Which Flag Came First: Mexico Or Italy?

Flags are powerful national symbols that convey history and identity. Both Mexico and Italy have iconic flags, but which country adopted their current national banner first? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Italy adopted its current green, white, and red vertical tricolor flag on January 1, 1797, over 25 years before Mexico first flew the green, white, and red horizontal tricolor flag that it uses today.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll trace the origins and evolution of the flags of Mexico and Italy to definitively determine which country’s banner has the earlier roots.

The History of the Italian Flag

Origins of Regional Banners

The history of the Italian flag is deeply rooted in the rich and diverse regional history of Italy. Before the unification of Italy in 1861, the Italian peninsula was divided into several independent states and kingdoms, each with its own distinct banners and symbols.

These regional banners represented the unique identity and history of each region, showcasing their individuality and local pride.

The Tricolor is Born – 1797

In the late 18th century, during the tumultuous times of the French Revolution, a new flag emerged that would eventually become the national symbol of Italy. It was in 1797, in the town of Reggio Emilia, that the tricolor flag was first hoisted by the Cispadane Republic, one of the short-lived revolutionary states in northern Italy.

The tricolor consisted of three vertical bands of green, white, and red, symbolizing hope, purity, and valor respectively.

The tricolor flag gained popularity and was adopted by various Italian states and republics in the early 19th century, including the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of Naples. Its symbolism and significance grew as the Italian people embraced it as a symbol of their aspirations for unity and independence.

Confirmation as the National Flag

The tricolor flag was officially confirmed as the national flag of Italy on June 19, 1946, following the end of World War II and the fall of Fascism. The Italian Constitution recognized the tricolor as the official emblem of the Italian Republic, solidifying its place as a powerful symbol of Italian unity and patriotism.

Today, the Italian flag continues to fly proudly across the country, representing the rich history, culture, and spirit of the Italian people. It is a symbol of national pride and serves as a reminder of the journey towards a united Italy.

The History of the Mexican Flag

The Mexican flag has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to before the country gained its independence. Let’s dive into the origins and symbolism behind this iconic flag.

Flag Uses Before Independence

Before Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the territory was known as New Spain. During this time, different flags were used to represent the region. One of the earliest flags was the “Guanajuato flag,” which featured a white background with a red cross.

Another flag that was used was the “Regency of the Three Guarantees,” which consisted of three vertical stripes: green, white, and red. These flags were a precursor to the modern Mexican flag and played a significant role in shaping its design.

Adoption of the Green, White and Red Tricolor – 1821

After gaining independence from Spain, Mexico adopted the green, white, and red tricolor flag on September 16, 1821. The design was inspired by the Regency of the Three Guarantees flag, with the green stripe representing independence, the white stripe symbolizing purity, and the red stripe signifying the union between Europeans and Americans.

This tricolor design has remained the prominent feature of the Mexican flag ever since.

Symbolism and Later Modifications

The symbolism behind the Mexican flag goes beyond its colors. The central emblem of the flag, known as the coat of arms, features an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. This iconic image is derived from an ancient Aztec legend, which symbolizes the founding of the city of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City.

The eagle, cactus, and snake represent bravery, strength, and the triumph of good over evil.

Throughout history, there have been some modifications to the Mexican flag. In 1968, a law was passed to standardize the shade of green used in the flag. The current shade, known as “Mexican green,” is defined as Pantone 342.

Additionally, the coat of arms has undergone minor changes over the years to enhance its visibility and aesthetic appeal.

Mexican Flag Italian Flag
Colors Green, White, Red Green, White, Red
Adoption 1821 1797
Symbolism Eagle, Cactus, Snake None

So, while both Mexico and Italy have flags with similar colors, the Mexican flag has a unique and symbolic design that sets it apart.

For more information on the history of the Mexican flag, you can visit gob.mx or gob.mx/segob.

Definitive Answer: The Italian Flag Came First

When it comes to the question of which flag came first, Mexico or Italy, the definitive answer is that the Italian flag came first. The Italian flag, also known as the “Tricolore,” was officially adopted on January 7, 1797.

On the other hand, the Mexican flag, with its iconic green, white, and red colors, was adopted on September 16, 1968.

The History of the Italian Flag

The Italian flag has a rich history that dates back to the late 18th century. It was during the Napoleonic era that the flag was first introduced. The design of the Italian flag was inspired by the French flag, which had a similar tricolor pattern.

The Italian flag consists of three vertical bands of green, white, and red, with the green band on the hoist side. The colors of the Italian flag hold significant symbolism, with green representing hope, white symbolizing faith, and red symbolizing charity.

Since its adoption, the Italian flag has become an important symbol of Italian identity and patriotism. It is widely recognized and respected both within Italy and around the world. The flag is prominently displayed during national holidays, sporting events, and other celebrations.

The History of the Mexican Flag

The Mexican flag, also known as the “Bandera de México,” has a more recent history compared to the Italian flag. It was adopted in its current form on September 16, 1968, although its design has evolved over the years.

The Mexican flag features three vertical bands of green, white, and red, with the national coat of arms in the center of the white band.

The colors of the Mexican flag also hold symbolic meaning. Green represents hope and independence, white symbolizes purity and unity, and red symbolizes the blood of the national heroes who fought for Mexico’s independence.


As we’ve explored, while both Mexico and Italy now proudly fly similar vertical tricolor flags, the Italian banner’s roots trace back over 25 years earlier, to 1797, clearly preceding Mexico’s first tricolor flag in 1821.

The iconic red, white and green emblem was thus flying high as a national symbol above the boots of Italy before Mexico’s own tricolor banner took its place in history. Both flags remain powerful patriotic symbols deeply intertwined with their nations’ identities over 200 years later!

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