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Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sathalanalat Pasathipatai Pasason Lao

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: laos | moon | mekong river |
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[Flag of Laos] image by Željko Heimer
Proportions: 2:3
Usage Code: [FIS Code]

Local Name: ສາທາລະນະລັດປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ

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External Links

Presentation of Laos

The current flag was adopted in 1975 and was the flag of the Pathet Lao. It replaced the flag used since 1952. The flag of Laos is one of the few communist-style flags not featuring a star.

The colors of the flag represent:

Red: the blood shed in the fight for freedom;
Blue: wealth;
White: represents the full moon over the Mekong River as well as unity under the communist government.

The blue in Laotian flag meaning the Mekong River. The white circle is the symbol of reunification of two Laotian regions divided by the river (Robert Lacontre in Le Figaro 6.1.78)
Jaume Ollé, 11 September 1999

Smith says that the white disk represents the promise of a bright new future for the country.

Znamierowski says that white represents the unity of the multiethnic [Laotian] society under Communist rule.

DK Pocket Book says:

  • (caption on the left of the flag): "The white disc on a blue stripe represents the full moon over Mekong river."
  • (caption on the right of the flag): "The white disc symbolizes unity under Communism."
  • (in text): "In the centre is a white disc symbolizing the unity of the people under the leadership of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and the country's bright future.[...] The white disc on a blue background is also said to represent a full moon against the Mekong river."
Ivan Sache, 25 March 2003

I recently read the book, "The Politics of Ritual and Remembrance: Laos Since 1975" (which is quite interesting despite the apparently boring title.) In it there is a long footnote about the current flag of Laos and the previous one. About the previous one (1952-1975,) it was originally the flag of the Kingdom of Luang Phabang (one of the three Kingdoms that Laos broke into about 200 years ago, the other 2 being Champasak in the south which gave up all sovereignty in 1946 and Vientiane which was destroyed by the Thais in 1828.) The three-headed elephant is the mount of the Hindu god Indra who is very popular in Laos. The story that it represents the three kingdoms becoming one was made up much later as is a bit ironic considering that it originally represented only one of those kingdoms!

In the 40's a group called "Free Laos" or "Lao Issara" sprang up to fight the French, and they declared their own state after the occupying Japanese surrendered in 1945. The state lasted about 6 months (and was never recognized) before the French regained control. The Lao Issara wanted a national flag that would have no royal symbol on it to be separate from the royal flag (as Thailand had done.) The design they choose was the current Lao flag, though I don't know if they ever officially made it the flag of Laos. Whatever the case, the communist Pathet Lao liked to pretend that they were the successors to the Lao Issara.
Robert Wilson, 26 December 2002

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) 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 Laos: PMS 032 red, 293 blue. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012

Construction Sheet

[Laos Construction Sheet] image by Željko Heimer

The construction sheet given reveals that the middle stripe is indeed double the width of each of the red stripes, and that the disk diameter is 2/5 of hoist.
Željko Heimer, 4 April 2002

National Symbols in the Lao Constitution

The Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic was promulgated on 14 August 1991 during the Sixth Session of the People's Supreme Assembly Second Legislature (13-15 August 1991).

Chapter IX

Language, Script, National Emblem, National Flag, National Anthem and Capital City

Article 75. The Lao language and Lao script are the language and script officially used.

Article 76. The National Emblem of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is a circle depicting in the bottom part one- half of a cog wheel and red ribbon with the inscription "Lao People's Democratic Republic", and decorated with crescent-shaped ears of rice on the two sides and red ribbon stretched between the middle of the rice ears with the inscription "Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity and Prosperity". A picture of that Luang Pagoda is located between the tips of the rice ears. A road, a paddy field a forest, and a hydroelectric dam are depicted in the middle of the circle.

Article 77. The National Flag of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is dark blue with red edges and a white moon. The width of the flag is two-thirds of its length. The area of the red edges on each side is one-half of the dark blue area. The area of the white moon is equal to four-fifths of the dark blue area.

Article 78. The national anthem of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is "Xat Lao" song.

Article 79. The Capital city of the Lao People's Democratic Republic is Vientiane.

Source: Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coats of arms. P. Vagnat & Jos Poels [vap00].

The full text of the Constitution is available on the website of the Lao embassy in the United States.
Ivan Sache, 27 November 2005