Laos is a peaceful Southeast Asian country and is officially named as Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The government system in Laos is a socialist republic. If you want to learn more about this country and plan for Laos tours, you can start with the Laos national flag because the flags can tell many stories about the country’s history and cultural beliefs.

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Laos National Flag

History of Laos National Flag

Laos first adopted the current national flag in 1945 on the occasion of the first Lao constitution on October 12, right after the establishment of the new government – Lao Issara government. The flag was designed by a famous nationalist in 1945 – Maha Sila Viravong. Being an intellectual and a famous scholar of Lao literature, history, and culture, the designer wanted to create a Laos national flag that was distinct and different from the previous flags.

After the French takeover in 1946, the Lao Issara kept using the flag in exile until it dissolved in 1949. A communist-led successor of Lao Issara – Pathet Lao – readopted this flag. After the fall of the royal government in 1975, the flag was made the national flag of Laos by Pathet Lao (now Lao PDR).

Design of Laos National Flag

Born in the time of political crisis, the current Laos national flag used to be the national flag of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. The flag is in a form of a vertical rectangular with three horizontal stripes including a deep blue stripe in the middle of two red stripes. The blue stripe is twice as thick as the red ones. In the middle of the flag is a white circle.

The red stripes represent the blood that Lao people shed during the struggle for freedom and independence. The blue stripe resembles the Mekong River, a symbol of prosperity in Laos. The white circle in the center symbolizes the full moon rising over the Mekong River, a symbol of justice and unity under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party as well as the bright future of the country itself.

Royalist Laos Flag

The former Laos national flag had a completely different design. Before Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the country was under the rule of the royal government and the French. The royal monarchy in Luang Prabang adopted a red flag with a triple-headed elephant standing on a pedestal with a parasol on the top of its head. This flag bore a great resemblance to the flag of Thailand at that time.

Royalist Laos Flag

The design reminds people of the ancient name of the country – the “Land of a Million Elephants.” The white elephant is a popular symbol of the royal in Indochina as well as Southeast Asia. It also represents the god Erawan. Lao people used a triple-headed elephant to represent three former kingdoms making up the country including Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champasak. The elephant stands on a five-stepped pedestal representing the laws on which the country was founded. Meanwhile, the parasol on top of the elephant is a religious touch, representing Mt. Meru in the Buddhist cosmology. The flag was used from 1952 until the fall of the royal government in 1975 when it was replaced by the current national flag with three horizontal stripes and a circle in the middle.