Belize gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. In the preparations to become a sovereign nation the founding fathers went through a democratic process to select the country’s flag and national symbols. The following is a comprehensive description and images of the Belize Flag and National Symbols of Belize. All symbols were selected with bi-partisan support from the two major political parties the Peoples United Party and the United Democratic Party. See related article National Symbols of Belize.
Flag Of Belize
In 1819 the colony then known as British Honduras obtained its coat of arms, subsequently modified. The design featured a mahogany tree, reference the rich sylvan resources of the area, as well as a shield and two supporters. In the original design the supporters were of African background, but now one is a mestizo, the other a “Creole,” as the term is defined in Belize). These men hold tools of the trade—an ax and the paddle used to send trees downriver for export. The shield is divided into three sections—a paddle and a maul crossed on a white background, a two-handed saw and an ax crossed on dark yellow, and a ship sailing over waves on blue. The Latin motto “Sub umbra floreo” (“Under the shade I flourish”) is a reference to the area’s forests and its establishment as a colony under British protection.
The red, white and blue Belize Flag is a symbol of the unity of our nation.
Prior to Independence the People’s United Party (PUP) proposed a blue flag with the Coat of Arms in a white circle. Because of the close association of the flag with the PUP, public opinion was divided as to its suitability to act as a unifying symbol.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) did not propose a flag, but called for a flag that could rally all citizens, regardless of their political affiliation. As a consequence, the self rule government of the time appointed a bi-partisan National Symbols Committee that launched a competition and invited citizens to submit designs for a National Flag.
The winning design selected by the Committee was created by two public officers Everal Waight Permanent Secretary, and Inéz Sánchez Chief Education Officer. The Belize Flag is an Azure flag with Red Gules stripes at the top and bottom representing 1/5 of the total hoist (width) of the flag, and a white circle with the Coat of Arms in the centre. See related article Belize Coat of Arms
Important Belize Flag Factoid: The level of complexity in the design of of flags varies to a great extent from child’s play to impossible. The international design firm Ferdio based in Copenhagen analyzed the design of all the worlds flags by vector points in each flag. The Belize Flag is ranked in the top category of “Impossible”.
Design Of The Belize Flag
As we approached the Day of Independence on September 21st 1981, the government launched a competition for a flag for the new nation state. The competition was opened to the public and sponsored by the National Symbols Committee.
Several designs were submitted. But the committee selected a design put forward by two senior public officers – Mr. Everal Waight, Permanent Secretary, and Mr. Inéz Sánchez Chief Education Officer. Mr. Waight was former head of Radio Belize. The Waight-Sánchez team looked at the PUP flag which was white in the middle and with two horizontal blue fringes and added the country’s coat of arms in the center.
This was their first idea, according to Mr. Sánchez. But they considered that the opposition party, the UDP and their supporters, would never approve of this design. As the U.D.P flag was red and white, Waight-Sánchez then thought of including two vertical red fringes but thought that this did not look right. So they opted for two horizontal red fringes. The Belize Flag has a Blue (Azure) background with two Red (Gules) stripes at top and bottom. The Red stripes account for a total of 1/5 of the hoist (width) proportion of the flag.
“This flag was the very first hoisted over the independent Country at midnight 20 September 1981. The grounds of Government House by the seaside in Belize City were plunged into darkness. There was a misty drizzle. Almost no wind. The Union Jack was lowered. When the spotlight flooded the flagpole, there, flying proudly, was the Belize Flag. At first it hung there limp. Then a puff of breeze came in from the Caribbean sea. The flag moved a little. Then it unfurled. And flew proudly. Like the first cry of a new-born, a collective gasp was heard. Then a roar of life and vigour emanated from the assembled crowd of Belizeans and invited guests lucky to be there at the birth of our nation as it was now 21 September 1981. I was then Editor at Radio Belize, shortly to become an Information Officer. I was standing next to my Permanent Secretary Michael John ‘M.J.’ Hulse. Mr. Hulse, a very strict and conservative public officer. He was so overwhelmed by the import of this giant step in Belize’s history that he momentarily lost it and shouted for all that could hear over the din ‘Well now I can tell Mr. Henessy to kiss my a** ‘ – M.A. Romero – Chief Information Officer (RET) (This text © copyright 1981 by M.A. Romero and Belize.com)
In a recent interview Mr. Inéz Sánchez former visiting professor at the University of Belize pointed out that Belize’s flag is unique as it is the only national flag in the world depicting human beings. All other flags feature inanimate symbols or animals. The Belize Flag puts humankind at the forefront. – © Copyright 2014 M.A. Romero & Belize.com Ltd.
National Anthem Of Belize
Land Of The Free is the official national anthem of Belize. The lyrics were written by Samuel Haynes and the music composed by Selwyn Walford Young in 1963. Mr. Haynes was a disciple of Marcus Garvey and migrated to the U.S. where he became a writer for the The Negro World newspaper in New York City. It was officially adopted on Independence Day 21 September 1981. The anthem as originally written and composed was Land Of The Gods. But due to sensitivity that the word Gods could be interpreted as unchristian, the word Gods was replaced throughout the lyrics by the word Free.
The anthem is regarded by some Belizeans as not modern. But it has resisted all efforts to tamper with its original wording.
Click Above to play Belize National Anthem instrumental version as performed by the U.S. Navy Band.
O. Land of the Free by the Carib Sea, Our manhood we pledge to thy liberty! No tyrants here linger, despots must flee This tranquil haven of democracy The blood of our sires which hallows the sod, Brought freedom from slavery oppression’s rod, By the might of truth and the grace of God, No longer shall we be hewers of wood.
Arise! ye sons of the Baymen’s clan, Put on your armour, clear the land! Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee – Land of the Free by the Carib Sea! Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold, O’er mountains and valleys where prairies roll; Our fathers, the Baymen, valiant and bold Drove back the invader; this heritage hold From proud Rio Hondo to old Sarstoon, Through coral isle, over blue lagoon; Keep watch with the angels, the stars and moon; For freedom comes tomorrow’s noon.