Belgium and Germany have slightly similar flags that have confused even Canadian officials. For your aid, I’ve pointed out the evident differences between the two flags in this article.
Whether it’s Chad and Romania or New Zealand and Australia, similar flags create constant confusion for onlookers who aren’t in the know. Although we mainly notice them at global sporting events and summits, the importance of a national flag goes further than that.
Some flags depict the national colors, while others showcase the cultural and ideological symbolism embedded in its history. With every aspect of each flag carefully arranged and specified, some countries still carry strikingly similar flags.
A pair that receives particular attention among these are the Belgium and Germany flags. However, even though it confuses onlookers worldwide, the similarity between these flags doesn’t go beyond its color scheme.
If you’re confused about the uncanny resemblance between the two flags, check out my Belgium vs Germany’s flag debate to get further insight.
Headlines and Controversies
Unless you’re interested in the different flags of various countries, you probably don’t know that disagreements and downright hilarious incidents about similar flags are commonplace.
To make things interesting before getting to the Belgium flag vs Germany flag debate, here are some other similar flags that have made the headlines.
New Zealand and Australia
Apart from the Belgium and Germany flag, the flags of the neighboring countries New Zealand and Australia, are also eerily familiar. To the extent that New Zealand has even accused Australia of copying their flag. Also, they later considered replacing their flag to maintain a unique identity.
Both flags are based on British Blue Maritime Ensign, with the Union Flag defacing the upper-left corner (like many other British and former British territories) but have a different number and color of stars. Australia has five white stars, arrayed according to the “Southern Cross” constellation.
These stars represent the five states of Australia and a sixth larger star represents the Commonwealth. New Zealand’s flag, has four white-rimmed red stars instead, also arrayed like the “Southern Cross” constellation. Even so, it’s not enough for some onlookers to quickly tell them apart.
Chad and Romania
In 2004, the Romanian prime minister stated that the tricolor flag with yellow, blue, and orange stripes was theirs by right, appealing to the UN for intervention. Despite the severe conflict, both Chad and Romania continue to use the same tricolor flag.
Ireland and The Ivory Coast
The Republic of Ireland and the Ivory Coast also boast the same flag colors, just like Belgium vs Germany flag. However, in their case, the colors are inverted from right to left.
The Ireland flag has the green-colored stripe on the left; the Ivory Coast has it on the right. This difference became most evident when Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast picked up the Ireland flag when hers was missing at the IAAF World Indoor Championship.
Poland and Indonesia
Like the Belgium and Germany flags, the flags for Poland and Indonesia also bear a color resemblance but differ in their arrangement. However, during the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, the flag on Indonesia was printed upside down with the red banner below the white one.
This made it look like Poland’s flag, making for a hilarious mishap during the sporting event.
See Related: What is the Size of Germany?
Belgium Vs Germany Flag
Now that you know that the flag of Belgium vs Germany flag aren’t the only ones with striking similarities, it’s time to delve deeper. First of all, let’s discuss the aspects which make these flags appear the same to most people.
The most evident resemblance is the color scheme. Both flags use panels of red, yellow, and black.
These colored panels are arranged differently in each case which helps us distinguish one from the other. Still, the similar color scheme was enough to confuse Canadian officials back in 2018.
During the preparations to welcome the King and Queen of Belgium to Canada, Rideau Hall was decorated with Belgian and Canadian flags. However, things went wrong when a journalist spotted Germany’s flag on a tree planted by Belgium’s Queen Fabiola back in 1977.
That’s when the Canadians realized their crass mistake. Nevertheless, according to the Rideau Hall spokesperson, the error was immediately rectified.
Besides the color rearrangement, the flags of Belgium and Germany both look more or less the same. But as every flag is rich with history and symbolism with every aspect, what is the reason for the similarity? Read the next section of my Belgium vs Germany flag debate to find out.
Why do These Countries Use Similar Flags?
Looking at the immense confusion and identity crisis created by similar flags makes us wonder why these countries use identical flags in the first place.
In the case of Belgium and Germany, the underlying reason seems to be the initial unification of both states. Centuries ago, parts of Belgium, Germany, and Holland used to be ruled by one throne. Thus, they shared the same flag.
As years passed, these states split due to cultural differences, language barriers, political and social turmoils and of course, war. At this point, Belgium changed its flag, but only slightly.
Following German Confederation, in the mid-1800s, the flag of Germany showed three stripes. First black, then red, and then yellow from left to right.
Slightly different, the Belgium flag displayed black, yellow, and red stripes from left to right. The only difference was the slight displacement of the bars.
Later, Belgium changed its flag again to define it better and make it easier to distinguish from Germany’s. This time around, instead of going with the original horizontal stripes, Belgium turned its bars vertical.
It helped, if only slightly, as the Belgium vs Germany flag debate lingers on to this date, and both remain similar to one another.
Next, I have defined the individual attributes of each flag. This will give you further insight before discussing the differences in the showdown.
The Belgium Flag
If you’re interested in the history of Belgium, you’re probably eager to know “what does the flag of Belgium look like?” or “what is the Belgium flag colors meaning?” This section will explore the unique aspects of the Belgian flag that set it apart from its German counterpart.
The flag of Belgium is a tricolor banner with equal vertical bands of black, yellow, and red. These Belgium flag colors are not the continuation of German ideology as some might think.
Instead, these three colors depict the Belgium national colors taken from the Duchy of Brabant’s coat of arms. The vertical design was inspired by the flag of France.
When hoisted, the black vertical band is attached nearest to the pole. According to official Belgian protocol, the national flag is measured at a ratio of 13:15, with a 2.6m length for every 3m width. Each stripe should make up one-third of the entire flag’s width. As mentioned, the Belgian flag initially displayed a rearrangement of the German colors back in 1830.
Later in 1831, the colors were officially recognized as symbolism from the Duchy of Brabant and arranged permanently in a vertical form. Before this period, the official flag of Belgium went through a plethora of changes across centuries under Holy Roman (German), Spanish, French, and Dutch rule or influence.
After the riots of the Brussels Opera in 1830, Belgians replaced the French flag with the revolution colors and identified themselves as a totally independent nation.
Besides that, the flag has a naval variant with the three colors arranged in a diagonal cross, a black crown, crossed cannon, and an anchor on a white ensign to be used at sea. This variant was created after the re-establishment of the Belgian Navy following WW2.
Moreover, the royal standard of Belgium is the Belgian flag, defaced with a black crown and is displayed in royal palaces. Currently, it features a monogram of the letter ‘F’ for the reigning King Philippe. Before Philippe, other monarchs had similar personalized seals etched on the royal standard at their palaces.
The German Flag
After learning the basic facts about the Belgian flag, it is time to get to the national flag of Germany. This section will answer questions like, what is the flag of flag of Belgium, or what color is the flag of Germany so you can understand the differences in the next section.
The flag is a tricolor banner with three equal horizontal bands colored black, red, and gold. Most people mistake the German flag to have yellow hues similar to the Belgian flag, but that’s not the case.
But, what do the colors on Germany’s flag mean? The black, red, and gold colors currently used belong to the 1848 revolutions held by the popular unification movements that would ultimately lead to German Confederation and Unification.
With the formation of the German Empire the flag was changed again, with the gold bar being exchanged for a white bar. Some flags would also be defaced with a Prussian Eagle and/or Iron Cross. With Germany’s defeat in WW1 and the formation of the Weimar Republic, Germany started using the black, red, and gold flag.
After the Nazis took over in 1933, the flag would change once again, to the red ensign, defaced with a central white circle, bearing the black swastika tilted 45 degrees.
After the war, the black, red and gold flags were both adopted once again by the Federal Republic of Germany in the West and the German Democratic Republic in the East. They were identical, save for the GDR flag featured the emblem of East Germany; a hammer and a compass, surrounded by a ring of rye.
After German reunification in 1990, West Germany’s version of the black, red, and gold banner was made the official flag of all Germany.
While the gold variant is currently known worldwide, some far-right conservative groups still use the black-white-red flag after World War II.
Because those colors are not forbidden or associated with any Nazi symbols, as opposed to the swastika flag, which is still illegal in Germany. Today, the black-red-gold version is the official flag of the Federal Republic of Germany and a symbol of its constitutional order.
Similar to the Belgian flag, the German flag has certain variants that are used on special occasions and places. Firstly, the Civil Flag or the German Unity Flag is a plain black, red, and gold banner with horizontal lines.
It is used as the civil ensign and used by non-federal authorities who wish to show their allegiance to the federal government. Secondly, Germany has an individual Government Flag as well.
This includes the Federal Shield emblazoned across the plain black-red-gold banner. The shield covers precisely one-fifth of the black and gold stripes. The federal government can only use it.
Thirdly, enhancing the confusion of Belgium vs Germany flag, the German flag also has a vertical variant(!). Public buildings in Germany mainly use these without any specific proportions.
Specified by Article 22 from the German constitution, the flag should have three equal horizontal stripes of black, red, and gold. The ratio of the three bars should remain equal, while the length-width ratio should be 3:5.
According to the exact design, the specific color scheme includes jet black, traffic red, and rapeseed yellow, which is somewhat different from the Belgian flag.
See Related: 12 Dog Laws in Germany
Germany Vs Belgium Flag – The Ultimate Showdown
After assessing the components of each flag individually, it is time for the final Belgium vs Germany flag showdown. In this section, I have identified the multiple differences between each flag to eliminate any confusion for you in the future.
You see, both of these flags are seemingly similar but are entirely different when studied in terms of appearance, proportions, and historical symbolism. Each flag depicts a different ideology, so mixing them up would be an insult to the nations they belong to.
So without further ado, let’s check out the evident differences between Belgium vs Germany flag.
History and Symbolism
One of the salient aspects of any national flag is the historical heritage and ideological symbolism that backs the design. Interestingly, the flags of Belgium and Germany carry entirely different symbolic significance despite looking more or less the same.
The Belgian vertical banners of black, red, and yellow date back to the royal relationship with the Duchy of Brabant, dating back to the medieval period. They adopted these colors permanently into their national flag after the revolutions shook Europe in 1848.
The German national colors of horizontal black, red, and gold stripes have a more contemporary significance. They are derived from the Königlich Preußisches Freikorps von Lützow during the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
These were a group of soldiers who took up the task of liberating German-speaking states from the French. The colors are taken from the dominant colors of their uniform, which were black (known as Prussian Blue despite being ENTIRELY black) with red and gold facings.
Parts of Belgium had belonged to the old Holy Roman Empire, much of which was becoming the new state known as Germany, which might lead some to believe that Belgium adopted these German colors for their national flag – this is a misconception.
Instead, the Belgian flag carries its unique symbolism, even though the colors are almost the same.
While the only noticeable difference is the arrangement of these colors, the official color specifications are entirely different.
The black stripe obviously remains the same in both cases. However, in the case of yellow, the Belgian flag uses a different shade (#FDDA24 ) of gold, while the German flag displays a different (#FFCC00) hue of gold.
Similarly, the shade of the red stripe on both flags is also different. The German flag has a specific a different one (#FF0000) shade, while the Belgium flag sports a slightly different red (#EF3340).
Although this difference is not evident to the naked eye, it is present in the constitution of both countries, which eliminates the color similarity of Belgium vs Germany flag.
The arrangement of colored stripes is perhaps the only difference between Belgium vs Germany flag that catches the eye. The color stripes are arranged vertically in the Belgian national flag, with each color covering an equal area on the banner.
Initially, the flag sported similar horizontal lines as the German flag, the country permanently changed its design to its current state in 1831.
The German black, red, and gold stripes are arranged horizontally. However, just like the Belgium flag, all of the colors take up an equal ratio of the banner.
Apart from the difference based on symbolism, color shades, and arrangement, the two flags are also different regarding sizing and proportion. The Belgian flag, as specified in its constitution, is almost square-shaped with a ratio of 13:15.
On the contrary, the German flag is rectangular with a ratio of 3:5. Mostly, the sizing is ignored in unofficial representations, which leads to further confusion between the two flags.
That concludes my take on Belgium vs Germany flag debate. In a nutshell, while both countries seem to have flags of similar colors arranged differently, that’s not entirely the case up close.
Both national flags are based on unique ideological representations and carry a different color schemes and size specifications. Most importantly, the stripes on the Belgian flag are vertical, while the German flag carries horizontal stripes.