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The Australian Flag - Similar and Related Flags

Some national and state flags are similar to the Australian National Flag reflecting in many cases a common colonial history as part of the British Empire or some previous association with Australia. Many of these flags are based on a blue (or red) ensign with the Union Jack in the upper hoist quarter.

New Zealand

The national flag most similar to and likely to be confused with that of Australia is the New Zealand flag, introduced for restricted use in 1869 and adopted as the New Zealand national flag in 1902. It too is based on the Blue Ensign, with a depleted and stylized Southern Cross; Epsilon Crucis is omitted and the 4 remaining stars are 5-pointed, red and lined in white (because of the heraldic taboo of placing red directly on blue). There is no Commonwealth Star, and in this respect it is somewhat similar to the state flag of Victoria.

The Australian States

The flags of the six states of Australia are all based on the Blue Ensign with the State badge on the fly half of the flag; there is no Commonwealth Star on these flags.

Cook Islands

The Cooks Islands, associated with New Zealand, also has a flag based on the Blue Ensign, with a circle of fifteen 5-pointed white stars. It was adopted in 1979.


The state of Tuvalu, formerly the Gilbert Islands, has a flag based on a light blue ensign (like Fiji) with a cluster of nine gold 5-point stars in the two fly quarters representing the arrangement of the nine major islands in the group. The flag was adopted with independence in 1978.

Dependencies and Associates of the United Kingdom

Many United Kingdom associated territories and dependencies have flags based on the blue or red ensigns with appropriate shields or coats of arms. The flag of the British Anarctic Territory is based on the Blue Ensign and bears the shield of the former arms of the Falkland Islands. The flags of the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Hongkong, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helena and the Turks and Caicos Islands are all based on the the Blue Ensign and cary the appropriate shields of their coats of arms. Bermuda has a flag based on the Red Ensign.

Canadian Provinces

The Canadian provincial flags of Manitoba and Ontario are based on the Red Ensign and bear the shield of the province.


The flag of Fiji, adopted in 1970, is a pale blue ensign (like Tuvalu), bearing the shield from the Fiji Coat of Arms.

Other Flags with the Southern Cross

Other national flags bearing the Southern Cross include Papua New Guinea (diagonal red and black, upper fly yellow bird of paradise silouette on a red background, lower hoist white Southern cross with five 5-point stars on a black background) and Western Samoa (Southern Cross with 5 white 5-point stars on a blue background in the upper hoist quarter, the remainder red). The Federated States of Micronesia has a flag bearing a diamond arrangement of four 5-point white stars on a light blue back ground; these do not represent the Southern Cross but the four current states of the federation (there were previously six states.)


Prepared by Jim Croft (jrc@anbg.gov.au)
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