National Flags

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This chart depicts the percentage of colours used in each of the world’s 256 national flags. They are in alphabetical order – starting from the upper left corner, reading left to right, to the bottom right corner. The first flag depicted is from Afghanistan, the last is from Zimbabwe. This handsome graphic is the work of Martin Krzywinski, a scientist and data visualization artist from Vancouver, BC. 

Two colours are prominent in flag design – red and blue. The most popular colour combination used worldwide is red, white and blue, followed by red and white. Mexico’s flag, with its elaborate emblem, contains more colours than any other country, totaling sixteen. Yes, sixteen.

Believe it or not, there is one colour you will not find on any national flag – purple. There are two main reasons for this. For centuries, due to the complicated process of producing purple dye, it proved too expensive to use in flag designs. Purple also has a time-honoured association with royalty, making it a risky colour for a flag to incorporate.

Greyellowhite #12

Rainbow Cards