World Flag

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World Flag 2006

The World Flag was created to raise awareness and funding for non-profit organizations working in the areas of Education, World Health, Human Rights and the Environment. It serves as a unifying symbol inspiring positive global change while embracing and celebrating cultural diversity.

Created in 1988 by Paul Carroll, the World Flag is a global image meant to resonate with the people of the world. The design of the World Flag has in the center an image of the world surrounded by 216 flags. They include every national flag, the flag of the United Nations, the flag of Tibet and some flags of territories dependent in one way or other on larger countries. Because of their inherent symbolic, nationalistic, and subconscious power, individual flags offered inherent possibilities for Carroll’s vision. He wrote, “Moving individual flags into the global realm—transcending borders, race, and religions—creates unique impact from micro to macro and back.” He anticipated a quote from the New Scientist, 5 December 2007: “The power of symbols to both inspire and unite people finds its most relevant and meaningful perfection in the national flags and banners of the world.”

Design & Symbolism

DPv2 loves original research.

The distribution of the flags within the design is not random.

Symbolism found within the World Flag.
  • In the center is the Earth with a white background symbolizing peace and purity while the green represents nature.
  • The white of Japan draws the eye downward creating the image of a flagpole. This then becomes a Flag within the World Flag and also symbolizes a “P” for peace.
  • The fulcrum of Saint Lucia, whose triangle reaches toward the sky, symbolizes the fragile environmental balance of the Earth and its nations.
  • Japan (left) is one of the wealthier nations and Bangladesh one of the poorest.
  • The United Nations in the center symbolizes unity.
  • Just above Earth’s center the three sun signs within the flags of Argentina, Antigua & Barbuda, and Uruguay (left to right) symbolize the rays of light and hope shining into the flag of Tibet above. These four flags collectively represent the life-giving power of the sun both lighting the Earth and shining upward into the flag of Afghanistan, flanked on the left by Lesotho and on the right by Kenya. Within those flags are symbols of hope, peace, and freedom challenging the internal conflict(s) faced by Afghanistan today. The underlying meaning here exists within the tribal history of these nations.
  • Although not encompassing all the world’s religions, the next three flags above, Vatican City, Saudi Arabia, and Israel (left to right), are a symbolic challenge to transcend the politics of religion and find a common spiritual ground.
  • Above these the olive branches of Cyprus symbolize peace and hope.
  • At the top, the tree of Norfolk Island’s roots reach into the white of Cyprus representing peace as the soil from which new life may grow.
  • Above the United States flag is Ireland and below is Italy, representing the designer’s multicultural heritage.
  • To the left of the U.S. is China, symbolizing the opposing tensions of economic and military power in the world.
  • Opposing each other across the Earth, the U.S. and Russia symbolize the challenge of opposing powers whose collective actions can have major impact on the planet as a whole.
  • To the right of Russia is Swaziland, whose blue band represents peace and stability representing Russia’s movement toward freedom and democracy.
  • Below Russia is Barbados, whose trident is used here to symbolize Russia’s emergence from the depths of communism toward a more democratic system of government.
  • Above Russia is Nicaragua, whose blue and white pattern works visually to tie in with the blue and white of Russia.
  • The four corners of the earth are represented by Sweden on the top left, Nepal on the top right, Tuvalu the bottom left, and Malaysia on the bottom right. Each country is in a relative opposite location of the planet from each other.


In 1988, Paul Carroll was biking on a road near New Canaan, Connecticut, when he was struck by a cargo van and incapacitated. With only partial use of his limbs, Carroll passed hours of bed rest in contemplation. Carroll emerged from his rehabilitation with one goal: to create a symbol of world unity and cooperation that was universally recognizable and comprehensible. The World Flag Project was initiated to promote multi-cultural understanding with a focus on geography and common world issues through the global exposure of the World Flag.

Working on the floor with a set of 4-by-6-inch (10 ×15 cm) UN flags, Paul spent his days configuring and reconfiguring different designs for the original World Flag. His goal was a flag whose design and underlying symbolism could not only be interpreted globally, but also be produced and manufactured, the first World Flag that would fly around the globe. He set out to create a global symbol that would change and evolve as the world changed and evolved. He wanted the World Flag to grow organically, creating historical documents in time.

His 1988 design represented the 159 members of the United Nations, plus the UN flag. In order to create a 13 by 13 "flag" rectangle, Carroll eliminated a 3 by 3 area in the center. Placing Buckminster Fuller’s sky-ocean (Dymaxion) map made this space the core around which the design would grow. Major global concerns—the Cold War, Apartheid, the Middle East, and other political and social issues—all had an impact on the design.

Flying the Flag

File:The world flag flying.jpg
the World Flag flying.

In 1988 Carroll’s parents introduced the World Flag to delegates from the Society of Prayer for World Peace based in Tokyo, Japan. Impressed by the flag’s impact, they invited Carroll to participate in an upcoming event, the United Nations Prayer for World Peace in December 1989. This became the first public unveiling of the World Flag. The event was attended by Dr. Noel Brown, Director of the UN’s Environmental Program and Friends of the UN. The exposure and recognition from this event led the governor of New Jersey to appoint Carroll as Hoboken’s United Nation’s Representative.

After attending the U.N. event with Carroll, Don “Poz” Pozarycki decided to join the effort to fly the World Flag. The founders soon discovered that the flag world and its manufacturing capabilities were not up to the task. Creating a “real” World Flag proved to be both impossible and cost prohibitive. Countless hours spent with local, national, and Canadian firms, including Annin Flag Company, convinced the partners that they needed to look outside the flag industry. Carroll created the original flag, using silk on canvas, and the second flag, using paper on canvas, a process that was incredibly labor intensive and created, in essence, pieces of original art. Since producing real flags was not an option, the founders looked to the fashion and billboard industries.

It was then that the organization found a billboard company based in California that was able to produce large banners for both indoor and outdoor use. Employing a roller dot process with low-resolution imagery, the banners were made specifically for outdoor events. The organization commissioned two banners, one measuring 30 by 50 feet (9 m × 15 m) and another measuring 13 by 18 feet (4 m × Template:Frac m).

Working with the 20th Anniversary Earth Day Committee in 1990, Paul was able to secure potential locations in Central Park and at the World Trade Center to hang the World Flag. After months of negotiating, some at Port Authority felt that the image was too political. It took many weeks for Mr. Carroll, with the backing of the Earth Day Committee, to convince the Port Authority that the World Flag was meant to transcend politics. Finally, Tower One was chosen as the location to hang the banner. The organization faced a final hurdle in labor costs. It was then that Paul’s father, James Carroll, a long-time Union Steamfitter with Local 638 in New York City, convinced all unions involved to donate their services to fly the World Flag banner from the World Trade Center.

The day the World Flag was unveiled began sunny and very windy. The plaza between the towers, a natural wind tunnel, only added to the intensity. A small but impressive contingent of press was on site to record the moment. Despite the wind gusts the union men were able to hoist the World Flag well over 100 feet into the air. At last The Flag was displayed, creating an amazing visual image for all that passed by. Eighteen minutes later, a severe gust of wind howled through the courtyard, tearing the huge banner diagonally. Just minutes before the press conference was to begin, the World Flag came tumbling down.

Fortunately the smaller banner was scheduled for display at the Earth Day concert in Central Park, only days later. Here, hanging from the MTV press tower, it was seen by close to one million people.

At this point, Paul’s brother John Carroll and childhood friend Poz Pozarycki took to the road promoting the World Flag at various venues. John and Poz built a freestanding structure to hang the World Flag banner at each event. Over the next two years they attended international festivals, environmental awareness gatherings, concerts, street fairs, school assemblies, and many other events, sharing the vision with thousands of people around the United States.

Evolving the Flag

File:The world flag 1992.png
"the World Flag - 1992"

The next evolution of the World Flag’s design took place in 1992. With the Cold War ending, the fall of Yugoslavia, apartheid in South Africa, and the continuing trend toward a more connected global economy, it became evident that the new design should encompass the entire world, beyond the initial United Nations members. This brought the next incarnation of the image to some 216 flags. Carroll also changed the depiction of Earth to a more recognizable view from space. A major public unveiling of this flag was at the Alliance for Environmental Education conference in Washington, DC. Shortly after this event the World Flag Project took a hiatus until real flags could be manufactured.

In 2006 The World Flag Project founders reunited in Portland, Oregon and finalized an updated design. They researched the possibility of finally creating a real flag. Working closely with Annin & Company, using the latest advanced digital printing process they finally produced flags in February 2007. Technology had finally caught up with the vision of the World Flag.

Working with a local web design team, John Carroll has spearheaded the first concepts for a World Flag web site. Its initial thrust is to use the World Flag as an educational tool to learn about geography, languages, environmental treaties, and regional relations. The project will soon create a living text available to people around the world, enabling them to upload their unique daily rituals in real time. The flag of South Sudan is not on the World Flag yet.

The World Flag Today

File:The world flag bhutan.jpg
the World Flag in Bhutan.

The Project hopes to see the World Flag fly in every country around the world. In 2008 the flag has already visited elementary schools in Washington, DC; Kelly, Wyoming; Portland, Oregon; Pixvae, Panama; and Caye Caulker, Belize.

See also


Leela Vox Alexander (November 2009). "Last Word: Fly the Faith". Science of Mind Magazine (United Church of Religious Science). Retrieved 2009-12-07. Template:Dead link

External links