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Belize, Belice

Last modified: 2014-03-28 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: belize | british honduras | hammer | oar | axe | saw | mulatto | ship | ensign | independence | olive | america | central america | bliss | baron bliss |
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[Flag of Belize] (2:3)
image by Zoltan Horvath, 28 March 2014

Official Name: Belize
Previous name: British Honduras
Capital: Belmopan
Location: Central America
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II)
Flag adopted: 21 September 1981
Coat of Arms adopted: 21 September 1981
ISO Code: BZ

See also

The Flag

The white disk in the center has 50 olive leaves along its inner periphery. This represents the year 1950, when British Honduras (Belize's former name) began its quest for independence from the UK. When Belize became independent in 1981, the two red stripes were added to the previous flag.

In the center of the white disk there is a coat of arms divided in three sections. The left field holds an oar and a sledgehammer, the right one contains a saw and an ax, and the bottom one has a sailing ship. If one looks at the ship closely, one sees a red flag flying which might be a British Red Ensign.

Above the coat of arms, there is a tree, and below the coat of arms, one can see Belize's motto "Sub umbra floreo" -- I flourish in the shadow (referring to the dependence from the UK). There is a mulatto man holding an ax to the left of the coat of arms. On the right side, a black man holds an oar.

The coat of arms seems to have been slightly modified compared to the arms in the 'pre-independence' flag (without stripes) shown in W. Smith's book. Note the change of darkness of the green, and the substitution of the orange with yellow for the right section of the coat of arms. Also, the saw went from a blade saw to a bow saw. On the old flag, the men stand on the motto, whereas on the new one, they are on the ground, and the motto is smaller.
Željko Heimer, 17 Febuary 1996

According to 'Pavillons nationaux et marques distinctives' [pay00] - National Flag (CSW/CSW 2:3) - The details of the coat of arms, as it is tradition of British (and not only British) heraldry are allowed to vary to the artistic representation as long as they follow the blazon, and therefore differences shown in each picture of this flag are understandable, I guess. This is also one of those former British colonies that did not adopt the British custom of different ensigns for different use on sea (and land) and all functions are covered with a flag of single design. This may be influence of the big USA relatively near (and influencial), but on the other hand, Central American states in the vicinity all know about different ensigns for various purposes.
Do we know anything about details of this flag? - The stripes seem to be 1/10 of the flag hoist and the disk is like 6/10. Is that defined somewhere?
The [smi80] also who the triangular flag of the Minister President - would there be a matching flag in use today?
Željko Heimer, 4 March 2001

National Flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Belize: PMS 032 red, 285 blue, 293 blue, 355 green, 139 brown, 102 yellow, 468 brown and black. The vertical version is simply the flag turned through 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

History of the Flag

The blue flag with a white disk (without the stripes) was adopted on February 2, 1950, as British Honduras started its journey toward independence. The two red stripes were added on September 21, 1981, when Belize officially became independent from the UK. Surprisingly, the motto (Sub umbra floreo) was not changed in 1981, even after independence from the UK.

The coat of arms shown on the flag was given to British Honduras on January 28, 1907. It has remained mainly unchanged ever since, except for some minor changes which were discussed above.
Željko Heimer, 17 Febuary 1996

From the Belize Government Website:
"The National Flag

The red, white and blue flag of Belize is a symbol of the unity of our nation. Prior to Independence the People's United Party (PUP) proposed a blue flag with the Coat of Arms in a white circle. Because of the close association of the flag with the PUP, public opinion was divided as to its suitability to act as a unifying symbol. The United Democratic Party (UDP) did not propose a flag, but called for a flag that could rally all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation. As a consequence, the bi-partisan National Symbols Committee invited citizens to submit designs for a National Flag.
The design selected by the Committee is a royal blue flag with one horizontal red stripe at the top, one at the bottom, and a white circle with the Coat of Arms in the centre."
Jarig Bakker, 16 November 1999

Belize Civil Ensign (up to 2010)?

image by Zoltan Horvath, 28 March 2014

There is a ship in dock in Bristol at the moment registered in Belize. She is flying a UK Red Ensign as a courtesy flag but its own ensign is simply a blue field with red stripes top and bottom - no white disc with Belize coat of arms.
I haven't read of this elsewhere as a simplified flag or ensign for Belize and I wonder whether it has previously been reported. I can understand the desire to simplify the complex design (for cost reasons if nothing else), but this didn't even have the white disc (though if it had, that would have made it rather Laotian).
Andre Coutanche, 27 June 2001

Nothing of the sort in Album 2000 [pay00] , nor anywhere else as far as I know. However, Smith reports in his 1980 book the tendency of simplification. Of course, at that time there were no red stripes on the flag present, and the simplification observed was blue flag with white disk. If I am not much mistaken, many vexillologist would expect something of the sort - though, as much as you are surprised, my guess is that they would be also - to simplify it some much as to remove even the disk might seem overmuch. I wouldn't know if the same was reported before, but it may well happen that this is more rule then the exception. We must wait and see some more examples, however, before concluding anything - after all it may be that the ship's flagman was simply mistaken ...
Željko Heimer, 28 June 2001

A colleague of mine looked at your web site and noticed you had posted an enquiry about the Belize registered ship MV Lucie in Bristol dock. Lucie was chartered by the Bristol Old Vic to take part in a theatrical performance "Up the Feeder, Down the Mouth and Back Again" on which I happened to be working.  After looking at the web site I was intrigued too and decided to ask the Captain about the flag. Apparently it is the Belize maritime flag. It prompted the Captain to point out a chart on the bridge which displayed national maritime flags and sure enough the simplified blue and red ensign was there. I hope this is of use to you and it was great reading about our ship on your website.
Jo Cuthbert, 11 July 2001

Belize does not use a "simplified" version (i.e., a version without the arms) of its flag as a civil ensign. Rather, the Belize national flag bearing the full arms serves that purpose.
The controlling law is the Merchant Ships (Registration) Act, 2010, No. 22 of 2010. Part III, section 28 thereof says:

28. (1) The national colour of a Belizean ship shall be the national flag of Belize and such ship shall wear no other flag.

The website for the Ship Registry of Belize shows the national flag, also.
James T. Liston, 28 March 2014

I haven't seen any conflict here, because previous reports about Belize Ensign were posted before 2010.
I think, this is a quite new regulation about Merchant Ships, but I would know more about an earlier law or regulation of Belizean ensign (if any).
This recent report does not mean non-existence of this ensign in the past, and even some observers reported this ensign when they saw it with their own eyes in Bristol.
Zoltan Horvath, 28 March 2014

I merely suspect it was more of one-off sighting rather than a formally established flag. I can find no legislation or written source supporting such a flag and have never seen one used.
The Registration of Merchant Ships Act, Chapter 236, Rev. ed. 2003, "Showing the Subsidiary Laws as at October 31, 2003" provided identically to the 2010 act, as far as the national flag is concerned:

Part VI: Name and Flag of Ship
52(1) The national color of a Belizean ship shall be the national flag of Belize and such ship shall wear no other flag.

That's stated as of October 2003... The original Belizean Ship Registration Act dates from 1989, but I can't put my hands on a copy of it at this moment.
James T. Liston, 28 March 2014

You may right, but I'm not sure in this issue, others may capture such a flag or get some documentation.
Zoltan Horvath, 28 March 2014

Baron Bliss Day

March 9th is a flag day, Baron Bliss Day in Belize (many thanks to Alex Smith):
Baron Bliss, a wealthy Englishman, inherited the title 4th Baron of Bliss from the Kingdom of Portugal. He arrived in Belize in 1926. When told he had few weeks to live he changed his will and set up a trust fund for his wife, which, after her death, would go to the country of Belize. His estate was believed to be valued at perhaps 1,000,000 pounds sterling. If you want more details, you can go to <>.
Edward Mooney, 10 March 1998