|Use||Civil and state flag, civil and state ensign|
|Adopted||4 November 1875|
|Design||A red field with the white rectangle on the upper hoist-side corner bearing the red Greek Cross in the centre.|
|Name||Naval Ensign of Tonga|
|Name||Royal Standard of Tonga|
The flag of Tonga consists of a red field with a white canton charged with a red couped cross. Adopted in 1875 after being officially enshrined into the nation's constitution, it has been the flag of the Kingdom of Tonga since that year. The constitution stipulates that the national flag can never be changed.
The British first arrived in Tonga in the late-18th century, when Captain James Cook made three visits to the islands between 1773 and 1777.Approximately fifty years later, English Wesleyan Methodist missionaries came to Tonga and began converting the islanders to Christianity. In 1831, they succeeded in converting "paramount chief" Taufa'ahau Tupou, who became King George Tupou I in 1845. It was during this time (circa 1840s) that the first Tongan flag was adopted. It consisted of a white field with a cross (either red or blue in colour) at all four corners, and the letters "A" (in red) and "M" (in blue) at the centre that symbolise the king.
Upon his accession to the throne, the king sought to design a new flag for the nation,one that would represent Christianity. He befriended Shirley Waldemar Baker – a member of the United Kingdom's Tongan mission who later became the Prime Minister of Tonga – and they worked together to formulate a new flag, coat of arms and national anthem for Tonga. The new design resembled the British Red Ensign, in that three-quarters of it consisted of a simple red field, with a "distinctive canton" featured in the upper hoist section; this was first used in 1866. A new constitution for the kingdom was formulated and proclaimed on 4 November 1875. It codified the new flag design, and marks when it was adopted as the national flag. Under Article 47 of the Constitution, the flag can "never be altered" and "shall always be the flag" of Tonga.
The colours and symbols of the flag carry cultural, political, and regional meanings. The red couped cross alludes to Christianity,the religion practised by approximately 97% of the country's population. It is one of 28 national flags to contain overtly Christian symbols. The white epitomises purity, while the red evokes the sacrifice of the Blood of Christ, which he shed during his Crucifixion.
The previous design of the flag featured a plain white field charged with the red couped cross. However, it was later discovered that this flag was almost identical to the emblem of the International Red Cross, which had been adopted in 1863. As a result of this finding, the Tongan flag was set at the canton of a red field instead, leading to the present design of the flag.The previous design, nonetheless, remains a national symbol of Tonga. The current flag of Tonga also has some similarities with the flags of Switzerland and Georgia.
A national flag is a flag that represents and symbolizes a given nation. It is flown by the government of that nation, but usually can also be flown by its citizens. A national flag is typically designed with specific meanings for its colours and symbols, which may also be used separately from the flag as a symbol of the nation. The design of a national flag is sometimes altered after the occurrence of important historical events. The burning or destruction of a national flag is a greatly symbolic act.
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A canton in a flag is a rectangular area, usually at the top hoist corner of a flag, occupying up to a quarter of the flag's area. The canton of a flag may be a flag in its own right. For instance, British ensigns have the Union Jack as their canton, as do their derivatives such as the national flags of Australia and New Zealand.
The White Ensign, at one time called the St George's Ensign due to the simultaneous existence of a cross-less version of the flag, is an ensign worn on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. It consists of a red St George's Cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the upper canton.
The Christian Flag is an ecumenical flag designed in the early 20th century to represent all of Christianity and Christendom. Since its adoption by the United States Federal Council of Churches in 1942, it has been used by many Christian traditions, including the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, and Reformed, among others.
A Nordic cross flag is a flag bearing the design of the Nordic or Scandinavian cross, a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the centre of the cross shifted towards the hoist.
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This article is a vexillological summary of all flags and symbols in current use by the island nation of Malta. More information on the history of the various flags and emblems, as well as on their equivalents which are no longer in use, is found on the specific articles, linked to in the subtitle headings.
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The history of Christian flags encompasses the establishment of Christian states, the Crusader era, and the 20th century ecumenical movement.
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