It is fascinating how much you can learn about the flags of South America when you look at the stories behind them.
The Argentinean standard is one of the most distinctive flags when you travel South America. Its design comprises of two blue stripes and a white stripe in the centre along with the picture of the Sun of May which is a famous Argentinean symbol. Popular belief suggests that this is simply symbolic of the sky, the clouds and the sun but it is likely that there is a deeper meaning. The Sun of May is representative of the May Revolution that took place in the early 19th century and signalled the start of the rebellion against Spanish rule. The flag's colours are actually more likely to reflect the colours of the Bourbon house of Spain and were probably an attempt to show loyalty to Spain rather than to the French who had just occupied Spain under Napoleon's leadership.
Bolivia has one of the most deeply symbolic flags of South America made up of three equal horizontal bands of red, yellow and green. The red is representative of the blood that has been shed in achieving the country's independence, yellow shows its rich mineral resources and the green is symbolic of the vast swathes of lush vegetation across the jungles and the altiplanos.The flag also has a coat of arms at its centre which is a very artistic and colourful creation with a picture of the silver mountain in Potosi and a llama grazing on the plains below inside a shield. This is surrounded by a border which has 10 stars within it and this signifies the 10 provinces that make up the country. On the exterior there is various weaponry including rifles and muskets that represent the country's struggle for independence. The condor at the top stretches out its wings and this shows the Bolivia's willingness to defend its independence and liberty.Bolivia's national flag is made up of three equal horizontal bands of red, yellow and green. The red colour is synonomous with many of the flags of South America and is representative of the blood that has been shed in achieving the country's independence. Yellow shows its rich mineral resources and the green is symbolic of the vast swathes of lush vegetation across the jungles and the altiplanos. The flag also has a coat of arms at its centre which is a very artistic and colourful creation with a picture of the silver mountain in Potosi and a llama grazing on the plains below inside a shield. This is surrounded by a border which has 10 stars within it and this signifies the 10 provinces that make up the country. On the exterior there is various weaponry including rifles and muskets that represent the country’s struggle for independence. The condor at the top stretches out its wings and this shows the Bolivia’s willingness to defend its independence and liberty.
The meaning behind certain elements of this flag of South America could well be debated but the blue globe at the centre with 27 stars on is undoubtedly indicative of the 27 federal states of the country. The white band that runs across the globe denotes Brazil’s position on the equator and the wording which states "Ordem e Progresso" means order and progress. The colours themselves are not so clear cut. Many say that the green is symbolic of the tropical rainforests and that the yellow is for gold which is one of the nation's key natural resources. However historical evidence argues that these colours were actually put on the flag because they match those of the Royal Houses of Braganza and of Habsburg, the significance being that Pedro I who was from the House of Braganza, was Emperor of Brazil prior to the country's independence and was married to an Archduchess from the Austrian House of Habsburg.
The flags of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela all hail from the design which was used in the Gran Colombia flag prior to each country's independence. Gran Colombia was an area that encompassed most of the northern region of South America which included Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. This explains the similarity between all of these flags of South America. There is no definitive reasoning behind the colours on the flag which include three horizontal yellow, blue and red stripes, but many have speculated as to what they each stand for. Popular belief is that the yellow represents all the riches that the Spanish found when they arrived, the blue symbolises the two oceans that surround the country and the red is attributed to the blood that was spilt in achieving independence. Perhaps it was left open to interpretation because it was intended that the people of these countries could forge their own opinions. The difference with the Ecuador flag is of course the coat of arms which sits in the centre of the tricolor. This consists of a shield with a condor sat at the top which is a symbol of solidarity and protection from foreign invaders. In the shield there is a picture of Ecuador's tallest peak Mount Chimborazo with a boat that sails by on the River Guayas.
Peru is also home to one of the most familiar flags of South Amercia and consists of three equal bands of red, white and red and a coat of arms placed on the central white band. The red colouring is generally attributed to represent the blood that was shed in achieving independence from the Spanish occupation whilst the white is symbolic of peace. The coat of arms at the centre is made up of traditional Peruvian symbology. In the top left there is a vicuna which is the national animal of Peru and a close relative to the llama. In the top right is a cinchona tree representing the country's flora and at the bottom you can see a cornucopia with treasure spilling from it and this is thought to symbolise the wealth and resources that Peru has at its disposal.