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República de Panama, Republic of Panama

Last modified: 2006-02-18 by dov gutterman
Keywords: panama | america | star (blue) | star (red) | star: 2 | central america | colon |
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image by Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

image by Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

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

The current national flag was confirmed by Law 48 of 1925, and ratified by law 28 of 28 March 1941. The blue and red is for the Conservative Party and Liberal Party; the white is for peace; the blue star is the purity and honesty of the life of the country; the red star is for authority and law in the country.
Jaume Ollé, 4 September 1996

From <>, 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 pacifical 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
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: ' 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 designbed by the first President, Manuel Amador Guerrero, 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

A friend of mine told me that in the recent events of retrocession of the Canal, Panama National Flags sere usually seen in ration 1 : 2 can anyone confirm ?
Armand du Payrat, 28 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

According to [pay00] - National flag (2:3) and (1:2). Measurement of stars from both Album and Flaggenbuch gives for diameter of the stars 30% of the flag hoist. Album, as well as Smith, has the FIAV grid totally filled for this flag, thus meaning it is used on land as civil, state and war flag and at sea as civil, state and naval ensign. Smith gives the flag proportion as approximate 2:3. Album shows the flag in proportion 2:3, but caption says 2:3 and 1:2.
Approximate colour specifications in Album are:
Red: Pantone 186c - C0:M90:Y8:K5
Blue: Pantone 300c - C100:M45:Y0:K0
Anything on other flags such as a Prsidential flag, for instance?
Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

I would pssibly have chosen some darker shade of blue to draw this. In any case, [smi82] show the blue rather dark, and some other sources also choose darker (if maybe not so dark one). Possibly there is a realtion with US shades? Then maybe not.
Not that I am aware of any other flags. Nither Flaggenbcuh, not Smith nor National Geographics mention any other flags. n fact Crampton in [cra90f] clearly says in the "Other flags" field "None."
Željko Heimer, 23 june 2002

Does this mean that Album gives construction details? As far as I can see no two flag books picture this flag with the same ratio for the stars. Most sources appear to agree that the shade of blue should be the same as that used in the flag of Costa Rica.
There also appears to be some variety on the history of this flag and the proposal before that, but do we know what the first version of this flag looked like?
Siegel [sig12] describes both stars as red, but the images does show the current flag.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 July 2002

The website <> (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 centimeteres 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 Panamian 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 wander if the use of that long flag might be happening only as an ensign - Panamian ensign is among the most popular flags of conviniance, and therefore there certainly are many ships carrying ensigns that not only are produced abroad Panama, but probably haven't seen Panamian coasts ever. If 1:2 version is not frequent unofficial variant - we might want to drop it alltogether.
Željko Heimer, 24 September 2002

According to [pay00] - National Flag (CSW/CSW 2:3 and 1:2) - Size of stars is estimated on FOTW to 3/10 of hoist.
Željko Heimer, 7 October 2002

The Flag Day

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

Vertical Hoisting of the Flag

image by Ivan Sache, 10 October 2005

Photo at <> 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

Coat of Arms

image from <>

Here are an old Coat of Arms and the shield.
Fred Drews, 21 November 1999

From <>: The National coat-of-arms was designed by Mr. Nicanor Villalaz with the help of his brother Sebastián Villalaz. (see here)
Jarig Bakker and Santiago Dotor , 13 December 1999

This image of unclear origin is outdated. Pedersen [ped71], as well as [smi75] and [udk97],  shows NINE STARS above the shield, corresponding to the nine provinces in which the country is divided. There are now also three indigenous districts, including the "Comarca de San Blas", a.k.a. "Kuna Yala" inhabited by the Cunas Indians .
The description of the arms is in [smi75]:
"'For the Benefit of the World' [Pro Mundi Beneficio] proclaims the motto of Panama, referring to the canal which divides the country physically but provides it with a substantial portion of the national income. The arms incorporate other symbols as well. The civil wars of the past, represented by saber and rifle, have given way to the tools of peaceful labour, promising the prosperity and progress symbolized by the cornucopia and winged wheel. The sun and moon both appear in the central panel of the shield to indicate that independence was achieved at the hour of twilight. The green background of the coat of arms (official, but rarely shown) is a reminder of the nation's tropical vegetation."
[udk97] has again a problem with colours: in the image of the arms, the red and blue stars are inversed in regard of the image above and [smi75] image!
Ivan Sache , 26 December 1999

The coat of arms from <> is incorrect. The coat of arms From <> is correct. According to <> (defunct), the coat of arms "was adopted by Law 64 of 4 June of 1904 signed by the President of Assembly Dr Genaro Ortega, and sanctioned by the President of the Republic, Dr Manuel Amador Guerrero..."
"From a careful investigation comes off that the first sketch of the coat of arms, devised by his author, Don Nicanor Villalaz, was drawn by Don Ricardo Miró that in addition to being a poet, was a fan of drawing. The second sketch, from which the cannon and the gun carriage, the sickle and the machete, the handful of ears and the cluster of banana trees were suppressed, and replaced the train for a winged wheel, was painted by professor Max Lemm, German artist resident in Panama....
"The coat of arms approved in 1904, and that since then it was used officially, has the following description:
"It rests on a green field, symbol of the vegetation; it is of pointed form and it is intervened as far as the division. The center shows the Isthmus with its seas and sky, in which the moon begins to rise above the waves and the sun begins to hide behind the mountain, marking thereby the solemn hour of the declaration of our independence. The head is divided in two quarters: in the one of the right hand, in the silver field, a sword and a gun are hung meant as abandonment for always to the civil wars, causes of our ruin; in the one of the left-hand side, and on field of gules, a crossed shovel and a grub hoe are shown shining, to symbolize the work "
"The end of the coat of arms also is divided in two quarters: the one of the right-hand side, in blue field, shows a cornucopia, emblem of the wealth; and the one of the left-hand side, in field of silver, the winged wheel, symbol of the progress. Behind the shield and covering it with his opened wings, is the eagle, emblem of the sovereignty, the head turned towards the left, and takes in the tip a silver tape, which hangs from right to left. On the tape the following motto is printed "Pro Mundi Beneficio "
"On the eagle, in arc form, seven gold stars go in representation of the provinces in which the Republic is divided. Like decorative accessories, to each side of the coat of arms two gathered national flags go on the other hand below"
For thirty-seven years the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Panama was not changed until the Constitution of 1941 was promulgated. The National Assembly dictated in March of this year Law 28 on the Coat of Arms, in which the following reforms were introduced: the saber and the gun are meant as attitude of alert in defense of our sovereignty, in the place of "abandonment to mean good bye to the civil wars ".   311 projects appeared to change the motto and the Jury named to make the selection decided for: "Solo Dios sobre Nosotros" (Only God Above Us). Nevertheless, the National Assembly when approving the Law 28 already referred to, rejected it and preferred the one of "Justice, Honor and Freedom ".  Five years later, in 1946, Panama returned to the old symbol with the well-known motto of "Pro Mundi Beneficio ".
Alvaro Aguilar, 31 August 2001

Aircraft Marking

image by Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

fin flash
image by Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

According to [pay00] - Aicraft marking - The marking could be described as a circular version of the national flag with two horizontal rectangular wings.
Aircraft fin flash - Square field, horizontally divided red-white-blue. Two stars, blue and red, respectively, are placed horizontally in the white stripe.
Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook (1998) says that the Panamanian Armed Forces were dissolved in 1991. A National Police of 11,000 was created the same year. There is an American Force of 7,000 in the former Canal Zone.
Ivan Sache, 23 june 2002

According to [pay00] - Aircraft Marking - National flag in shape of a roundel with "wings". Aircraft Fin Flash - Square, red, white, blue horizontal tricolour, with two stars in white stripe, blue forward and red to the end.
Željko Heimer, 7 October 2002

Panamanian miltary aviation started in 1931 and stopped in 1939 due to shortage in planes. Military Aircraft Insignia of the World [cos98] report that during this era a white disc bordered in red and charged with black letters RdeP, and rudder insignia made of white disc bordered in blue with black inscription GN 31 (for Guardia Nacional 1931), were in use.
[cos98] also report another try to establish military aviation in 1945 (<> give 1946-1948) and report national flag on the rudder as the sole marking.
The Servicio Ae'reo Nacional was formed in October 1964 as Destacamento de Aviacion No.1 (First Aviation Detachment) and renamed Fuerza Ae'rea Panamena (FAP) on 17 January 1969. In 1989 the FAP was dissolved following operation "Just Cause" (US invasion) and a new Servicio Ae'reo Nacional was formed. The marking since as above. Note that this is not fin flash but rudder stripes. Photo at <>.
Dov Gutterman, 22 June 2004

I would like to point out that indeed the Panamanian armed forces were disolved in 2000 following the american invasion of Panama. It was replaced by a civil police. There is no air force either.
Didimo Grimaldo, 30 January 2005

Panama Yacht Club

image by Ivan Sache, 26 june 2002

Panama Yacht Club is located in Fort Amador Marina, on Flamingo Island. The burgee of the Club is simple and elegant. It is made of four triangles: two white ones along the hoist, a red one filling the fork made by the two white triangles, and a blue one in the distal half of the flag. The upper white triangle is charged with a white star, the lower white triangle is charged with a blue star. This design could be interpreted as a "triangulation" of the Panamanian national flag.
The source is the yacht club website: <>.
Ivan Sache, 26 june 2002

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 mis-used as passenger (and bicycle) ferry. Since this ferry sailed under the Panamanian flag, does that mean I've been to Panama? To what extend 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 elegible 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