There are 195 country flags flying high somewhere in the world. Some may seem very similar and most people have second thoughts when pinpointing them, but others definitely stand out from the group with their flashy symbols. So, what is the only country that displays people on its flag? It’s the country of Belize.
The flag of Belize has two men depicted in its center and they are of different colors. Let’s learn about why it is so and interpret the rest of the symbols on the Belize flag too.
The Two Woodcutters
The two shirtless men on the Belize flag are quite prominent and have been telling quite a story since 1950 (when it first appeared as an unofficial civil flag).
Originally, both men were of African background, but then their colors were changed so that one man stands for the mestizo population, and the other forthe Creole population. A mestizo is a person of a mixed race, most commonly with Spanish and indigenous heritage. A Creole is a person of mixed descent too, but usually with European and Black roots.
Today, mestizo make up 52.9% of the Belize population whereas 25.9% of Belizeans are considered Creole.
Regardless of the color, their profession is the same — they are both (strong) woodcutters. In a way, they are saviors of the nation. Here’s how.
The Mahogany Tree
For a long time, ex British Honduras i.e. Belize used to base its economy on logwood export. Most of the logwood was being used for manufacturing black dye. Nevertheless, by the end of the 18th century, more affordable synthetic dyes took over the market, thus endangering the Belize economy. In the pursuit of a new pillar for the economy, the mahogany tree emerged as the grand savior (sadly, to the expense of Mayan habitats).
What’s About the Oar and Axe?
The man on the left has an ax on his shoulder, while the right woodcutter has a paddle. The ax stands for the woodcutting trade, while the oar is to remind us of the most common means of transport in that trade. Log workers used to travel by river to get to the location and they also transported the log-wood via the river.
The two woodcutters are supporting a shield divided into three sections. The left section has a hammer and an oar, while on the right there is an ax and a chainsaw. Once again, these are typical tools of the woodcutting trade.
As for the ship, which is in full sail, it probably stands for the progress and the fact that logwood was mostly exported that way.
Sub Umbra Floreo
It’s all about the trees, literally and metaphorically. The Latin motto at the bottom of the shield means “I flourish in the shade” and refers not only to Belize forests but the fact that for a long time, Belize was a British colony.
By the way, the coat of arms is encircled by a wreath of fifty leaves, which represents the year 1950, when the first opposition to British rule started.
Is the Belize Flag Truly Unique?
Admittedly, the flag of Belize is not the only flag in the world with humans. The flag of Malta has Saint George on its cross, and the flag of French Polynesia also shows humans.
Yet, it is only the flag of Belize that has two people as the obvious and central image.