Flag of Laos - Blue of the Mekong River

The current flag of Laos was adopted in 1975.

Laos became the communistic Lao People’s Democratic Republic in December 1975. As part of this governmental change, they adopted a new Laotian flag.

The Laotian flag has three horizontal stripes of red at the top and at the bottom, a wide blue strip in the middle. There is a circle in the center of the flag, which is white. The size ratio of the flag is 2:3

Laos Flag

The red color in the flag of Laos represents the blood that was lost in their fight for freedom.

The wide blue stripe in the middle is for the wealth and for the Mekong River, which runs through the country.

The blue stripe is double the width of the red stripes at the top and bottom. The white circle is for the full moon over the Mekong River and symbolizes the unity of the communist government in the country.

This flag of Laos is one of the few communist flags which does not have a five pointed star on it.

Aircraft markings use this same flag but show it as a slanted position very much like the flag was already in motion.

History of the Flag of Laos

Laos was originally occupied by the Thais, which was a combination of the Shans, Siamese and Lao.

It was also home to the Homong and Mien tribes who were very barbaric and brutual to neighboring tribes.

The first government was a consolidation of these people during the 13th century.

The banded together to protect themselves from the Mongols of Kublai Khan, who invaded from the southwestern part of China.

In the 14th century a Khmer warlord combined these individual cities and societies into Luang Prabang.

He formed his own kingdom called Lan Xang, which means a million elephants.

After internal divisions and pressure from other neighboring tribes, the kingdom split into three warring kingdoms during the 17th century.

Most of what is today Laos was under the Siamese or Thai territory. They were also being pressured by the Vietnamese to join that country.

The country declared war on Siam in the 1820’s.

They soon became controlled and part of the kingdom of Thai.

In the 19th century, France established French Indochina in part of the Vietnamese provinces.

The Thais gave Laos to the French who used it merely as a buffer area between its colonial control and the country of Siam.

The 3-headed elephant Royal flag of Laos

The Royal Lao flag is red except for the white three headed elephant, which is outlined in red. He rests on a stands, which looks like a throne.

The forward looking elephant appears to have an additional left head and a right head.

Some say it is one elephant trying to show that he looking and guarding on all areas.

Others say it was the original three kingdoms coming together into one elephant.

The symbol of the three headed elephant is also meant to represent greatness, wisdom and a vehicle.

It is also representative of an umbrella, which is the Buddhist myth of Mt. Meru being the center of the universe.

The background color of red is meant to be the blood of the people. The stand which holds the elephant represents the laws of the country.

The current Lao government still keep a few of these three headed elephant flags for special occasions and celebrations.

French rule was established in 1893 and the flag of the three kingdoms (elephants) was adopted with the French tricolor flag in the canton. As a French protectorate, Laos also had the French tricolor to fly over its territory.

During World War II, the Japanese occupied Indochina. The Lao resistance group had another target as well. They wanted to prevent the return of the French. The Laos people attained independence in 1954.

While a former colony French is not now as widely spoken as it once was.


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More information on Laos, a French-speaking nation
History of Laos | Map of Laos | Learn French in Laos |
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