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Jumhuriya Jibuti, Republique de Djibouti

Last modified: 2004-07-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: djibouti | jibuti | peace | sea | star (red) | afars |
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[Djibouti]  2:3~ [FIS Code] by Zeljko Heimer
Flag and coat of arms adopted 1977-06-27.

Description of the flag

The proportions are stated by Smith (1975b) as approximately 21:38, whatever that means. Colours are interpreted as: white - peace, blue - sea and sky, green - earth. The red star stands for unity. This flag has been used since 1972 by African National Liberation Union(?), and then the colours were interpreted differently. Green was for Afar Muslims, and blue for Issas (also Muslims) joined with Somalia. The flag has been officially hoisted on 27 June 1977.
Zeljko Heimer 12 December 1995

I guess that the Constitution of Djibouti was drafted on the French model. The "description" of the flag is as ambiguous as the description of the French flag in the French Constitution. Which brings us no nearer to the vexed question of the official ratio. Is it actually 21:38, or is this as much of a vexillological myth as the Niger's 6:7?

Ivan Sache & Christopher Southworth, 10 April 2004

A note in Album des Pavillons (2000) explains that the flag exists also in ratio 21:38. The construction details are given as (2+2):(3~+3~) which isn't helpful. The star seems to be inscribed in a circle, 1/5 in diameter. Now, the other sources which I quickly consulted all give different ratios:
Smith 1982c 21:38~
Shipmate Flagchart (1998) 1:2
N. Smith (1995) 1:2 **
Znamierowski (1999) 21:38 (but with a considerably bigger star)
and so on.

I have a theory, that would give quite another ratio. Suppose that the rightmost angle of the triangle reaches the midpoint of the flag, so that the non-hoist sides of the triangle fall on the same line as the diagonals of the flag. That would make the whole rectangle twice as long as the equilateral triangle, and that is exactly square root of 3. That is, I "suggest" that the ratio is 1:sqrt(3), so approximately 100:173. This is not quite close to 1:2, nor 2:3, nor 21:38. So, there are 4 variations to this flag to be considered, but as far as I could see they only differ in the "length" of the blue and green stripes. The triangle is unaffected - always equilateral.

The colours are approximated in Album 2000 as
blue Pantone 292c
green Pantone 361c
red Pantone 179c
Zeljko Heimer, 13 June 2001

The ratio of 21:38 is quoted by a variety of unconnected sources and so surely must have a basis in fact somewhere? The only explanation I can come up with is that the flag was originally defined by illustration or sample flag, and that the artist or manufacturer intended the length to be twice that of the triangle. A small drawing or manufacturing error would convert 21:36 into 21:38 would it not?
Christopher Southworth, 1 February 2003

When working on Album des Pavillons (2000), I gave a ratio of 2:3. I relied on a sketch drawn in an official letter dated 22 07 1977 from the French Naval Authority at the time in Djibouti, the sketch having exactly that ratio 2:3. I only mentioned ratio 21:38 in a note because of these so many vexillological books.
Armand du Payrat, 11 February 2003

The triangle in this flag is isosceles, but definitely not equilateral in my source (and in many vexillological books).
Armand du Payrat, 12 February 2003

Decree #97-0163/PR/MI prescribes the details of implementation of the Friday 18 December election and of the next legislative election. In article 5 it is noted: The ballot papers can be printed on coloured paper. [...] The combination of the colours of the national flag is strictly prohibited on pain of a 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 FD fee for the printer. Source: Website of the Presidency of Djibouti.
In 1997, the exchange rate was 1 Euro ~ 200 FD.
Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004

Introduction of the Flag

The national flag of Djibouti was designed by Mr. Mahamoud Harbi, an independentist leader. The national emblem was designed by Mr. Hassan Robleh, an artist. Source:
Ivan Sache, 12 August 2002

Coat of Arms

[Djibouti coat of arms] located by Dov Gutterman at

Djibouti also has a seal, which seems to have the same use as the seal of the French Republic, i.e. sealing the official acts. The seal is of the same design as the coat of arms, and its official meaning is explained in the law prescribing it.

The "Loi n° 91/AN/00/4ème L portant définition du sceau de la République" prescribes the seal of Djibouti. The French text of the law can be read on the website of the Presidency of Djibouti:

Here is my English translation of the law:

Law #91/AN/00/4th L defining the seal of the Republic

The National Assembly has adopted
The President of the Republic promulgates
The law whose content follows:

In view of the 15 September 1992 Constitution;
In view of the 12 May 1999 Decree # 99-0059/PRE appointing the members of the Government and stating their remits;

Article 1: The seal of the Republic of Djibouti shall be represented by a laurel crown surrounding a shield and a lance surmounted by a five-pointed star. The shield and the lance shall be flanked by two hands each holding a traditional Djibouti dagger.

Article 2: The laurel crown shall represent peace granted to the Djibouti people after the victory obtained during the attainment of independence on 27 June 1977. The shield, the lance and the star shall symbolize defence of the national sovereignty and of the territorial integrity. The two traditional daggers held by two hands shall symbolize the culture and traditions of the people as the foundations of the National Solidarity.

Article 3: The seal shall be strictly reserved for the use by the President of the Republic, the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council. The President of the Republic can commission for its use the Minister of Foreign Affairs and accredited Ambassadors.

Article 4: The present law shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Djibouti as soon as promulgated and shall be enforced as a State law.

Made in Djibouti, on 10 July 2000.
By the President of the Republic, head of the Government
Ismail Omar Guelleh

Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004

Aircraft Emblem

[Djibouti Aircraft Marking] by Zeljko Heimer

Roundel of concentric disks of yellow, light blue, green and white (diameter of those respectively 39, 36, 25, 12, based on my measuring of the figure in the Album) with red five-pointed star inscribed in the white disk. A marginal note to the figure says that the national flag is painted on the fin.
Zeljko Heimer, 13 June 2001

Cochrane & Elliott (1998) noted the the national flag is used as rudder/tail boom insignia ( ). It is not a rudder
insignia but fin flash as in the photo at Force Aerienne du Djibouti was formed in 1977 and not in 1983.
Another note is my own belief that the yellow ring is not part of the roundel. Such rings are used occasionally for emphasis and not consider parts of the roundel.
Dov Gutterman, 15 June 2004

Sultanate of Tadjoura

[Sultanate of Tadjoura] by Ivan Sache

In his book "Les drapeaux de l'Islam", Pierre Lux-Wurm (2001) describes the flag of the Sultanate of Tadjoura (Tagorri).

The Sultanate of Tadjoura was located on the African coast along the Red Sea. As early as the XIIth century, the chronicles mentioned four small Sultanates which controlled the caravan traffic with Ethiopia. Tadjoura was one of them. The Sultan of Tadjoura was called "Dardar". His power was represented by two "sacred drums", which were buried for one year after the Sultan's death. The Dardar of Tadjoura accepted a British Protectorate in 1840 and the Musha Island, in the Gulf of Tadjoura, was given to the United Kingdom. In 1862, an envoy of the Dardar signed in Paris a treaty allowing the French vessels to moor in the port of Tadjoura. Tadjoura became an important port of call for the vessels sailing to Madagascar and Indochina, which were not allowed to moor in Aden since the British colonization in 1839. The Sultanate was incorporated into the Republic of Djibouti
The flag was a 1:2 plain red flag.
Ivan Sache
, 26 April 2002

Dorling-Kindersley (1997) explains the red colour of this flag as being associated with the Red Sea.  However, red flags were used by Muslim countries throughout North Africa and Arabia, not only (and absolutely independent to) Oman and Zanzibar.
Santiago Dotor, 7 February 2003

French Somaliland

In 1862, France purchased the moorage of Obock from Danakil chiefs. In the same period, a protectorate was established over the sultanates of Tajura and Gobad (? - I can hardly read my own notes), and Djibouti was ceded by the United Kingdom. In 1896, all these territories were merged to form the colony of the French Somalis' Coast (Côte française des Somalis). Here Somalis has to be understood as the name of a people and not of a geographical area like Somalia, which is Somalie in French, or Somaliland. In 1946, the reform of the French overseas possessions made of the colony an overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer) called Territoire français des Afars et des Issas, which gained an autonomy status in 1957 and independence in 1977 as the Republic of Djibouti. However, France still maintains a lot of troops there.

[colonial Governor's flag] by Pierre Gay

Concerning the flag, the only possible flag except the French national flag could have been the colonial Governor's flag, that is a square blue field with the French national flag in canton and a swallow tail, used only during the colony period. Since the protectorate vanished in 1896, any predating flag, if any, probably vanished too.
Ivan Sache, 5 February 2003

Party of Democratic Revival

On 4 September 1992, a draft of the Constitution was approved by the citizens of Djibouti. A law appended to the draft but never published, established multipartism, authorizing only four political parties. The MPR (Mouvement pour la Paix et la Réconciliation / Movement for Peace and Reconciliation) became a legal political party and changed its name to PRD (Parti du Renouveau Démocratique / Party of Democratic Revival). The founding congress of PRD was hold on 12 September 1992 in the house of the late Mohamed Djama Elabé, who was elected President of the PRD. On 27 September 1992, PRD was the first opposition party to register officially.

According to Article 1 of the PRD status, "[...] The emblem and the flag of the party are made of a white dove bearing an olive branch." The status does not prescribe the colour of the field on which the emblem has to be put.  Source: Party website,
Ivan Sache, 12 August 2002