The National flag of Guatemala was adopted in 1871 and features a vertical tri-band made up of two colors; Maya blue (light blue) and white. The two blue bands or stripes are seen on the flag’s hoist and fly edges, and the white band is sandwiched between the two light blue bands. Maya blue is a unique bright azure blue pigment manufactured by the culture of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, such as Maya and Aztec. The two Maya blue stripes represent the fact that Guatemala is a land located between two oceans, the Pacific and Atlantic, and the sky over the Country. The white signifies peace and purity. The blue and white colors, like those of several other countries in the region, are based on the flag of the former Federal Republic of Central America. Together, the Maya blue and white give the flag its nickname, Azuliblanco (or blue and white).
Centered on the white stripe lies the Guatemalan Coat of Arms. It includes the resplendent quetzal (a bird from the trogon family, well known for its colorful plumage), the national bird of Guatemala that symbolizes liberty; a parchment scroll which displays “Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821 (15 September 1821)” in gold lettering, the date of Central America’s independence from Spain; 2 rifles that are crossed which indicates Guatemala’s willingness to defend itself by force if the need arises; a bay laurel crown which symbolizes victory, and 2 crossed swords, which represents honor. This flag is one of only three national flags of the state members of the UN to feature a firearm. The other flags are of Mozambique and Haiti.
The original flag of Guatemala was the flag of Central America. This flag was used until 1851, when new colors were added to the flag. The Spanish colors of red and yellow were added. It was in 1871 when a flag bearing the original colors was restored. However, the stripes were changed from vertical to horizontal and a new coat of arms was added. This became the national flag of Guatemala and has not changed since it was adopted in 1871.