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Croatia - Counties and Municipalities

Last modified: 2006-02-11 by dov gutterman
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Republic of Croatia is divided in 21 counties called zupanija (sg., read zhupaniya). They are administrative units, and slowly aquiring coats of arms and flags. But historical parts of Croatia do have coats of arms (those in the crown of the coat of Croatia). Now they are not officially used by any unit. Some are, however, often seen, especially the one of Istria (goat) and Dalmatia (three heads), used by political parties as shields on a white flag. There are many towns' coats and flags that are used. Since 1 January 1997, there are 20 counties, plus City of Zagreb with special status within Zagreb County.
Željko Heimer


The Croatian "Law on local self-government and administration" on the web server of the Croatian Parliament. Article 9 says:

Article 9: The municipality, town and county can, with approval of the central state administration body that is competent for local self-governement matters, have its coat-of-arms and its flag.

The coat-of-arms must be described in accordance with the rules of heraldry and displayed in a special document of which one copy is kept in the National Archives.

The representative body of the local self-government unit can approve the usage of the coat-of-arms by natural and juridic persons, if it assesses that this is in the interest of the municipality, town and county.

The central state administration body competent for local self-government matters can withhold the approval as per the paragraph 1 of this Article only if the contents of the coat-of-arms do not correspond to the historical or real state of affairs or if differs insufficiently from the coat-of-arms of another local self-government unit, while a flag can be refused only for the reasons of public consideration with regard to its contents or the colour symbol.

Law of the 29 December 1992.
Source: Parliament of Croatia.
Pascal Vagnat, 9 September 1996

The general pattern of the Croatan county flags:
They all follow this simple rule - a simple geometric pattern with the coat of arms in it . Three of the counties chose their simple geometric pattern as pure field of one colour, but this is quite regular, IMHO. Two counties have vertical bicolours, one of them off- centered. Four have horizontal bicolours, and two have five-striped horizontal bicolours. One has quartered fields, and one have two tins stripes on top (quite unusual, even original!). Three have two stripes in the field, one horizontal, one diagonal and one Israeli style.
Suprisingly, there are no inscriptions, except in one case, in which inscription is part of the coa. Also in one case, there is writing, but not in regular flag, but only for special occasions.
Sevetal counties changed flags, soon after their adoption by the County, when they were not confirmed by the body of the Ministry of Administration. After minor changes, new improved flags were adopted. I am aware of two such cases (regarding counties, more regarding cities and communities) but probably there were more.
Željko Heimer, 28 June 1998

Browsing the official gazzete for flag related material, I found that recently there were issued regulations for local flags and Coat of Arms in Croatia. The most important thing in it, for us, is the part regulating the design of flags - two- coloured (not bi-colours!) for counties, and one-colored for cities and communities, in both cases with CoA in the middle or in hoist. This only confirms the rule that I have found (obviously, not only me collecting them).
Here is the exctract from the regulations, published in official gazette NN, 94/1998, 10-JUL-1998. [my comments in brackets]

Ministarstvo uprave Pravilnik o postupku davanja odobrenja grba i zastave jedinici lokalne samouprave

Ministry of Administration - Regulation on the procedure for confirmation of the coat of arms and the flag of a unit of local self-government

Art. 2.
The coat of arms [CoA] of the unit of local self-government [county, city and community] should be made according to the rules of heraldry. A coat of arms consists of a shield and the contents within it. The CoA of a unit of local self-government can not contain the state coat of arms or a part of it. A unit of local self-government, as a rule, takes its historical coat of arms with the shield and its contents.

Art. 3.
In making of the flag heraldic colours are used: white, blue, yellow, red and green. [what about black?!] A county uses for the making of the flag, as a rule, two colours, and a city and a community use, as a rule, one colour. On the flag of a county there is the CoA of the county, on the flag of a city there is the CoA of the city, and on the flag of a community there is the CoA of the community. The CoA is in the middle of the flag or in hoist position. The ratio of a flag should be 1:2.

Art. 4.
A unit of local self-government lays request for confirmation of the CoA and the flag to the Ministry of Administration.
&#x017Deljko Heimer ,15 August 1998

The regulations on adoption of the flags for counties, cities and municipalities prescribe that they have to be of a field of one colour (or two-coloured in case of the counties) in anyof the heraldical colours: red, blue, green, yellow and white. (that is, the five colours are named). Notably, the black is not listed.
One can speculate for the reason, one of the obvious might be the association of the black with mourning, as Antonio noted. However, there might be other reasons - black flags have "association" of anarchy, or in these regions they are connected with extreme right movements from the World War II. (cf. Chetnik flag, but also Ustashas used black often, if not so on flags). There might be other theories, also, but the fact remains - black is banned from the local Croatian flags.
Željko Heimer, 4 June 2000


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