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Istria County (Croatia)

Istarska zupanija, Regione Istriana

Last modified: 2005-11-05 by dov gutterman
Keywords: istria | zupanija | croatia | labin | vodnjan | partisans | dalmatia | goat | horn | crown | olive | oak | trieste |
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image by Mello Luchtenberg, 13 August 2002

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Istria County

The County of Istria is on the west of Croatia, on the penisula on the Adriatic coast of the same name. In Istria there is the largest concentration of Italians living in Croatia, so the Italian is one of the official languages there. The traditional Istrian coat of arms, that Istria was granted as separate land in Habsburg monarchy - the golden goat with red horns and hoofs, is adopted as the modern arms, too. In the crown there are the branches of olive and oak. The vertical version (called "stijeg" - banner - in the Odluka) bears the name of the county in both languages.
Željko Heimer

I found an article about Coat of Arms and flag of Istria in newspapers today. It gives also some insight to some other county Coat of Arms and flags of Croatia. My translation.

Hrvatski obzor, no. 184, Zagreb, 17-OCT-1998 (p. 20): Istria - republic, kingdom or earldom *)

Several days ago the Ministry of Administration again denyed approval to the coat of arms and the flag of the County of Istria, whose designs were proposed already in 1994. Analysing those symbols, the Ministry rejected in these proposals some elements unheraldic, and disputed the crown above the county coat of arms. Istrian HDZ **) already protested that "proposed design of the coat of arms equalize the rank of what that coat of arms represents with the rank of the coat of arms of the Republic of
Croatia. With this IDS ***) wants to put Istria in the level of a republic, kingdom or earldom".
On the other hand, IDS members claim that some other counties also do not have their oats of arms approved (Sibenik- Knin, Sisak-Moslavina, Krapina-Zagorje), exactly due to the disputed crowns, and they deem HDZ qualifications as "sick constructions".
In any case, there is still no coat of arms, and as it has started, it should not be expected soon.
[signed] (R.P)

*) county would be better translation of "grofovija" from "grof" - a count, but doesn't fit nicely due to other meaning of the English word county. Hope that earldom is acceptable.
**) Croatian Democratic Union, Tudjman's party, in oposition in the county assembly.
***) Istrain Democratic Assembly, the ruling party in county assembly

Istrian Coat of Arms and flag are adopted in the county assembly on 03-OCT-1994. Source: "Odluka o grbu, zastavi i imenu Zupanije Istarske" (Deceision on the coat of arms, the flag and the name of the County of Istria), "Sluzbene novine Zupanije Istarske" (Official gazette of the County of Istria), nr. 005/95, 07-AUG-1995. (see <> ). Coat of Arms is "azure, on a triple hill vert a goat or horned and hoofed gules" crowned with a crown or with olive and oak leaves proper. The flag is light blue with the Coat of Arms in the middle, and "banner" is the same with the name of the county in Croatian and Italian on it (no colour or position of text specified, also not specified the size of Coat of Arms in the flag).
So, we are not talking about a proposal, but adopted design. However, to be valid, the design must be approved by the Ministry, which obviously rejected it.
I might add, that I would have other reason to reject the flag, based on the law on the symbols of local units of government and self-government - the law requires the county flag to be of two colours, with Coat of Arms in the middle or towards the hoist, and this flag is monocoloured!
Željko Heimer , 21 October 1998

The curent county flag of the Istrian county (light boue with coat of arms) is not easy to find . It is not official flag anyway, since it is not (yet?) approved by central government of Croatia.
Only other flag of Istria that I am aware of is the tricolor of Austria-Hungarian time of yellow over red over blue, with or withou the coat of arms. But, I do not think that anyone use such flag nowdays.
Željko Heimer, 4 Febuary 2000

Courrier International #499 (29 May 2000) gives a short chronology of Istria:

XIth century: under Venetian domination
1797: given to Austria by the treaty of Campoformio
1805: given to Napoleonian French Empire by the treaty of Presburg and incorporated into the Illyrian Provinces
1815: given back to Austria by the Vienna Congress, later in the XIXth century revendicated as "provinzia irredenta" by Italy
1919: divided between Yugoslavia and Italy
1920: annexed by Italy
1945: given to Yugoslavia, except Trieste
1975: definitive border between Yugoslavia and Italy officialized by the treaty of Osimo.
Finally divided between Slovenia and Croatia (main part) after the breakdown of Yugoslavia.
Ivan Sache, 30 May 2000

The division of Istria between Slovenia and Croatia happened long before the breakdown of Yugoslavia, namely in 1954, when the borders of the two Peoples' Republics were made. Maybe a better cronology after WWII would be :

1945: liberated by Allies and imidiately divided into Zone A (Trieste and neaghbourhood) western Allies control, and Zone B uder Yugoslav military control.
1954: the agrement was made and Zone A was given to Italy, while Zone B and with some minor border corrections, was given tzo Yugoslavia. Northern part of the Zone B became Slovenian, and most of Istria Croatian.
1975: the final agreement between Italy and Yugoslavia by Osimo treaty regarding the borders in the region.
1991: breakdown of Yugoslavia, smaller northern part remains in Slovenia and most of Istria in Croatia, following the previous borders Since, Slovenia and Croatia have not reached agreement on some minor points of the border in istria, the most important being the border,
on sea in Piran bay and the land border imidiatly on the coast.
1993: Istrian county was established in Croatia.
Željko Heimer, 31 May 2000

Contacting the County asembly I was informed briefly that the coat of arms and the flag are not yet approved by the Ministry, and are therefore still unofficial (and rarely used, if ever officially). Adopted originally 03. 10. 1993. and changed in details several times afterwards, last change 01. 04. 1999.
Željko Heimer, 28 December 2000

Daily newspapers from Zagreb, Vecernji list, of 19 September 2001 issued a short article on the state of the symbols of Istran County. As you may remember, the County of Istria still does not have adopted and approved CoA and flag. There is no hint in the article why it was issued right now in particular. Anyway, here is my translation:
"Goat in the Coat of Arms shall not have Udders
PULA - It is now six years that the County of Istria is trying to reslove the question of its coat of arms and its flag featuring a goat. In an interview with teh chief of the County division for local administration and areal self-government Mr. Marino Folo, we learned that the design is being coordinated with the Opinion-giving commision in the process of approval of the coat of arms and flag of a unit of local self-govrnment in the Ministry of Administration and Justice. In the commision are Maja Bejdic and the chif of the Croatian State Archives prof. Zdravko Tisljer. Marino folo says that the new design is very much like the previous, only with thinner border, a shaddow on the goat's tail is smaller, there are no udders and some more minor differences." (sb, Sasa Miljevic)
Attached to the text is a picture, probably a leaf from the proposal. The diferences from previous proposales, at least those that we were able to see are more then minor - there are no hills on which the goat is standing, the goat is made much more bold, and most important - there is no crown above the shield.
The text does not mention the flag, but cetainly the design of the Coat of Arms is going to influence the flag. The flag is blue with the coat of arms in the middle, but also it should be added some features in some other colour - if I understood rightly, the currently considered proposal is to add white "Israeli" stripes (as was done  with two other maritime counties earlier). Which design of the flag field shall be adopted is far from clear to me.
Željko Heimer, 23 September 2001

Finally, Istrian county has to get their official symbols. According to Croatian daily newspaper Novi list on December 19, 2001, county's magistrate approved yesterday the proposal and sent it to county's assembly approval. This final proposal is made according Regulation about the Procedure of Giving an Approval of Coat-of-Arms and Flag of Local Bodies issued by the Ministry of Administration in 1998. This regulation requires bicolour flag for county's flag and it was for a long time a dispute between Istria and Ministry. Local authorities adopted 1994 a monocoloured light blue flag that was never approved by Ministry. The coat-of-arms on this final proposal originally was pictured in K. Lind's book Stadte-Wappen von Österreich-Ungarn, issued in Vienna 1885.
Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak, 19 December 2001

There is a PDF version of the news article which Janko Ehrlich-Zdvorak refered to on <>. There isn't much news in the article - Janko reported all relevant, but the original artwork images might be interesting to those who are into such things. These are also in colour, while I am not sure that Vjesnik on paper is so. The official gazette of the county still has no word about the new symbols (at least I haven't found it). The site of the official gazette is on <> with last issue of 2 July 2002. Somewhat odd - it's been more then half a year since and eight issues of the gazette... Maybe they wait for the approval by the Ministry?
Željko Heimer, 12 August 2002

I heard on the radio news today that Istria County flag was finally for the first time publicly hoisted. The design of the flag was adopted last year after a longish discussion, and today was held the hoisting ceremony. I have found no reference to that in the newspapers yet.
Željko Heimer, 31 March 2003

I managed to find document on the first official hoisting of the Istrian County flag. It is in 01.04.2003 issue of the Istrian local newspapers in Italian, available on line at <>. Since recently the new Coat-of-Arms is available on the County iofficial pages at <> (Though I believe that it might be actually an image that is from FOTW!?). The decision on the new simbols is issued in official gazette available at <>.
Željko Heimer, 5 April 2003

The Istria County issued several decisions adding prescriptions to the previous decision on the flag and the Coat-of-Arms, however, none of them does not chage the design of the symbols: Odluka o mjerilima i postupku za davanje odobrenja u svrhu izrade, umnožavanja i komercijalne distribucije grba i zastave Istarske županije, 11.12.2002, SNIŽ, br. 001/03, 17.02.2003. Izmejna i dopuna Statutarne odluke o grbu i zastavi Istarske županije te nacinu i zaštiti njihove uporabe, 18.10.2004, SNIŽ, br 012/04, 25.10.2004. They detail the manners and conditions to grant the commercial use of the symbols and define in further details the penal decisions.
Željko Heimer, 30 October 2005

Coat of Arms

image by Mello Luchtenberg, 13 August 2002

Previous Flags

image by Željko Heimer

image by Željko Heimer

image by Željko Heimer

Historical Flag

image by Dirk Schonberger, 4 March 2001

"Nations Without States" includes an entry on Istria and mentions a flag described as "the Istrian national flag, the traditional flag of the region, and the flag of the national movement". It is a horizontal tricolor of red, yellow and blue.
Ned Smith, 3 March 2001

The flag of RYB is actuall the "landesfarben" of Istrian Markgraviate within Habsburg Empire, though some sources (e.g. Mayers lexicon) give the order of colours as YRB. These colours originate, as usual for landesfarben, from the coat of arms (golden goat with red horns and hoof on blue shield). For what I know these landesfarben has not been much used in Austia- Hungary, and certainly not afterwards. Even if today the Istrian regionalst feeling is politically infloencial, and certainly the coat of arms is not forgotten (it is even included in Croatian CoA) the tricolour flag seems not to be used at all, unless it is used in Italy by some groups I am not avare of. Also, since the neighbiouring city Rijeka/Fiume used similar flag - BRY, the confusion in the order of stripes might have been made.
Željko Heimer, 3 March 2001

You show the istria historical flag with 3 horizontal stripes: red/yellow/blue. while from a book I have the colours as yellow/red/blue.
The book is: "Die see-flaggen, national und provinzial fahnen" by Friedrich Heyer von Rosenfeld (Wien 1883).
Also the book:  "O-H in wort und bild", it   is written that the landesfarben is gelb/rot/blau.
Giampaolo Lonzar, 5 May 2004

The landesfarben of the "lesser" Austrian crownlands are notoriously reinterpreted in every book issues, and I think that it would be hard to find two contemporary books that would have matching all the crownlands. It seems that each of the editors was "reading" them from the coats of arms as good as he could and hardly ever checked against sources.
You give two examples, and as you could have noticed above that I have mentioned that Mayers Konversations-Lexicon, Leipzig u. Wien 1897 also gives YRB (=yellow-red-blue).
The "Austria oder Oesterreichischer Universal-Kalender für das Schaltjahr 1844" [ska44] gives it as BYR.
The Stroehl's "Oesterreichisch-Ungarische Wappenrolle" 1895 [stl95] showes it as RYB (on table 20, under figure 28).
The Grenser's 1881 "Die National- und Landesfarben von 150 Staaten der Erde" [gns81] showes the boclour only BY.
The Rosenfeld's see-Flaggen 1883 [ros83] has it YRB. The Ruhl's 1930 [rus30] has YRB.
So, go figure... Anway, I am sure that the Istrian parliament that was seated in Porec (Parenzio) might have proclaimed at one time or an other the "true" order of colours, unfortunately I have no data on that. In any case, the traditional austrian landesfarben are heraldical colours, and are derived from the coat of arms depending on the heraldical principles one is using - some heraldists think that the colour of the charge (yellwo in this case) should go over the main field colour (blue) while other authotrities claim the oposite. The secondary charge colour is set under the main charge colour it seems by all authorities, however, some reverse them to maintain the heraldical principle of not mathcing metals and colour to each other. Counting all this together, one may apparently set the three involved colours any way he wants, and the books seem to do just so. I believe that modern references agree more or less that the YRB is the "ture" version, but I am not sure why exactly (maybe they do have access to the parliamentary decision on that).
Željko Heimer, 5 May 2004

Partisans Flags

Flag of the Italians in Yugoslavia
image by Jorge Candeias

According to M. Corbic, the communist partisans in Venetia-Julia, Dalmatia and Istria used italian flag with red star. The Italian people is represented in the Congress of the nationalities celebrated in Belgrad in 1945 with the same flag.
The Italian volunteers brigades that work in the Yugoeslavia of Tito used the same flag but with star pointed to the hoist and in the pattern of some yugoeslavian old stars . This flag was little used in Italy because Stalin didn't want that the red star will be used by other peoples.
Jaume Olle, 20 September 1998

Free Territory of Trieste - Zone B

I have never seen (or can't remember) reference to such flag used in FTT Zone B, that is one that was under the administraton of Yugoslav Army (i.e. Tito's partisans). Actually, I never heard of any flag ascribed to FTT Zone B. However, most probably the well known Yugoslav flag with stars, as well as the national flags with stars (Slovenian, Italian and Croatia) would have been used. And, of course, the red flag of Communist party .
The two zones of FTT were latter (1953, IIRC) incorporated in Italy and Yugoslavia respectivly, with very minor border changes. FTT Zones issued both stamps and banknotes. I do not remember them quite vividly to claim anything, but there was not FTT flag or Coat of Arms on them. ISTR one FTT Zone B stamp with flag, but that one was pure red.
Željko Heimer , 24 September 1998

In the Belgian vexillological magazine Vexillinfo n°58 (March 1985), Aldo Ziggioto from Italy explains that he was in Trieste in 1945. The First of May, the whole of the territory was occupied by the Yugoslavian troops. In June, these had to quit Trieste which was then occupied by the Western Allies. Since that time, the territory was divided in two parts: the A zone (Trieste and surroundings: Allied Military Government, then Free Territory of Trieste) and B zone (part of Istria, governed by the Yugoslavs).

On the paper, the two zones formed together a territory with an autonomous administration. In reality, Yugoslavia immediately considered the B zone as a "free" zone and annexed it to the Popular Republic of Yugoslavia. Ziggioto says that in the B zone, the Italian tricolour was strictly forbidden, except when, but rarely, it bore a red star fimbriated gold in the middle (see above). In the other hand, the Slavs, who were relatively numerous in Trieste and in its surroundings, lived in a "democratic state" and could freely use the Yugoslav flag during demonstrations. In fact nobody knows that there was a specific flag for the Free territory of Trieste, for that there was only one "Trieste" flag made: the unique exemplar of the flag was flying above the castle of Duino.
Pascal Vagnat , 13 November 1999

As far as I'm aware, it is true that there was no specific flag for FTT. Zone B was not "imidiately annexed", at least not in theory- it formed separate zone under military administration, and as such issued it's own stamps and currency until 1954 when FTT as a whole was disbanded and included formaly in Italy and Yugoslavia.
Regarding the Italian flag with "Yugoslav star", I belive that it was used in Zone B quite often, together with other flags of peoples living there - Croats and Slovenians, when appropriate, and when it was not only the Yugoslav flag hosited. Though, I do not have any documents by hand to support it.
Željko Heimer , 13 November 1999

image by Alex Belfi, 29 September 2000

This was the version of the official coat of arms of the FTT, that was used in Zone B (under Yugoslav administration); I found this on many documents (identity cards, school-reports, etc.) that belong to my mother, as she lived in Zone B during her childhood.
Alex Belfi, 29 September 2000

Part of FTT Zone B is in Slovenia. To put it briefly, the FTT was formed after the end of WWII and divided into Zone A under Alied control and Zone B under the control of Yugoslav Army. The situation remained so until mid-1950's (1956?) when it was agreed that the Zone A is to be added to Italy and Zone B to Yugoslavia. Some minor border corrections in favor of Zone B were made at the time. The Zone B was divided between Yugoslav republics of slovenia and Croatia according to the major population, Slovenia gettin a small litoral around Koper, and Croatia getting the most of Istria. The city of Trieste remianed in Italy (even if Yugoslav politics of the time was strongly against it). As far as I am aware, there were no special flags for the Zone B, or FTT as a whole used in Zone B. The flags used were the Yugoslav flag with red star and the flags of three nations living there Italians, Croats and Slovenians also with red stars (so, equaling to the flags of two Republics and the flag of Italian nationality in Yugoslavia). This Coat of Arms that was shown here as the variation used in Zone B, with the red star above the shield, I have never encountered, at least it was not shown on stamps and banknotes used there at the time. Possibly it was used in some other conenction, though
Željko Heimer, 7 October 2000

see also: Free Territory of Trieste (1945-1954) (Italy)

Flag of the Italian Exiles

fimage rom <>, located by Guido Abate, 31 December 2002

I've found the flag of the Italian exiles that left Istria after WW2 at <> . Also, at <> you may see that flag and a lot of coats of arms of Istria.
Guido Abate, 31 December 2002

I suppose that the site is maintained by the organization of the Italians that left Istria after the WWII and now live in Italy. These (and other Italians that left Croatian coast then) are known as Esuli (guess stems from Itailan word for 'exile'). Such organizations are mainly focused in preserving the cultural heritage, but sometimes iridentistic and fascist ideologies surface.
Željko Heimer, 31 December 2002