The design of the Maldivian flag had undergone many changes since its first appearance. The first banner of Maldives was a simple red flag. Flags were originally meant to serve a practical purpose and red was the most visible color in a blue environment (ocean and sky ) .
Later on, black and white stripes called the dhandimathi were added to the red banner. These stripes represented an extension of the flagpole as in the olden days hoists were painted in white with a black strips spiralling upwards. This Flag was used until the early 20th century.
Between 1926 and 1932, Abdul Majeed Didi future sultan of Maldives (although he never accepted the crown) and prime minister of Maldives at this time added a crescent to the national flag.
At the same time another distinct state flag was created, adding a green rectangle to the national banner. This flag was created especially to indicate the British protectorate of the Maldives.
This flag was used until 1953 when the sultanate was suspended, the First Republic was declared after referendum, and the British protectorate briefly terminated. Maldives becoming a republic resulted in another flag change. The old national flag was dropped and the state flag became the new national flag. Only a change was made, the crescent was reversed in order to face the hoist.
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The short-lived Republic ended in 1954 after a revolution brought by the people of Male and the death of the first elected president of the country : Mohamed Amin Didi. Soon after, the sultanate was restored and the British protectorate as well but the flag remained unchanged. Instead, the new Sultan (future King of Maldives) Muhammad Fareed Didi created a new flag especially for him, adding a star next to the crescent.
A modified version of this flag is still used today as the Presidential Standard with the black and white hoist removed.
Between 1959 and 1963, Maldives central government faced an insurrection from the remote southern atolls of the Maldives Islands (Addu Atoll, Huvadhu Atoll and Fuvahmulah) also called the Suvadive archipelago. A new flag was created and displayed to represent this new born independent republic. They capitulated, rejoining the rest of the nation, on September 23, 1963.
On March 15, 1968, a national referendum was held and 81,23% of the Maldivian population favored the idea of establishing a republic. The new republic was declared on November 11, 1968, gaining independence from the British and ending 853 years of monarchy. At this occasion the black and white hoist was removed giving the flag its present form.
The red rectangle represents the courage of the Maldives heroes, and the blood dropped in the defense of the country. The green rectangle symbolizes peace and prosperity. The white crescent moon represents the unified Islamic faith.
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