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Jumhuriya Jibuti, Republique de Djibouti

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: djibouti | jibuti | peace | sea | star (red) | afars |
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  2:3~ [FIS Code] Image by Željko Heimer, 12 Dec 1995
Flag and coat of arms adopted on 27 June 1977.

See also:


Djibouti is a country in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast.  The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in the east.  From 1862 until 1894 the area to the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura was called Obcock and was ruled by Somali and Afar Sultans, local authorities with whom France signed various treaties between 1883 and 1887 in order to gain a foothold in the region.  In 1894 the French established a permanent administration in what was to become the city of Djibouti and named the region Côte française des Somalis(French Somaliland), a name which continued until 1967.

On the eve of independence in neighbouring Somalia in 1960 a referendum was held to decide whether or not to join the Somali Republic or remain under French administration. The result of the referendum was to continue the association with France.  In 1966, France rejected a United Nation's recommendation that it should grant the territory independence and later in that year the then French President, Charles de Gaulle, visited French Somaliland and following a series of demonstrations, he called for a second referendum to be held on the future of the territory. Initial results supported a continued, but looser relationship, with France. Voting was  divided along ethnic lines, with the resident Somalis generally voting for independence, with the goal of eventual reunion with Somalia, and the Afars largely opting to remain associated with France

In 1967, shortly after the referendum was held, the territory was renamed the Territoire français des Afars et des Issas (French Territory of the Afars and Issas). This was both in acknowledgement of the large Afar constituency and to downplay the significance of the Somali composition (the Issa being a Somali sub-clan).  The structure of government was also amended with the position of Governor-General being changed to that of High Commissioner. A nine member council of government was also implemented.

On 27 June 1977 a third referendum took place on the territory's constitutional future. A landslide 98.8% of the electorate supported disengagement from France and the country became independent as the Republic of Djibouti.
Martin Grieve, 26 Nov 2010

Description of the flag

The national flag of Djibouti was designed by Mr. Mahamoud Harbi. The national emblem was designed by Mr. Hassan Robleh, an artist. Source:
Ivan Sache, 12 Aug 2002

The proportions of the flag are stated by Whitney Smith in Flags through the ages and across the world (1975) [smi75b] as being approximately 21:38.  The colours are interpreted as being  white for peace, blue for the sea and sky and  green for the earth. The red star stands for unity.  This flag has been used since 1972 by African National Liberation Union(?), and then the colours were interpreted differently. Green was for the Afar Muslims, and blue for Issas (also Muslims) who later joined with Somalia.  The flag was officially hoisted at independence on 27 June 1977.
Željko Heimer 12 Dec 1995

I guess that the Constitution of Djibouti was drafted on the French model. The "description" of the flag is as ambiguous as the description of the French flag in the French Constitution. Which brings us no nearer to the vexed question of what is the official ratio. Is it actually 21:38, or is this as much of a vexillological myth as the Niger's 6:7?
Ivan Sache and Christopher Southworth, 10 April 2004

A note in Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] explains that the flag exists also in ratio 21:38.  The construction details are given as (2+2):(3~+3~) which isn't helpful. The star seems to be inscribed in a circle, 1/5 in diameter.  Other sources which I have consulted all give different ratios:
Flags and Arms across the World; Whitney Smith (1982) [smi82] : 21:38~
Shipmate Flagchart [vdv98] : 1:2
Flags of the World, Nicole Smith (1995) [nsi95] : 1:2 **
The World Encyclopedia of Flags, Alfred Znamierowski (1999) [zna99] : 21:38 (but with a considerably bigger star).

I have a theory, that would give quite another ratio. Suppose that the rightmost angle of the triangle reaches the midpoint of the flag, so that the non-hoist sides of the triangle fall on the same line as the diagonals of the flag. That would make the whole rectangle twice as long as the equilateral triangle, and that is exactly square root of 3. That is, I "suggest" that the ratio is 1:sqrt(3), so approximately 100:173. This is not quite close to 1:2, nor 2:3, nor 21:38. So, there are 4 variations to this flag to be considered, but as far as I could see they only differ in the "length" of the blue and green stripes. The triangle is unaffected - always equilateral.

The colours are approximated in Album 2000 [pay00] as :
blue Pantone 292c
green Pantone 361c
red Pantone 179c
Željko Heimer, 13 June 2001

The ratio of 21:38 is quoted by a variety of unconnected sources and so surely must have a basis in fact somewhere? The only explanation I can come up with is that the flag was originally defined by illustration or sample flag, and that the artist or manufacturer intended the length to be twice that of the triangle. A small drawing or manufacturing error would convert 21:36 into 21:38 would it not?
Christopher Southworth, 01 Feb 2003

When working on Album 2000 [pay00], I gave a ratio of 2:3. I relied on a sketch drawn in an official letter dated 22 July 1977 from the French Naval Authority at the time in Djibouti, the sketch having exactly that ratio 2:3. I only mentioned ratio 21:38 in a note because of the variations given in other vexillological books.
Armand du Payrat, 11 Feb 2003

The triangle in this flag is isosceles, but definitely not equilateral in my source (and in many vexillological books).
Armand du Payrat, 12 Feb 2003

Decree #97-0163/PR/MI prescribes the details of implementation of the Friday 18 December election and of the next legislative election. In article 5 it is noted: The ballot papers can be printed on coloured paper. [...] The combination of the colours of the national flag is strictly prohibited on pain of a 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 FD fee for the printer. Source: Website of the Presidency of Djibouti.
In 1997, the exchange rate was 1 Euro ~ 200 FD.
Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual, London, 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each National Olympic Committee was sent an image of their flag, including the PMS shades, by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for their approval. Once this was obtained, the LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specifications may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the National Olympic Committee believed their flag to be.

For Djibouti : PMS 292 blue, 361 green, 032 red. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 Oct 2012

Coat of Arms

Image located by Dov Gutterman at

Djibouti also has a seal, which seems to have the same use as the seal of the French Republic, i.e. sealing the official acts. The seal is of the same design as the coat of arms, and its official meaning is explained in the law prescribing it.

The "Loi n° 91/AN/00/4ème L portant définition du sceau de la République" prescribes the seal of Djibouti. The French text of the law can be read on the website of the Presidency of Djibouti:

Here is my English translation of the law:

Law #91/AN/00/4th L defining the seal of the Republic

The National Assembly has adopted
The President of the Republic promulgates
The law whose content follows:

In view of the 15 September 1992 Constitution;
In view of the 12 May 1999 Decree # 99-0059/PRE appointing the members of the Government and stating their remits;

Article 1: The seal of the Republic of Djibouti shall be represented by a laurel crown surrounding a shield and a lance surmounted by a five-pointed star. The shield and the lance shall be flanked by two hands each holding a traditional Djibouti dagger.

Article 2: The laurel crown shall represent peace granted to the Djibouti people after the victory obtained during the attainment of independence on 27 June 1977. The shield, the lance and the star shall symbolize defence of the national sovereignty and of the territorial integrity. The two traditional daggers held by two hands shall symbolize the culture and traditions of the people as the foundations of the National Solidarity.

Article 3: The seal shall be strictly reserved for the use by the President of the Republic, the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council. The President of the Republic can commission for its use the Minister of Foreign Affairs and accredited Ambassadors.

Article 4: The present law shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Djibouti as soon as promulgated and shall be enforced as a State law.

Made in Djibouti, on 10 July 2000.
By the President of the Republic, head of the Government
Ismail Omar Guelleh

Ivan Sache, 10 April 2004