag in order to make cheaper transits.
Didimo Grimaldo
, 30 January 2005

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