The World's 16 Least Inspiring Flags

People in some countries, regions, organizations and religions must contemplate high treason when they see the banner they're forced to rally 'round: ugly, wrong-headed, plum baffling, symbolic of failure. In honor of President's Day, an examination of some flags, past and present, that don't make anyone angry when burned.

#16. Antarctica

Meaning:

Non-existent. It's a landmass. It's white. It's the place you're in. It's literally Antarctica, surrounded by ocean. If anything, this flag's existence is a metaphor for make-work projects, and the peon whose lap it fell into didn't pad his deadline enough.

Drawbacks:

* You don't need any kind of flag to be reminded that you're in Antarctica. The urine freezing inside your urethra is enough.

* Hard for the kiddies to make out of construction paper in school, what with all 11,000 miles of coastland, detailed to the last inlet, sound and fjord. But then, who raises kids here? Asshole scientists. Probably.

* Not one penguin.

Motto inspired by flag:

"This is Antarctica."

#15. Jainism

Ah, Jainism. The Indian religion that's going to kill the next person who says, "What's it like to be Hindu?" Yes, religions have flags. Turns out that ineffable tenets of faith can be summed up in a few snazzy graphics just like the rich history of any country:

Meaning:

Each color represents a group who has done more than just drop some coins in the Jain Salvation Army pot. Monks, teachers of scripture, souls who have transcended the material world--they all get their own happy stripe. The three dots remind one of the "jewels" of Jainism: faith, knowledge and good behavior. If a man asks you to "embrace the jewels," make sure he's a Jain before answering. Or at least attractive.

Drawbacks:

* Just one. Can you pick it out? Let's face it, you could have the greatest flag ever, but a couple decades of putzes with armbands and your 1,000-year legacy is tainted forever. Even the transcendent souls must find themselves sweating when a B'nai B'rith tour bus pulls into the village. Sorry, entire religion of Jainism: your swastika is lovely, but ... you know.

Motto inspired by flag:

"Heil, mein f,hrerwalla!"

#14. Hezbollah

Overall, this is a pretty badass flag.

Meaning:

Hard to parse the subtlety. As if the red Arabic slogans weren't enough to loosen the bowels of western governments, the letters of "Allah" morph into a hand holding an AK-47. Wow. Was the dead Jew too difficult to draw?

Drawbacks:

* Once again, try and spot the flaw, just to the left of the arm. They'll tell you it's a minaret, they'll tell you it's a Katyusha rocket, but let's be honest. Besides screaming "Party of God," this flag screams, "Behold the mighty cock that will ream the west."

* The gun is higher than the leafy branch, suggesting Hezbollah values violence over ... over ...okay, why did they include the erection? I mean, you can't not see it. Are they trying to court gay radicals? Is there pressure from GLAAD Beirut?

Motto inspired by flag:

"Jizzbollah."

#13. Libya

Meaning:

Clearly, Libya wanted to immortalize the Green Revolution in flag form, but came up short on the "revolution" side, leaving a blank spinachy field. Possibly Moammar Qaddafi's lawn, possibly one of Qaddafi's millions of American petrodollars, possibly a tribute to Mark Rothko.

Drawbacks:

* Laaaaazy. Maybe the flag council was worried about inadvertently adding a giant wang, and avoided all graphics.

* We'd imagine half the fun of being a dictator is decorating every available surface with your haunting visage. It's part of your reward for a job well-assassinated. Qaddafi has missed a great chance to further scare his people here. We expected more from Crazy-Eyes Moe.

* Rothko would have his hands cut off in most Islamic states.

Motto inspired by flag:

"She's a grand old sea of snot."

12. & #11. & #10 Indonesia & Monaco & Poland

And now, the death of originality.

Meaning:

"Okay, get ready for this: red bar, white bar! Can I get an amen? No one, I mean no one, is gonna see this coming! The rest of the world can dick around with stars and triangles and more than two hues, but they're gonna shit a brick when we bust out this monster! What? Of course no one else on earth has thought of this! Red and white have no significance anywhere but here. If I'm wrong, may our prince's wife die in a car accident."

Drawbacks:

* Guess which one is Poland?

* Each flag has a fascinating history, they each have origins in the olden days and the colors have a long and storied histories, all of which was canceled out at the first Olympics when two dames showed up in the same dress, so to speak.

* Does this mean Indonesia is already halfway to brutally annexing another tiny country? Harsh.

Motto inspired by flag:

Indonesia: "Hey Monaco, what the fuck?"

Monaco: "Hey Indonesia, what the fuck?"

Poland: "Would you like to hear about Lech Walesa?"

#9. The Special Olympics

Meaning:

Now we know the real reason the Special Olympians aren't allowed to compete in the regular Olympics: These mofos have SIX ARMS. How is that challenged? They can swim a lap in three strokes. They can box you in both kidneys and three spleens. And the hugs--the hugs would last for days.

Drawbacks:

* Reinforces the negative "freak show" image of the games, while giving false hope to those of us who would pay top dollar to see such people compete.

* Whatever sport these hexapuses are engaged in, it involves making a circle. Beyond that, your guess is as good as ours.

* If the stick arms are meant to represent wings, then draw wings. Otherwise it just looks like a ring of poor schmoes flapping their arms. Message: you can't fly with Down Syndrome.

Motto inspired by flag:

"The spider people are closing in."

#8. Wallonia

Meaning:

Walloons have a deep reverence for that saucy dickens Chanticleer, iconic French rooster of song and legend, though not iconic enough for the French flag. Chanticleer is a rooster from a children's fable designed to teach children that the fox is smarter than the rooster, or something. He also appears in the movie Rock-a-Doodle, meaning the Wallonian flag violates the most important rule of flag design: your flag shouldn't be based around any characters that could logically appear in a movie called Rock-a-Doodle.

Drawbacks:

* Imagine going into battle behind a jive-talking rooster.

* Out of sheer immaturity, we present the French name of this flag: le coq hardi.

* Look at the flag of Wales:

Wales is about as important as Wallonia these days, but their flag is all kinds of awesome. There you have it Walloons, being regional doesn't mean you can't be cool.

Motto inspired by flag:

"I am frightened of you. Leave me alone with my quilting."

#7. Balochistan Province, Pakistan

Meaning:

The traditional Arab green, the rugged mountain spine in a desert backdrop, the holy star and crescent of Islam, and Pakistan's most prized commodity, the Baloch flying camel.

Drawbacks:

* None, really. Just a magical camel, gently gliding over the hills at night, perhaps on his way to cheer up a sick child. Or jumping really high. Over the moon, maybe. Either way, it's adorable.

* It's possible the camel is being dropped on an enemy. But until it lands, it's adorable.

Motto inspired by flag:

"A place much more whimsical and less war-torn than you think."

#6. Mauensee

Next in the parade of fantastical beasts:

Meaning:

Points for originality go to Mauensee, a picturesque lakeside town in the Swiss canton of Lucerne, which scorns the usual golden lions and eagles and skips right to the flag equivalent of a hash trip. You didn't know Victor Moscoso designed Swiss flags, did you?

Drawbacks:

* Suggests two terrible puns, "angel fish" and "flying fish," which we guess is better than "disgrace to our ancestors."

* Too cartoony to be truly daring, not cartoony enough to be a true parody.

* It's only funny if city fathers have built an entire fetish economy around this symbol--winged fish costumes, a festival, tourist tchochkes, theme restaurants. And even then, it's not funny if you have to live there.

Motto inspired by flag:

"Land of half-assed kitsch."

#5. Baie-James

Here's a case of three great elements that add up to horrible:

Meaning:

Unspoiled nature and hydroelectric plants go together like income and taxes, and Canada's own James Bay has plenty of each. The Quebec municipality of Baie-James crams a snowy owl, water and electricity into one box, which results in scary, green lightning bolts and white tendrils of owl smoke.

Drawbacks:

* Hurting owls makes the baby Harry Potter cry.

* The stars in the background remind us that the northern night sky offers a stunning view of the constellations of every dead species screwed over by man.

Motto inspired by flag:

"Zap! You're next, arctic hare."

#4. Sicily

We wouldn't want to bring the wrath of Sicily on our whackable children, but if you must insult Sicilians, you could do worse than telling them to "shove it up their asses," because they will immediately think of this:

Meaning:

The triskelion made of legs is an ancient symbol, somewhat related to the original swastika. The Isle of Man has also adopted it. But the Isle of Man left out the spiny, fuzzy stalks of wheat protruding from between those legs. Is it growing out naturally? Or does Sicily literally have so much wheat that they've found other, more satisfying uses for it?

Drawbacks:

* Depending on the artist's rendering, the face is either in surprised discomfort or ... kind of grinning. Does not bode well for your reputation as a nation of toughs. * The bottom-most stalk almost looks like it's tied in a noose around Medusa's head, which gives it a hint of Euro art-film pretension.

Motto inspired by flag:

"If you ain't had bread from a Gorgon's asshole, then you ain't had bread."

#3. Bermuda

Meaning:

In 1609, the mighty Sea Venture, an English merchant vessel bound for Virginia, smashed on a South Seas' reef, washing its passengers and crew on the shore of a new island. Thus Bermuda was gloriously discovered, and a classic crest idea was born. I guess that's ... patriotic? Sadistic? Maybe not so surprising, as this disaster is really the last time native Bermudans had an upper hand over their British overlords.

Drawbacks:

* Unfortunately, it looks like Bermuda's ship of state is in mid-plunge too, suggesting self-governance is not Bermuda's strong suit. The classy Union Jack seems to say: we grant you independence, your country sinks like a rotten barge.

* Depressing reminder of what happens when the British fall ass-backwards on to an island--namely, three centuries of colonialism.

* There must be 500 flags with lions on them, and this lion is the most pissed of them all. He wishes there had been no survivors.

Motto inspired by flag:

"Don't let the stark randomness of death keep you tourists from enjoying your Rum Swizzle."

#2. Drnis, Croatia

Meaning:

Saint Roch poses with a shepherd's staff, holding up his clothes to reveal a leg wound, as his dog looks on with a loaf of bread in its mouth. Rather than going through who Saint Roch was, why his cloak is red, what that thing on his staff is, what that shell means or how the dog got the bread or why this is relevant to a Croatian town you've never heard of, we'll provide only this most savory of details. Legend has it that Saint Roch cut his leg open on purpose to feed the dog. Presumably, before he found some bread.

Drawbacks:

* Saint Roch appears to be licking that pole.

* A scene in Cronenberg's Crash comes to mind for some reason.

* Violates the simplicity of the great flags: this color means bravery, this color means freedom, this circle is the sun, this diamond is that time we won the World Cup. Done and done. But no--the flag of Drnis is a fascinating puzzle box! Open her!

Motto inspired by flag:

"A tiny town with a nut-achingly complicated history."

#1. Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

What? You've never heard of the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic? You'd think a country with such talent for self-expression would be in every schoolchild's textbook. Observe:

Meaning:

One sure sign that your country will be axed is when people from your ethnic group invade the immense empire in which you're situated. Ethnic Germans living on the Volga knew they were gefickt when Hitler betrayed Stalin and sent his armies east in 1941. Maybe they thought the tiny letters on their flag would make the Russian army get up real close to read it, at which point they would presumably slap them and run away because they were too poor to afford rocks to throw.

Drawbacks:

* Simply put, this is not a flag. This is, at best, a letterhead. We don't believe anyone in this short-lived republic understood what a flag was. A lot of early SSRs rocked the red field and plain words, but most threw a token hammer and sickle up there.

* It's not even cringe-worthy--there's nothing offensive here. There's nothing at all, really. We don't care if your socialist ideals are too severe for snappy stripes or chest-pounding stars, this is duller than donkeyshit. The perfect flag to wrap yourself in while sitting in a damp hovel, smoking rat-poison-infused tobacco under a 20-watt bulb, hoping some party hack shoots you because you can't afford a noose.

Motto inspired by flag:

Brings us full circle to Antarctica: "This is the Volga German ASSR."

Read about The Insane Histories of the World's 6 Tiniest Nations, each of which has more moxie than all the above nations combined (moxie is illegal in the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). Or go read Mike Swaim's post about Allah, and stay for the funny pictures of Jesus.

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