This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Puerto Rico

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico

Last modified: 2012-11-16 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: puerto rico | united states | america | cuba | star | stripes | hoist triangle | usa |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors



[Flag of Puerto Rico]
image by Victor Quinones and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2008


Official Name: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Capital: San Juan
Location: Caribbean
Government Type: Commonwealth associated with USA
Flag adopted: 1952 (Designed: 22 December 1895)
Coat of Arms adopted: 1976 (First adopted: 9 March 1905)
ISO Code:
PR



See also:


The Flag

Puerto Rico's flag is 100 years old on 22 December. The NANDO News service on the net had a short report on the celebrations a few days ago. Some lines from the report:

"The flag was created in 1895, by the Puerto Rican section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, which advocated independence for Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spanish rule." (...) "Its design is the same as the Cuban flag, but with the colors inverted. It has five horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, with a white star on a blue triangle in the extreme left." (...) "Before 1952, police arrested anyone displaying the flag on charges of insubordination against the United States. When Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth that year, the flag became the island's official emblem."

Jan Oskar Engene, 21 December 1995

From <www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/8070/flag.htm>:
The National Flag is the highest expression of Nationality and pride for the Motherland. Back in 1511, Spain issues an official flag for Puerto Rico, based in the Coat of Arms authorized by the spanish monarchs.
On December 22, 1895, a group of 59 Puerto Ricans gather at "Chimney Corner Hall" in New York City and organizes a political group, attached to the Cuban Revolutionary Party to organize the Pro-Independence movement in Puerto Rico, still under Spanish ruling. According to the meeting acts, the flag "...is same as the cuban, but the color stripes are inverted..."
There are different theories regarding the origins of our flag, one of them names Manuel Besosa as the designer , in a letter written by his daughter she says, "...my father asked me to sew together some pieces of cloth, white, red and blue that he brought himself , this tiny flag had 5 alterned stripes, red and white, and a triangle with a five point star within it...".

This is the symbolism according to the 1895 meeting:

Red Stripes - The blood from the brave warriors.
White Stripes - Victory and peace after obtaining indepence.
Blue Triangle - Our sky and coastal waters.
White Lone Star - Our beautiful Island.

It wasn't but until 1952 that our Legislature approved the final symbolism of our flag:

Red Stripes - stands for the "blood" that nourishes the three branches of our government; Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.
White Stripes - represents individual liberty and the rights that keeps in perfect balance our form of government.
Blue Triangle
- stands for the "Republican Government", represented by the three branches.
White Lone Star - represents "The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico".
Dov Gutterman , 28 December 1998

There has been an issue during recent years regarding the blue tone of the triangle in the Puerto Rican flag. The 1895 original design used a sky blue, however when the flag was adopted officially by the Commonwealth in 1952 it featured a dark blue very similar to that of the US flag (which is the one depicted above). I dont know the exact reasons for that change but I suspect that the new commonwealth governement of the time did not want to use what had been a revolutionary independence flag. Nonetheless, with the celebration of the flag's 100 aniversary in 1995 the current pro- statehood administration decided to go back to the original sky blue tone. Still, there are many different tones of blue used around the island, even among those in public buildings. Most government buildings have switched to the sky blue but many still use the dark tone. Also, independence supporters like to use a very light blue tone while commonwealth and statehood supporters prefer darker tones. It has become possible to identify the status preference of people based on the flag that they use.
Victor Quinones, 24 March 2000

After this digression, the original PR flag was simply the Cuban flag with the colors reversed.  The blue was not dark but sky blue, as in the Cuban flag.  The PR flag was forbidden in the island from 1898 until 1952, but was flown in defiance by the black-shirted Cadet Corps of the Puerto Rico Nationalist Party.   After 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the original flag based on the reverse-colored Cuban one, but changed the hue of blue to dark blue, matching the USA flag.
Esteban Jimenez, 3 November 2000

I suppose the shade of red was also darkened, as the US flag uses "Old Glory Red" and the cuban flag uses a medium shade.
António Martins, 7 November 2000

Since 1995 the oficial flag of Puerto Rico changed. Now the oficial one is the sky blue variant. The Dark blue variant was ofical Since 1952 to 1994 and the governor of Puerto Rico in 1995 signed a law that the oficial flag of Puerto Rico is the sky blue variant.
Nelson L. Román, 19 December 2004

Ramón Reyes Díaz relates in "Claridad" the origin of the flag of Puerto Rico. On 21 December 1895, "Patria", the official organ of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, announced a meeting during which the Puerto Rico Section of the party should be formed. The meeting was attended on 22 December 1895 by 59 Puerto Ricans; it took place in Chimney Hall, New York. Torreforte, a survivor from the Grito de Lares insurrection, presented the new flag of Puerto Rico during the meeting. It was similar to the Cuban flag, but with inverted colours for the triangle and coloured stripes (red triangle and blue stripes for Cuba vs. blue triangle and red stripes for Puerto Rico). The three colours of the flag and the three points of the triangle have the same meaning as in the Cubal flag, that is the republican ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity proclaimed by the French Revolution. There are different hypothesis on the identity of the designer of the flag. Torreforte said that the flag designer was Francisco Gonzalo (Pachín) Marín. Antonio Vélez Alvarado claimed he was himself the designer of the flag. Roberto H. Todd said that the flag was designed by Manuel Besosa, member of the board of the Puerto Rican Section. The first flag was sewn by Maria Manuela (Mima) Besosa according to Robert H. Todd, or by Micaela Dalmau, according to Antonio Vélez Alvarado. The flag of Puerto Rico was used for the first time during the Yauco Attempt ("Intentona de Yauco") on 24 March 1897. In 1932, the Nationalist Party used it as its emblem during the elections. Blanca Canales hoisted the flag in Jayuya in 1950 when proclaiming the Republic of Puerto Rico. Lolita Lebrón used again the flag during the shoot-up in the United States Congress in 1954. The legislative chambers attempted to officialize the flag in 1916, 1922, 1927 and 1932, to no avail.
Ivan Sache, 6 January 2007

It would be good to check how much this alleged regulation is observed in practice, for many images of the (official or otherwise) flag of Puerto Rico I could found on line shows the same shade of blue (and red) as the US flag. There were also few with a lighter shade of blue (but with medium red, not dark).
António Martins, 14 january 2007

The only laws found is that of 1952 with the dark blue version Furthermore, on the official website of the Government of Puerto Rico, the version they display is the dark blue version, as well as in all Government portraits.
William-Jose Velez Gonzalez, 24 October 2008

Woodson Rainey asked:
"I am comparing the flag of Cuba with the flag of Puerto Rico On this site. The flag of Cuba has a blue field that is clearly an equilateral triangle. The flag of Puerto Rica has a blue field that appears to be isosceles with the two base angles greater than 60 degrees and extending into the banner by a dimension equal to 4 stripes.
Is this true or is this a printing/drawing illusion?"
No it isn't a printing illusion, however (and strangely enough), if made according to legislation both flags should actually have the same equilateral triangle at their hoist (the flag of Cuba according to Law No.42 or 1983 and that of  Puerto Rico by Act No. 1 of 1952).  Despite this, the Puerto Rican legislation is apparently ignored in practice, with the apex of the triangle only extending the centre point of the flag.
Christopher Southworth, 15 July 2009


Variants of the Flag

1)
Dark Blue variant (Official 1952-1992)
image by Victor Quinones and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2008

2)
"Sky" Blue variant (Official since 1995)
image by Victor Quinones and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2008

3)
Light Blue variant
image by Victor Quinones and Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2008

Concering the blue tone of the triangle in the Puerto Rican flag, here are the three commonly used variations in the island:
1) Dark Blue: Former official tone (until 1995), still substantially used by government and commerce and prefferred by pro- U.S. groups.
2) "Sky" Blue: Current official tone, used in most government buildings, substantial commercial use. Politically used mostly by pro commonwealth and statehood groups.
3) Light Blue: Preffered and widely used by pro- independence groups.
Victor Quinones, 6 October 2000

Do these two last versions has indeed a derker shade of red, as in the US flag, or do they use medium red, like in the flag of Cuba?
António Martins, 27 December 2000

>> Please answer WRainey@... and the list.
>> From: Woodson Rainey

I am comparing the flag of Cuba with the flag of Puerto Rico On the fotw site, the flag of Cuba has a blue field that is clearly an equilateral triangle. On the fotw site, the flag of Puerto Rica has a blue field that appears to be isosceles with the two base angles greater than 60 degrees and extending into the banner by a dimension equal to 4 stripes. Is this true or is this a printing/drawing illusion?
If made according to legislation both flags should actually have the same equilateral triangle at their hoist ... Despite this, the Puerto Rican legislation is apparently ignored in practice, with the apex of the triangle (as you point out and we illustrate) only extending the centre point of the flag?
Woodson Rainey
, 15 July 2009

As far as I know, it's not entirely true. The triangle is indeed isosceles, but with base angles smaller than 60 degrees, more or less for the reasons mentioned by Chris, I guess.
Well, we had sort of a middle ground, not quite as far as in legislation, not quite as limited as in usage. I've now drawn a new set of images from scratch that does distinguish between the two: Three flags with isosceles triangles and sky, dark and light blue, and three with equilateral triangles, with the same blue colours.
I haven't seen anything resembling a construction sheet, so far, so I've used a star size that approximates the star in the photograph of an actual flag on welcome to Puerto Rico site (which photograph, unfortunately, isn't all that big). The star is slightly smaller than the star in the drawing on http://www.gobierno.pr/GPRPortal/Inicio/PuertoRico/Simbolos/Banderas/Bandera+de+Puerto+Rico.htm, but I'm not too sure about that image, as it doesn't use an equilateral triangle. I've used the same red on all images; we do have some questions about possible difference, but as apparently no-one has the answers, I left it as it was for now.
Though our page mentions several times that the original flag was sky blue, like the Cuban flag, theoretically, the first flag would have been ocean blue instead, as that was the colour of the Cuban flag at the
time, according to our Cuban pages. I've done a Cuban flag with the colours reversed as well, and the ocean blue together with the equilateral triangle and a length long enough to keep the hoist triangle at the hoist only, makes it the best of the bunch, as far as I'm concerned. I expect the ideal design would be with the length being such that an equilateral triangle reaches the exact centre, but it probably has to be longer to give that impression while moving in the wind.


De jure since 1995
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


De jure since 1952-1995
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


Pro independence; official measurements. Non-existent?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


De facto since 1995
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


De facto 1952-1995
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


Pro independence, popular measurements.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010


Theoretical first version: Cuban flag reversed.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010

The reference to www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/8070/flag.htm can now be found at Reocities: http://www.reocities.com/TheTropics/Shores/8070/flag.htm.  I do wonder about the "...is same as the cuban, but the color stripes are inverted..." bit, though, as this would seem to say that stripes should be white and red instead. I wonder what the "meetings acts" actually say. Does anyone know where to find the text of these minutes? The government page does quote it differently, but do we trust that?
The quote Victor Quinones, 24 March 2000, contains a mention of the flag depicted above. However, the flag depicted there seems to have changed since, as it he refers to the dark blue version, and currently the sky blue version is shown at the top of our page.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 November 2010

See also: Puerto Rico - Political Flags


National Flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Puerto Rico: PMS 032 red, 281 blue. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012


Air National Guard

Puerto Rico does not have an Air Force but it does have an Air National Guard. I have not been able to find an illustration of any roundel for it on the web, but did find several sites selling decals for Puerto Rico Air National Guard markings, so they must have some sort of unique insignia.
Ned Smith, 19 April 1999

Puerto Rico is a non-incorporated territory of the United States, so it has no Armed Forces of her own. Our Air National Guard planes use the American roundel.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 4 March 2000


"Coquí" Flag

There's something green on the Puerto Rican flags. For sure, photographer Gregory Bull was not focusing on the flags...
Here is the photo from <story.news.yahoo.com> titled: "People line the street waving Puerto Rican flags along Fifth Avenue in New York Sunday, June 8, 2003, during part of the Puerto Rican Day parade. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)".
Francisco Santos, 11 June 2003

It is the Puertorican "Coqui" (a frog) which is a Puertorican icon. Over this coquí is written: Puerto Rico.
Nelson Román, 11 June 2003


Storm Warning Signals

According to this WMO page, Saint Lucia use the US signal set:
Extensively quoted from text: all references to flags and their meanings (information on broadcasts left out if not accompanied by hoisting flags). Sequence follows text.
- 56a (red pennant): "Small Craft Advisory: weather or sea conditions (either present or forecast), sustained for more two hours, that might be hazardous to small boats. Mariners learning of a Small Craft Advisory are urged to determine immediately the reason by tuning their radios to the latest marine broadcasts. Decision as to the degree of hazard will be left up to the boatmen, based on his experience and size and type of boat. The threshold conditions for the Small Craft Advisory are usually 18 knots of wind (less than 18 knots in some dangerous waters) or hazardous wave conditions.
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 41a (double set of red pierced black): "Hurricane warning: winds 74 miles an hour (64 kt) and upwards when in connection with a tropical cyclone.
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 39a (double set of red pennants): "Gale warning: winds within the range 39 to 54 miles an hour (34 to 47 kt).
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 40a (red pierced black): "Storm warning: wind 55 miles an hour (48 kt) and upwards, except that when winds are associated with a tropical cyclone, HURRICANE warnings will be hoisted for winds 74 miles an hour (64 kt) and upwards. (...)
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
Jan Mertens, 20 April 2008