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República de Guatemala, Republic of Guatemala

Last modified: 2024-07-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: guatemala | america | triband | quetzal | laurel | rifle | sword |
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[Guatemala] (5:8) image by Zoltan Horvath, 9 June 2024
National Flag

[Guatemala - civil flag] (5:8) image by Željko Heimer, 9 June 2024
Merchant Ensign used until 1997

Official Name: Republic of Guatemala (República de Guatemala)
Capital: Guatemala
Flag adopted: 26 December 1997
Coat of Arms adopted: 26 December 1997

See also:

The Flag

The right colors, ratio and national arms (seal), in an "html" version of the Guatemalan flag, can be seen at
Guido Solares, 27 July 1998

As far as I know, Guatemala follows a practice common to several other nations (Germany and Austria are examples) of having two official flags for use at land: the one known as civil flag is the blue-white-blue with no further ornaments, to be used primarily by the citizens, and the one known as state flag, which adds the coat of arms to the civil flag. Usually, this flag is to be used in any official condition to represent the country, though the specifics of it's usage varies from country to country.
Jorge Candeias, 17 October 1998

From the number of messages we've been receiving saying that the blue-white-blue flag is wrong, it looks like in Guatemala the state flag is much more in use than the civil flag, or even that the civil flag is not used at all.
Jorge Candeias, 3 April 1999

I was in Guatemala on last October and when I tried to buy a flag without the Quetzal, people told me that it does not exist, that the flag always has the Coat of Arms, or at least that is the way common people know their flag
Armando Azua, 2 June 2000

An anecdote we were told in primary school regarding the position of the colors in the Guatemalan and Central American flags said that the blue stripes with the white in between symbolized the land between the two seas. 
Alejandro Gutierrez-Pons, 30 August 2000

An article (only in Spanish) about the topic: "Guatemala's color of the flag", can be read in
Jaume Ollé, 10 September 2003

Translated from this article: "According to a directive of Arzz, the color is "sky blue". Although the national flag is made and distributed in different shades of blue, officially the color established by this is that called "sky blue", according to the directive issued in 1997."
Albert S. Kirsch, 12 Febuary 2004

This is Decree No. 104 of 26 September 1997 which confirmed the colours as blue ISSWC-NBS 177 and white ISCC-NBS 263 in the (US) Inter-Society Council and National Bureau of Standards range.  These same colours were also given in a Presidential Decree of 12 September 1968, so I don't quite understand how they could only have been "established" in 1997. The question put by the article is (if I have it translated correctly): "is the flag (dark) blue or sky blue"? and the answer appears to be that it should be "sky blue". I couldn't find anything (colour-wise that is) on the 1968 Decree.  It does, however, quote the ISCC colours I gave above.
Christopher Southworth, 12 February 2004

The answer in the article (of the flag of Guatemala) is that its correct color is sky blue. However, according to the same article, in a poll people answered that the "correct" color was dark blue. Some historians' conclusion is that there is some kind of lack of knowledge of the subject between people.
The color is sky blue. I think that ISCC-NBS 177 color is close (not exactly, but close) to a Pantone 297 or a Pantone 298 (Pantone 298 was recommended for the National Flag of Argentina some years ago for the Academia Nacional de la Historia, so the Guatemalan color is very close to the Argentine one).
Francisco Gregoric, 13 February 2004

Color specifications

The colors of National flag are defined by Law:
The colors are: Blue ISCC-NBS 177, and white ISCC-NBS 263 (These colors defined in 1968 Law, too.)

This Facebook post explain the colors and give Pantone and Hex values:
“The exact blue color our flag, is identified with the code ISCC-NBS 177 (Brilliant Blue, Celestial Blue) which is equivalent to 297 Pantone or Hex # 4997D0.”

It’s really weird, but despite the official color specification, the flag can be seen in various shades of light blue in the images found on the Internet.
Zoltan Horvath, 9 June 2024

In Carlo A. Ferro's book: The Argentine flag, inspirer of the central American banners, the Guatemalan colors are mentioned in the following way:
International naming for blue:  ISCC-NBS 177, or VM 1.6 PB 5.9/9.4
International naming for white: ISCC-NBS 263, or VM 2.5 PB 9.5/0.2
The Pantone value for the shade of blue in the flag of Guatemala would be 297, but Luis Havas mentions 2995.
Gus Tracchia
, 27 November 2000

According to Album 2000 [pay00]:
- National Flag (-CS/-CS (5:8)) - BWB vertical tricolour with coat of arms in the middle. The colour approximation given in Album 2000 is Pantone 299c, i.e. CMYK 90-20-0-0. RGB this would be something like 0-102-255.
- Civil Flag and Ensign (C--/C-- (5:8)) - BWB vertical triband.
Željko Heimer, 19 October 2001

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 Guatemala: PMS 299 blue, 355 green, 032 red, 125 yellow, 109 yellow, 497 brown, 430 grey and black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

Other sources for colors:

The Flag Manual - Beijing 2008 gives Pantone colors: PMS 109 (yellow), PMS 032C (red), PMS109C (dark yellow), PMS 299C (blue), PMS 430 (grey), PMS 355 (green), PMS 497 (brown), and PMS Black.

The Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] gives approximate color in Pantone and CMYK systems:
Blue: Pantone 299c, CMYK 90-20-0-0.

The Album des Pavillons 2023 already specifies the color of the flags in three color systems.
Blue: Pantone 7688c, CMYK 70-25-4-0, RGB 72-157-209

Vexilla Mundi gives colors in Pantone system: PMS 292C (blue), and PMS White.

Wikipedia gives color values as follows:
Maya Blue: Pantone 297, RGB 73-151-208, CMYK 64.9-27.4-0-18.4, Hex #4997D0
White: Pantone Safe, RGB 255-255-255, CMYK 0-0-0-0-0, Hex # FFFFFF

Flag Color Codes gives the following color values:
Red: Hex. # 4997D0, RGB 73-151-208, CMYK 79-7-0-0, Pantone 299, RAL 5012
White: Hex. # FFF FFF, RGB 255-255-255, CMYK 0-0-0-0, Pantone N/A, RAL N/A

While searching for images of Guatemala flags, I found that I couldn't find many images showing the version without the coat of arms. The 1968 law does mention the commercial flag, which is flag without a coat of arms. (Article 3) “la bandera mercante será la misma, pero sin escudo” (the merchant flag shall be the same, but without a shield).

However, this part was omitted from the 1997 law. What's more, there is an Article in this law that expressly provides for the flag with coat of arms. (Article 11) „Ninguna bandera deberá exponerse en todos los casos anteriores, sin el Escudo de Armas respectivo” (No flag shall be displayed in all the above cases without the respective Coat of Arms.).

My guess is that there were actually two flags used before 1997, a national flag (with coat of arms) and a merchant flag (without coat of arms). However, only the flag with coat of arms has been used since 1997. In other words, there is only one flag that is official since then.

Zoltan Horvath, 9 June 2024


In "Flags and South Africa and the World", Proceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Vexillology, there is a paper by Teodoro Amerlinck entitled: "Histoires des insignes du Guatemala" (A history of Guatemalan emblems); (pp. 127-135.
The paper includes three official texts about the national flag and arms of Guatemala [My own translation from the French rendition by T.A. of

 the original Spanish texts.] :

A. Decree of 12 August 1871 (signed by Provisory President Miguel Garcia Granados):

1. The national colours shall be blue and white in three vertical stripes, with the white stripe in the middle.
2. The national ensign shall include in the white stripe the shield of arms of the Republic.
3. The civil ensign shall be the same, but without the shield.
4. The cockade shall have the same colours in the same pattern.

B. Decree of 18 November 1871 (signed by President Miguel Garcia Granados):

The arms of the Republic shall be:
A shield with two rifles and two golden swords tied with laurel branches, on a light blue field. The center shall be masked by a parchment, on which golden letters shall read "Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821". Above, there shall be a Quetzal (Pharomacrus Mocinno) as the symbol of Independence and autonomy of the Nation.

[Comments by T.A. - The Quetzal is the symbol of Independence because it cannot survive in captivity. The arms were designed by the Swiss artist and engraver Jean-Baptiste Frener (1821-1897) who lived in Guatemala from 1854 until his death. The above decrees remained unchanged until 1968.]

C. Regulation of 12 September 1968 (signed by President Dr. Don Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro) National Palace ,Guatemala 12 September 1968

The Constitutional President of the Republic.
Considering: That, according the decrees 12 and 33, dated 13 August [12 August according to Decree reported above] and 18 November 1871, respectively and signed by the President of Guatemala, General Miguel Garcia Granados, the national flag and the shield of the Republic were established.
Considering: That the lack of appropriate regulation on such an important question caused the symbols of the country to be represented in a whimsical and arbitrary manner, regarding both the colour shades and the drawing of the shield of arms of the Republic.
Considering: That by Governmental Agreement of 30 November 1967, a commission was created to realize the studies necessary to the correct enforcement of the laws, and  after worthy work, gave its decision.
According to the power granted by paragraph 4 of article 189 of the Constitution of the Republic, In Council of Ministers, [The President] Orders: The following Regulation on the colours and drawing of the flag and the shield of the nation

On the flag

Article 1. The flag of Guatemala is the supreme emblem of the Nation. It bears in the centre the shield of Arms of the Republic, according to the Decrees 12 and 33 of 17 August [13 August in the same text, see above] and 18 November 1871, respectively.
Article 2. The flag shall not bear any caption or additional lettering, except in specific cases in accordance with military regulations.
Article 3. The colours of the flag are blue and white, placed in three vertical stripes of the same width; two blue stripes at the ends and one white in the middle. The white stripe shall bear in the centre the shield of arms of the Republic, with dimensions in proportion to the Emblem of the Nation; the civil ensign shall be the same, but without
the shield. The blue colour which stands for justice and loyalty recalls the blue of the sky above Guatemala and is designed according to the international nomenclature [expanded in Article 14, see below]  as ISCC-NBS177 or VM 1.6 PB 5.9/9.4. The white colour symbolizes purity and integrity, and is equivalent to ISCC-NBS 263 or VM 2.5 PB 9.5/0.2
Article 4.  The shape of the flag is a rectangle with proportions of 5:8, vertical and horizontal, respectively. The relation 5 to 8 matches the golden rule of aesthetical proportion.

On the shield

Article 5. The shield of arms of the Republic, when drawn independently, shall have a colour of clear sky, according to the Decree on its creation. This colour, which represents ideality, is equivalent to ISCC-NBS 184 or VM 1.5 PB 8.3/8.3
Article 6. The genuine Remington rifles (1871) shall be shown with triangular bayonet, in side view with the "pontet" [the metallic piece that protects the trigger] down, and crossed at right angle in the centre of the shield.
Article 7. The swords, symbols of justice and sovereignty, without scabbard and in gold, are crossed at right angle, in symmetry with the rifles.
Article 8. The laurel branches, symbol of victory, which interlace the arms, are represented in natural with their fruit, with their bases interlaced and without tie. The lower leaves of the branches shall interlace with the hilts of the swords, and the uppermost leaves shall interlace with the bayonets.
Article 9. The parchment, whose caption immortalizes the birth date of the country, unrolls on the centre of the shield, on the rifle crossing. It rolls a revolution and a half to the obverse of the upper part and a revolution and a half to the reverse in the lower part, and stands on the blades of the swords. In the centre of the parchment shall be read in capital letters, on four lines, the following: on the first line LIBERTAD, on the second 15 DE, on the third SETIEMBRE and on the fourth DE 1821.
Article 10. On the top of the parchment stands a quetzal, the supreme symbol of liberty. It is shown dexter with natural colours. The feather tails lay on the corresponding side [unclear in the original French text] and shall surpass [?] slightly the lower leaves of the laurel.
The next articles regulate the use of the flag and shield.
Article 14 states that nomenclature follows the ISCC (International Society of Colour Council) and NBS (National Bureau of Standards, USA) or the International Color Coding System of Munsell Color Company (VM).
Article 17 states that the regulation will be enforced on 15 September of the present year [1968], the Nation's Day.

The author notes that several minor variations in the shield are common, especially in the Quetzal design, the shape of the parchment, the letterings SETIEMBRE or SEPTIEMBRE and the laurels, which often look like coffee trees.

[In my opinion, the above texts do not make any difference between a State flag (with arms) and a national flag (without arms). There is just distinction between the national flag (with arms) and the civil ensign (without them). Additional precisions might be included in the articles of the 1968 regulation not reported by T.A.]
 Ivan Sache, 28 February 2000

The book "Historial de las Insignias de Guatemala Sociadad de Geografia e Historia" (Guatemala 1971) gives the date and text of the decree. The blue-white-blue vertical flag is adopt at 17. Aug.1871. The coat of arms was adopted on 18 Nov. 1871.
Klaus Günther, 10 November 2001

Flag According to Old Sources

image by Jaume Olle, 17 March 2001

At "Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre" (1926), Guatemala Flag probably got the same badge, but around it a shield shape, if I'm not mistaken quite similar to the shape around the Route numbers in the USA.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2000

According to old European sources, Guatemala state flag in 1879 and 1882 (and 1898 at Japanese flag book too) is royal blue, white ,royal blue vertical 3 stripes (1:1:1) with Arms in yellow bordered royal blue shield in white stripe. proportion 1:2 and 5:8.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 21 January 2001

We assume that the images sent by Nozomi Kariyasu are wrong reconstructions.
Jaume Ollé and Ralf Stelter, 21 January 2001

The image of Guatemalan flag drawn by Jaume Olle is based on source from Flags of Maritime Nations by U.S, dept of Navy 1882, similar image from Japanese book Kakkoku Kisho Meikan by Yosei Michimoto 1898 and British book Flags of All Nations 1879.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 March 2001

Flaggenbuch by German  Navy in 1905 shows Guatemalan state flag with Coat of Arms in shield as well.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 5 April 2001