State Flags: Styles And Designs

While many countries have states – including Australia, the term is most widely applied to the United States. The United States consists of 50 states, 16 territories and a federal district.  The result is a bounty of state flags. They come in a wide assortment of colors and styles.

Basic Flag Styles

Style refers to the shape, the flag contents and the overall design of a flag. While many may be unique in their form e.g. the two triangle shapes of the flag of Nepal, the general shape of most flags is rectangle or square. What is also common among most flags is the content. The styles consist of:

  • Triangles

  • Crosses – “Scandinavian, St. George’s, Saltire, Southern

  • Stripes – vertical, central, horizontal, varying in thickness and color

  • Stars – vary in number, size and position

  • Crescent Moon

  • Circles

These are common components of flags from all around the world including American state flags.

Style and American State Flags

American state flags represent a wide variety of styles. Some are quite unique. Consider the pennant-like flag of Ohio and the yellow and black design of the Maryland Flag. Many of the flags contain the state seal. This is true for Idaho, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Utah, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and to name a few. Some state flags, such as that of Montana carries their state motto while in New Mexico’s flag manifests its Native American heritage.

American flag styles do conform in many instances to the different styles. They display stars, stripes and crosses. Most predominant are Southern Crosses. Several states have adopted this form in expressing their adherence to or cultural and historical connection to the old Confederate States.

The state flags of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi not only exhibit some form of the Southern Cross, they have adopted the colors of the confederacy. These flags also display the colors of the Southern states: red and blue. Tennessee, for example, displays the stars typical to a Confederate flag and uses the confederate colors but does not have a Southern Cross. Mississippi has a Southern Cross but combines elements of the Southern Cross with the Stars and Bars.

Overall, the American state flags exhibit a variety of influences that are regional and/or national. They are influenced by their local history and culture. The result has been very different expressions of state identity.