While watching the Olympic Parade of Nations, it had happened more than once when I thought “phew, didn’t I saw that flag just a few minutes ago?”. Though I later realised it’s a different country, but it had often left me confused, and I bet the same happened to you too. So to avoid further confusions in the future, here’s the complete list of the similar or look-alike flags from around the world – and trust me, there are a lot more flags that have close resemblance than I thought there would be. So here it goes!
Chad, Romania, Andorra, and Moldova
With vertical tricolour of blue, yellow, and red, flags of Chad and Romania are almost impossible to differentiate, though they are located in two different continents. Andorra and Moldova’s flag is also the same, except they have their coats of arms in the middle.
Belgium and Germany
Their flags share the same colours, but Belgium’s stripes are vertical while Germany’s are horizontal. This can be confusing for many, and in 2018, Canada accidentally welcomed the Belgian royal family with a German flag.
Bahrain and Qatar
Middle Eastern country Qatar’s flag is very similar to the flag of neighbouring Bahrain, which has fewer points, a 3:5 proportion, and a red colour instead of maroon. Also, Qatar’s flag is the only national flag having a width more than twice its height.
Thailand and Costa Rica
Tropical countries Thailand and Costa Rica are both popular tourist destinations. Their flags are quite similar, but with reversed colours and an addition of Costa Rican coat of arms.
Cuba and Puerto Rico
They are similar in design, but with inverted colours. Also, the Puerto Rican flag is a bit squared in comparison with the Cuban flag, with the star being bigger.
Uruguay and Greece
Both flags have blue and white stripes, nine to be exact. The primary difference is that Greece has 5 blue and 4 white, while Uruguay has 5 white and 4 blue. The canton also has differing symbols, Greece has a cross and Uruguay has a sun.
Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras
All four flags comprise of three horizontal stripes of blue and white, but differ from each other by the sun face, stars, and coat of arms in the middle.
Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Yemen
Flags of all four countries consist of Pan-Arab tricolour of red, white, and black bands. The distinguishable difference is that the Syrian flag features two five-pointed green stars; Egyptian flag bears Egypt’s national emblem the Eagle of Saladin; Iraqi flag bears the text “God is great” in Arabic; while Yemeni flag has none of it.
Jordan, Palestine, Sahrawi, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait
These flags contain all the four Pan-Arab colours with first four ones having a chevron or triangle on them. Jordanian flag in addition has a seven-pointed star, referring to the unity of Arab people. Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s flag has a red star and crescent. Flag of UAE has a vertical red band, while Kuwaiti flag has a black trapezium.
Kenya and South Sudan
They share the Pan-African symbolism with horizontal black, white, red, and green bands. Flag of Kenya has a Maasai shield and two crossed spears on centre, while flag of South Sudan has a yellow star inside a blue triangle.
Indonesia, Monaco, Singapore, and Poland
Indonesia and Monaco have identical flags with a difference on their dimension ratio, same as Singapore except it has a crescent and stars on it. The flag of Poland has the reverse colours.
Latvia, Austria, and Lebanon
Austria and Latvia are red with a horizontal white stripe in the middle. Lebanon is similar but has green cedar tree in the centre.
Peru and Canada
Both the flags consist of red and white, with a red maple leaf centred on the Canadian flag.
Italy and Mexico
The flags of Italy and Mexico are almost the same except Mexico has it’s coats of arms in the centre, depicting a Mexican golden eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake.
Ivory Coast and Ireland
Ireland is close to the Italian flag, except it ends with orange instead of red. It has a length to width ratio of 2:1, which means it is longer than most other flags. Flag of Ivory Coast is just the opposite, with orange closest to the flagpole. It has a length to width ratio of 2:3 so it is inline with most other national flags.
Haiti and Liechtenstein
During the 1936 Olympics, these two countries realised that they were using the same flag. Haiti’s civilian flag used for sporting events was the same as Liechtenstein’s with horizontal blue and red bands. After the similarity came to light, Liechtenstein added a gold crown to their flag. Haiti’s civilian flag is still the same, without the coat of arms used on their national flag.
Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea
These four flags share the same dimensions and basic tricolor design of vertical stripes. Cameroon and Senegal’s flag are distinguished by a star on the central stripe.
Ghana and Bolivia
Ghana and Bolivia have the same colour combinations, but different embellishments.
Netherlands, Luxembourg, Paraguay, and Croatia
Flags of Luxembourg and Netherlands are not easy to differentiate as they look the same, with subtle difference on shades of red and blue on their stripes. Paraguay’s flag is similar, in addition of an emblem. This flag is unusual because it differs on its obverse and reverse sides, the obverse of the flag shows the national coat of arms, and the reverse shows the seal of the treasury. Croatia’s flag has a shield, in the red and white checks of the country. Above it is a crown made of shields of its various regions.
Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Serbia
Modelled on the Dutch tricolour, the Russian flag inspired flag designs of many countries of eastern and southern Europe. Two flags that most closely resemble the Russian flag are flags of Slovakia and Slovenia, which differ mainly in being longer than the Russian flag and incorporating their respective country’s coat of arms into the flag design. Flags that are variations on the Russian model include Serbian flag, which use a reverse horizontal stripe pattern along with their coat of arms.
India and Niger
Both the flags have horizontal tricolour of orange, white, and green, with a 24-spoke wheel called Ashoka Chakra on the centre of Indian flag. Niger’s flag have a disc instead of wheel, represeting sun or independence.
Hungary, Tajikistan, and Iran
They all have the same tricolours. A crown surmounted by an arc of seven stars is in the centre on Tajik flag, while the national emblem “Allah” is in the centre on Iranian flag.
Norway, Iceland, Aland Islands, Faroe Islands, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark
All Nordic countries except Greenland have adopted similar flag patterns with the Scandinavian cross on them.
England, Guernsey, and Georgia
All three flags have Saint George’s cross on them. Flag of Guernsey consists an additional gold Norman cross within it, while Georgian flag has four extra crosses in the corners.
Vietnam, Morocco, Somalia, and Micronesia
Vietnam, Morocco, and Somalia have a big star on a one-colour background. Multiply the stars by four, and you get the Micronesian flag.
Samoa, Taiwan, and China
Samoa has a very similar flag to Taiwan, consisting a red field with a blue canton bearing the Southern Cross constellation. Taiwan’s canton has a disc with twelve triangles surrounding it, symbolizing the sun and rays of light emanating from it. China’s canton has five golden stars and hence known as Five-starred Red Flag.
Turkey and Tunisia
Tunisian flag is based on the Turkish flag, a reminder of once being part of the Ottoman Empire. Star and crescent represent the Islamic world, which is also present on flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Libya, Pakistan, Mauritania, and others.
Cyprus, Kosovo, Antarctica, and United Nations
Three flags use maps of their territory: Cyprus, Kosovo, and Antarctica, which is not a country but a continent. UN flag on the other hand represents the whole world.
Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela
A flag of unequal yellow, blue, and red horizontal stripes was adopted by the new country of Gran Colombia in 1822. Although the country dissolved in 1830, the succeeding states of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela incorporated that flag’s tricoulor design into their respective flags.
Bhutan, Wales, and Malta
Bhutan, Wales, and Malta are the only countries the world whose flags have dragons on them. Though it’s obvious on the first two, a very close look at the cross on the Maltese flag will reveal an unexpected dragon, being fought by Saint George.
United Kingdom and Basque Country
United Kingdom and Basque Country (an autonomous community) and have crosses on top of each other.
Australia and New Zealand
Both flags are based on the British Blue Ensign (blue field with a Union Jack in the canton, or top inner corner) and feature a stylized version of the Southern Cross constellation. However, they differ in several ways: the design of the constellation (five white seven-pointed stars for Australia, four red-and-white five-pointed stars for New Zealand); the addition of a sixth, larger, “commonwealth” star on the Australian flag; and shade differences in the blues and reds.
Ascension, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Falkland Islands, St. Helena, Pitcairn Islands, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Montserrat
Flags of British Overseas Territories (BOTs) follow the Blue Ensign design, with the Union Flag in the canton and the territory’s coat of arms in the fly. Cook Islands is an exception on this list, which is not a BOT but a self-governing island country.
Bermuda, Fiji, and Niue
Bermuda is the only country among British Overseas Territories which uses a Red Ensign instead of Blue. Flags of Fiji and Niue uses the Union Jack, an reminiscence of their colonial past.
Switzerland, Red Cross, and Tonga
The flag of Switzerland has a white cross in the centre of a square red field, which is known as the Swiss cross. The symbol the Red Cross represents an inverted Swiss flag as a tribute to Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the organisation. Combine the colours and put the cross on canton, and you get the flag of Tonga.
United States of America, Malaysia, and Liberia
All the three flags have a blue canton and stripes. The design evolved from the British East India Company or Grand Union flag, though they all have their own meanings.
Nigeria and Norfolk Island
Nigeria in western Africa and Norfolk Island is a territory of Australia, with probably nothing in common except their flags. The Pine tree on Norfolk Island flag is what differentiates it from the Nigerian flag.
Tanzania and Saint Kitts and Nevis
Both the flags of eastern African country Tanzania and Caribbean country Saint Kitts and Nevis consist of a yellow-edged black diagonal bands, but the later contains two five-pointed white stars on it. Colour of the lower triangle is also different.
There are two flags that are similar to the flag of my homeland Bangladesh, the flags of Japan and Palau. Other than the colours and their meanings, the key difference is that the disc on Palau’s flag represents the moon, while it means the sun on other two.
Laos and Greenland
Both the flags of Laos and Greenland have a disc on them as well.
If there are any flags that I’ve accidentally missed out, then please comment below and I’ll include it on the listing. Thanks!
Last updated on September 18, 2021 @ 4:29 BST.