Grenada

Hey, Fanatics! I am here with another installment of The Flag Review! This flag comes by request from a fellow reader. Today, we will head back to the Caribbean and explore the flag of Grenada.

Grenada is an island nation about 100 miles north of Venezuela and 160 miles southwest of Barbados (a nation I discussed in another post). The country is part of a string of islands known as the Lesser Antilles. 

Map of the Caribbean and surrounding area. Grenada is in the bottom-right corner, circled in red

Before it’s discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1498, the island was inhabited by the Caribs, who (it is believed) drove out the Arawak people. The Carib people were quite hostile to any colonizers and even chased out the English in their attempt to settle the island in 1609. It wasn’t until the mid 17th century that the French were able to establish a stable colony in Grenada.

As we saw in Barbados, plantations were the primary source of income for the French colony and the industry was driven by slave labor. After a few feuds in Europe, the French eventually gave control of Grenada to the English in the late 17th century. The English further expanded the plantation industry, bringing even more slaves from Africa to increase crop output (which was primarily sugar, then cacao beans). By the 1900’s, nutmeg became the primary crop export for Grenada.

Grenada was administered as part of the British Windward Islands until it joined the West Indies Federation in 1958. Below is the Federation’s flag, which consists of four white wavy lines, two on the upper half of the flag and two in the bottom half, mirrored, on a blue background; at the center of the flag is an orange circle (the sun), sitting above the white waves. This is my rendering of the flag based on images I found in my research. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate specifics about the flag’s dimensions, but the online consensus seems to be that the flag has a 1:2 ratio. The Federation was short-lived, however, and ended in 1962. I wanted to include the brief history of this Federation because the flag is awesome!

The West Indies Federation flag

In 1974, Grenada achieved full independence from Great Britain and with that came a new national flag. Prior to their independence, Grenada flew under a variant of the Blue Ensign of the British Empire. An ensign is a naval flag, typically flown on ships to designate their nationality.

The British Blue Ensign. Colony seals would go on the fly side of the flag. Its design is still used today by some British territories as well as nations that were once a part of the British Empire.

The Blue Ensign is a British flag, which consists of the Union Jack in the upper hoist on a blue background. For British colonies or territories, the Blue Ensign was used to denote their loyalty to the British Empire. Each colony or territory would add their colonial seal on the fly to differentiate their ensign from others. For Grenada, their seal consisted of a ship on the sea. But with independence, Grenada decided to change their flag and on February 7, 1974, when Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom, the new flag of Grenada (designed by Mr. Anthony C. George, a native of Grenada) was officially adopted.

The flag of Grenada

The flag is bordered in red. On the top and bottom edges of the flag, inside the border, are three yellow five-pointed stars (a total of six stars within the border). At the center of the flag within the border is a rectangle divided diagonally into yellow (top and bottom) and green (hoist and fly) triangles. At the center of this rectangle is another five-pointed yellow star inside a red circle. Including the one in the center, there are seven total stars, representing the seven parishes of the country. Inside the green portion of the rectangle on the fly is another emblem in yellow and red. My first thought was that it was some sort of flame, but it is actually a nutmeg pod, which, if you recall, is one of Grenada’s main exports. The flag’s dimensions interestingly differ depending on where it’s flown; on land, it’s 3:5, but at sea, it’s 1:2. The flag I show above is the version used on land.

The colors of the flag, red, yellow and green, have specific meanings. Red symbolizes the people of Grenada’s courage, unity and desire for freedom; green represents the nation’s agriculture and vegetation; yellow (or gold, according to the country’s government website) stands for the sun and the kindness of the citizens. But it cannot be a coincidence that the flag of Grenada uses the same colors as the Pan-African flag family. For those who are not familiar with Pan-Africanism, it is a movement that looks to unite people around the world with a shared African heritage. There are two main flags which are the basis for the Pan-African flag family: the Pan-African flag, created in 1917 by Marcus Garvey, and the flag of Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa.

The current flag of Ethiopia
The Pan-African flag.

Many African national flags typically derive their colors from one of these two flags. For Grenada, many of its citizens are descendants of slaves brought by the French and English colonies, so it isn’t surprising that the country’s flag would be influenced by Pan-Africanism and the flag of Ethiopia.

I absolutely love the flag colors because they complement each other so well. The yellow really pops when paired with the red and green. I don’t typically care for borders on a flag, as it makes it look almost like two flags, one superimposed on another. However, the flag of Grenada’s use of simple, yet meaningful, symbolism makes for a unique and pleasing design. The nutmeg isn’t too detailed and doesn’t clash with the rest of the flag; it’s a subtle nod to the important crop and a non-offensive way of incorporating it on the flag. All-in-all, I think the flag of Grenada is a warm, welcoming flag which proudly represents its people and history.

Thank you for reading!


Sources

Britter, E. V.B. (2020, Sep. 11). Grenada. encyclopedia britannica. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/place/Grenada

Central Intelligence Agency. (2021). Grenada. The World Factbook 2021. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/grenada/flag

Evans, I. O. (1959). The Observer’s Book of Flags. Warne. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Observer_s_Book_of_Flags/3KIKAQAAIAAJ?hl=en

Government of Grenada. (n.d.). National Symbols of Grenada. National Portal of the Government of Grenada. Retrieved 2021, from http://www.gov.gd/national-symbols-grenada

Prothero, D. (2000). West Indies. Flags of the World. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.crwflags.com/FOTW/FLAGS/gb-carib.html

University of the West Indies. (n.d.). The West Indies Federation. West Indies Federal Archives Centre. Retrieved 2021, from http://wifac.org/attachments/FedArchives.pdfZnamierowski, A. (2020). The World Encyclopedia of Flags. Lorenz Books.