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República de Angola

Last modified: 2006-07-01 by bruce berry
Keywords: angola | cog wheel | machete | star |
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  2:3~ image by Martin Grieve, 16 Oct 2005
adopted 11 Nov 1975 See also:

Description of the flag

Horizontally divided red over black.
In the middle a golden star, part of a cog wheel and a machete. Symbol is clearly inspired by hammer and sickle, and represents industrial and agricultural workers.
Yellow is to represent mineral wealth, and red and black are said to stand for 'Freedom or Death'. Officially hoisted at independence on 11 November 1975.
Željko Heimer, 28 November 1995

The People's Republic of Angola (PRA) adopted a flag closely based on that of the ruling MPLA : red over black with a yellow design in the centre featuring a cogwheel, machete and star. The PRA was proclaimed by the MPLA in March 1975; it was this action which caused the final split between the MPLA, FNLA and UNITA who had previously agreed to bury their differences in the run-up to independence. Initially, it was recognized only by radical African nations and the Communist bloc. Cuba dispatched thousands of troops to Angola in 1975 to ensure victory for the MPLA, and South Africa intervened (with tacit US backing) in support of UNITA and the FNLA. Once South Africa became involved in the conflict, other African nations recognized the PRA and by 1976 it was also acknowledged by the Organization of African Unity. In contrast, the United States did not recognize the PRA until 1991 - by which time the ruling MPLA had officially abandoned Marxism, and the word "People's" from the title of the country. In view of political developments, it is quite likely that a new flag will be adopted by a future Angolan government.
Stuart A. Notholt, 1 October 1996

The country name was altered to Republic of Angola in the Coat of Arms by Angola Constitution Article 163 in Part VI issued on 24 Aug  1992.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 Jun 1999

The National Flag shall consist of two colors in horizontal bands. The upper band shall be bright red and the lower one black and they shall represent:
Bright red - The blood shed by Angolans during colonial oppression, the national liberation struggle and the defense of the country.
Black - The African continent.
In the center there shall be a composition formed by a segment of a cogwheel, symbolizing the workers and industrial production, a machete, symbolizing the peasants, agricultural production and the armed struggle, and a star, symbolizing international solidarity and progress.
The cog wheel, the machete and the star shall be yellow, symbolizing the country's wealth.
Source: Constitution of Angola
M.V. Blanes,
12 Sep 2000


image by Martin Grieve, 16 Oct 2005

No official construction sheet for Angola's National flag exists as far as I know, and therefore the images I depict should be approached very cautiously.
My sources here were Graham Bartram's illustration on the World Flag Database web-site, and Christopher Southworth's figures, which differ only very slightly
from the ones I "calculate" here - probably because of rounding up to whole numbers.
Martin Grieve, 16 Oct 2005

I am a little bit confused about the position of the cog wheel. Manuel Gabino's image on FOTW, Fischer Weltalmanach (2005) and "Wappen und Flaggen
aller Nationen
" (1980) [smi81g] are all showing one cog "lying" on the border of red and black. Your image and the image in my Chinese book "National Flags, Emblems and Anthems across the World" (2003) have this cog crossing the border.
Is there no specification or was there a change ?
J. Patrick Fischer, 16 Oct 2005

Actually, I believe you got one thing wrong: the position of the device on the flag.

As you drew it, with the "whole" cogwheel centered on the flag, the final effect is of a device shifted to the fly because the hoist side of the cogwheel is missing and there's nothing in its place. This unbalances the flag, and therefore I believe that it shouldn't be so: the device should be centered as it is effectively drawn, not counting the missing part of the wheel.
Jorge Candeias, 16 Oct 2005

I  agree with Jorge's comment that the emblem should be centrally positioned.

Also, I wonder if we could even talk about such a construction sheet at all, since quite different constructions could produce equally acceptable image of the flag - compare the Album 2000 [pay00] drawing - quite different one in details.

According to Album 2000 the cog wheel should "start" at 12 o'clock, just above the star. Also one point of the star should almost directly point toward the tip of the machete - quite unlike those in your drawing. But these are all just descriptions of various drawings - we still don't know from where to start - we need a
primary source.

By the way, I am not sure why there is a "notch" in the cog laying directly under the machete (namely the cog number 7 if you count the visible cogs from the top clockwise). It seems to me that there is no reason why it would be "cut" vertically?
Željko Heimer, 16 Oct 2005

As  it is now drawn, with the "whole" cogwheel centered on the flag, the final effect is of a device shifted to the fly because the hoist side of the cogwheel is missing and there's nothing in its place. This unbalances the flag, and therefore I believe that it shouldn't be so: the device should be
centered as it is effectively drawn, not counting the missing part of the wheel.

Perhaps but perhaps not? As we know flags do not always follow what is logical or most attractive, and in the absence of any official statistics (and all my efforts have been unable to bring any to light) one answer is as likely to be right as the other - is the star, the part cogwheel or indeed the whole emblem centred?
Christopher Southworth, 17 Oct 2005

I did not realise what a "storm" I would start up when I posted the images of Angola's National flag and construction sheet, but the response from so many eminent
Vexillologists interested me and I would like to thank all of you for polite, and constructive criticism/support on this matter.

Let me start here by saying that the entire ensemble is *never* positioned centrally on the flag, and the reason I say this, is because no fewer than 5 flag books and 1 flag chart that I own show the entire device shifted (albeit very slightly in many cases) towards the fly on the National flag of Angola.

I would be the first to agree that the device, if centrally positioned would be more attractive, - but this would make the star out of place.
Angola's flag presents us with an optical illusion and it is impossible therefore to say with any conviction that the device is dead-center - even although at first glance it may seem so.
Martin Grieve, 17 Oct 2005

Bruce Berry has three Angolan Flags in his collection. Two are manufactured by the National Flag company in South Africa and the other by William Smith & Gourock, a Zimbabwean flag manufacturer. Bruce has shown me all three of them in order to produce a drawing.

The Zimbabwe-made version is produced in the overall proportions of 1:2, which is hardly surprising as Zimbabwe's National Flag is 1:2. The two versions of the South African-made flags are in the ratio of 2:3. and all 3 versions differ slightly in the geometric arrangement of the central device which consists of a machete,
half-cogwheel and 5-pointed star. All of these flags show this entire device to be positioned approximately centrally upon the flag.

The shades of yellow are all consistent - a deep shade which I approximate to RGB 255-204-0, whilst the red is a deep red. Album des Pavillons gives this shade of red to be PMS 186c which is identical to the shade of red on the Union Flag of the United Kingdom. Bruce compared these two flags next to one another and informs me that the Angolan red is slightly brighter. The half-cogwheel's tooth-edges are all illustrated as "beveled" as opposed to being radially produced from
the centre of the wheel - the first remark on the flag from Bruce when we met. The main difference between the 2 South African produced flags is the
termination of the half-cogwheel. The storm size one has the top-most cut-off line at about 5 past twelve o'clock whilst the larger version has this at 12 o'clock and therefore vertical from the 5-pointed star. It would now appear that placing the half-cogwheel in the centre would be erroneous, although one could argue that providing the flag consists of the basic elements and "looks right" it would not be wrong.
Martin Grieve, 30 Oct 2005

All considered, the shade of red on the flag of Angola, should be, drawn as RGB:255-255-0.  Album des Pavillons [pay00] gives this shade of red to be PMS 186c which is identical to the shade of red on the Union Flag of the UK.  This is, in my opinion, a mistake. No matter how one matches it to any given
system, the shade of red in the Union Jack is explicitly dark (FIAV'S R+),while the flag of Angola is bright red («vermelho vivo» in the Constitution). Any coherent pair of these two flags should always show the Union Jack in a darker shade, regardless of the exact values used.
António MARTINS-Tuválkin,
01 Nov 2005

Coat of Arms

sent by M.V. Blanes, 12 Sep 2000

The insignia of the Republic of Angola shall be formed by a segment of a cogwheel and sheaves of maize, coffee and cotton, representing respectively the workers and industrial production, the peasants and agricultural production.
At the foot of the design, an open book shall represent education and culture, and the rising sun shall represent the new country. In the center shall be a machete and a hoe symbolizing work and the start of the armed struggle. At the top shall be a star symbolizing international solidarity and progress.
In the lower part of the emblem shall be a golden band with the inscription 'Republic of Angola'.
Source: Constitution of Angola.
M.V. Blanes,
12 Sep 2000

Just a note on the terminology: as the emblem in question is not following the rules of heraldry, it ought not to be called coat of arms. Note, that in the legal text below, the words used are insignia, design and emblem. There is no mention of arms or coat of arms.
Elias Granqvist,
13 Sep 2000

Knowing the current status of Angola, this description can be seen as a piece of very sad humour. It is true, anyway, that Angola was once a world leader in coffee production. Now the production is nearly extinct, not because of plant pathogens but because of human ones. Only armed struggle (but Angolans vs. Angolans) has remained. There is of course international solidarity to protect diamond fields and progress towards better mining techniques.
Ivan Sache,
13 Sep 2000

Presidential flag?

I searched for information after seeing a quick view on TV:
A red flag with a shield (certainly with a star and laurels, probably in gold) in front of the presidential palace in Luanda (Angola). Could this perhaps be the presidential flag???
Michel Lupant, 2
4 Mar 2003