Meaning and Symbolism Behind ASEAN Flag

The ASEAN flag is a symbol of unity and harmony among Southeast Asian nations. Its design and symbolism reflect the shared history and cultural heritage of the region, as well as its aspirations for peace, progress, and prosperity. In this article, we will explore the meaning and symbolism behind the ASEAN flag, including its history, design elements, and color symbolism. We will also highlight the significance of each color and element, and how they represent the values and ideals of the ASEAN community. By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of the ASEAN flag and its role as a unifying force in Southeast Asia.

History of ASEAN Flag

History Of Asean Flag
The ASEAN Flag has a rich history that dates back to the formation of the ASEAN Member States. The flag was created as a symbol of unity and solidarity among the countries in Southeast Asia. The formation of ASEAN in 1967 led to the need for a symbol that would represent the organization and its values. This resulted in the creation of the first ASEAN flag in 1967, which was later replaced due to visual and design-related issues. The current ASEAN flag was adopted in 1997 and is an updated version of the original design. Over the years, the flag has undergone several changes to its design, with each version reflecting the values and aspirations of the organization. To learn more about the history and evolution of the ASEAN flag, visit /evolution-asean-flag-design/.

Formation of ASEAN

ASEAN, which stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was formed on August 8, 1967, in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration by five founding member countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. The declaration aimed to promote economic, social, and cultural cooperation among the member states and maintain peace and stability in the region. Over the years, other countries joined to make ASEAN a 10-member regional organization. Below is the list of ASEAN member countries with their flags:

Country Flag
Brunei Brunei Flag
Cambodia Cambodia Flag
Indonesia Indonesia Flag
Laos Laos Flag
Malaysia Malaysia Flag
Myanmar Myanmar Flag
Philippines Philippines Flag
Singapore Singapore Flag
Thailand Thailand Flag
Vietnam Vietnam Flag

ASEAN was created at a time of regional turmoil and conflict, with tensions running high between the United States and the Soviet Union. The organization provided a framework for cooperation and dialogue among Southeast Asian countries, allowing them to resolve conflicts peacefully and work together on shared challenges. Since its inception, ASEAN has been guided by the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Note: If you want to learn more about the flags of the ASEAN member countries, you can visit our overview page.

Previous Versions of the Flag

Previous Versions of the Flag: Before the current ASEAN flag was adopted, there were several versions of the flag used by the organization. The first version of the flag was introduced in 1967, with a prominent logo in the center of the flag that contained 10 rice stalks representing the original 10 member countries of ASEAN. In 1976, a new version of the flag was introduced that was similar to the previous one but with a different logo that featured an intricate design of 10 yellow rice stalks linked at the base. This version of the flag was used until 1985 when the current version was adopted.

The second version of the flag faced some criticisms as there were problems regarding how to draw the logo correctly. Some people drew the logo with the stalks linked at the top instead of the base. Critics argued that this symbolized a breakaway of ASEAN rather than the unity of its members. As a result, the current version of the flag was developed to represent ASEAN’s unity more accurately. The ASEAN leaders had an aim to create a more simple and distinctive design that would represent the Association’s solidarity and integration better.

It’s worth noting that both previous versions of the flag have been displayed in various events, such as ASEAN’s 25th anniversary celebration in 1992. While the previous versions of the flag are not used anymore, they still remain an important part of ASEAN’s history and serve as reminders of the organization’s growth and evolution over time. If you want to know more about the critiques and controversies surrounding the ASEAN flag, read our article ASEAN Flag: Critiques and Controversies.

Adoption of Current Flag

The adoption of the current ASEAN flag took place a few years after the establishment of ASEAN in 1967. During that time, the organization had no single symbol that represented the whole community. The member countries recognized the need for a common identity, and thus, they began the process of creating a regional flag. The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting was held in Singapore in 1976, and it was then that the ASEAN Secretariat was tasked to facilitate and oversee the design and creation of the ASEAN flag.

The ASEAN Secretariat invited all member countries to submit their designs, and after thorough evaluation, a design by an Indonesian artist named Antonio B. won. His design was chosen because it fulfilled the criteria set by the ASEAN member countries. The design was launched and officially adopted on July 24, 1985, during the 18th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Since then, the current ASEAN flag has been the symbol of unity and solidarity among ASEAN member countries. Its adoption has helped to promote the awareness of ASEAN as an organization and its role in the region’s development. The flag has since become an essential symbol in every official ASEAN event.

It is important to note that portraying the ASEAN flag is not just a matter of aesthetics, it is also a matter of respect and dignity for the ASEAN organization and its member countries. As such, it is crucial to draw and display the ASEAN flag correctly to avoid any disrespect or misunderstanding of its meaning and symbolism.

Design of ASEAN Flag

The design of the ASEAN flag is simple, yet meaningful. Its blue background represents peace and stability, while the circle of 10 gold stars symbolizes unity among the ASEAN member countries. The number 10 reflects the number of nations that make up the organization: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The stars are arranged in a formation that represents the dynamism, interdependence, and solidarity of the member countries. The flag uses strong and contrasting colors, which make it easily recognizable from a distance. Its simple, yet powerful design has come to embody the spirit of ASEAN and its commitment to cooperation and prosperity.

Elements of the Flag

The ASEAN flag is composed of two main elements, a blue background and a circle in the center of the flag. The circle represents unity and integration, with the 10 points of the circle symbolizing the ten member states of ASEAN.

The blue background of the flag represents peace and stability. It is also a symbol of the sky and the ocean, which are common to all ASEAN countries.

The design of the flag is similar to that of the flag of the European Union, which also represents unity and integration. However, the colors used in the ASEAN flag have a different meaning and symbolism.

The circle in the center of the flag is in gold, symbolizing prosperity and hope for the future. The gold color also represents the wealth and resources of ASEAN countries.

On top of this, the circle is surrounded by a red band which symbolizes courage, dynamism, and passion. The red color is also associated with the blood and sacrifice of those who fought for independence and freedom in the region.

The design elements of the ASEAN flag aim to convey a message of unity, peace, stability, prosperity, and hope for the future. The flag is a symbol of the cooperation and shared vision between the 10 member states of ASEAN.

Color Symbolism

The color symbolism of the ASEAN flag plays a vital role in representing the essence of the member countries. Blue is the predominant color of the flag and represents peace and stability. It signifies the harmonious relationship among the member nations. Red represents courage and dynamism, symbolizing the strength and determination of ASEAN members to work together for their mutual benefit and growth. It also stands for warmth, passion, and the resilience of ASEAN people. White signifies purity, honesty, and transparency. It indicates the foundation of ASEAN is built on the principles of honesty and integrity, creating a culture of trust within the member states. Yellow represents prosperity and good fortune. It is an optimistic color and symbolizes the potential of ASEAN countries to achieve prosperity in all aspects of life.

Together, the colors of the flag represent ASEAN’s goal of building a community that is peaceful, dynamic, and united in diversity. The colors signify ASEAN’s commitment to working together to promote its mutual interests, while respecting each member’s individuality and differences.

It is worth noting that the colors used in the ASEAN flag are also reminiscent of other flags used within Southeast Asia. Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia use the same colors as the ASEAN flag and Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines flag feature similar colors. This reflects the shared cultural heritage among these nations and their long history of working together.

The color symbolism of the ASEAN flag is a significant aspect of its design. Each color represents essential values that support the overall message of unity, peace, and cooperation among ASEAN countries. The combination of colors in the ASEAN flag is a clear indication of ASEAN’s vision for a prosperous and vibrant future.

Meaning and Symbolism Behind ASEAN Flag

The ASEAN flag is a symbol of the unity and solidarity among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Each color and element in the flag has its own unique meaning and symbolism. The blue represents peace and stability, while red represents courage and dynamism. The white stands for purity and transparency, while yellow signifies prosperity and hope. The circle in the middle of the flag represents the unity and cooperation among the ASEAN member states towards the common goal of regional development and prosperity. The ASEAN flag serves as a powerful symbol of the shared history, culture, and values of Southeast Asia.


The color blue plays a significant role in the symbolism of the ASEAN flag. It represents peace and stability, conveying the group’s desire for harmonious relations among member states. Blue is also associated with the sky and the ocean, which are important natural resources in Southeast Asia and underscore the region’s role in global trade and commerce.

Blue is often linked with trust and loyalty. ASEAN member countries are committed to working collaboratively and supporting one another, and this color reinforces the importance of mutual trust and loyalty in achieving regional goals.

Another interpretation of blue in the ASEAN flag is centered around its association with prosperity and strength. While blue may not be traditionally thought of as a power color, it embodies a strength that is quiet yet resolute – qualities that ASEAN aims to exhibit in its decision-making processes and relations with other nations.

The blue in the ASEAN flag reflects the aspirations of the member states to work together towards a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Southeast Asia.


Red is one of the colors featured in the ASEAN flag. The color red is widely regarded as a symbol of courage, strength, and bravery. It represents the blood, sacrifice, and struggle of the people of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in their quest to achieve economic prosperity, social progress, and political stability.

Red is also associated with passion, energy, and enthusiasm. It is a color that evokes strong emotions and captures the attention of the viewer. In the context of the ASEAN flag, the color red is a reminder of the shared history and culture of the region, and the determination of its people to build a better future.

In addition to its symbolic meanings, the color red also has practical significance in the design of the flag. It is the second-most prominent color, after blue, and is placed in the upper right corner of the flag. This placement is significant because it reflects the geographic location of the ASEAN countries, which are situated in the northeastern part of the world.

The color red in the ASEAN flag embodies the spirit of resilience, passion, and progress that characterizes the Southeast Asian region. It is a powerful symbol of the shared values and aspirations of the ASEAN community, and a reminder of the challenges that lie ahead as the region continues to move forward.


White is one of the colors used in the ASEAN Flag. It is known for its purity, innocence, and cleanliness. White represents peace and stability, which is a crucial aspect of ASEAN cooperation. White also symbolizes unity and strength, the values that the ASEAN member countries aim to achieve.

Here are some interesting facts on the symbolism of white in the ASEAN Flag:

Symbolism Description
Purity The color white represents the pure intentions of the ASEAN countries to work together towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
Innocence The color white in the flag symbolizes the innocence of the ASEAN region, which is free from negative political and social issues that may hamper its progress and development.
Cleanliness White represents cleanliness and tidiness, which are fundamental values in the ASEAN region, where the people take great pride in their culture and heritage.
Unity The color white serves as a reminder for ASEAN countries to stand united in the face of adversity, and to overcome any challenges that may arise in the future.
Strength Finally, white represents strength, which is borne out of the unity and cooperation among the ASEAN member countries. It signifies the region’s resolve to overcome any obstacles and emerge victorious.

In essence, the color white in the ASEAN Flag represents the region’s commitment to working together towards a brighter future, free from conflict, poverty, and other social and political issues. It emphasizes the importance of unity and cooperation in achieving these goals, while also recognizing the valuable contribution of each ASEAN member country towards the greater good.


Yellow is one of the five colors present in the ASEAN flag. It represents the third guiding principle of ASEAN, which is social and cultural cooperation. The color yellow has significant cultural and religious symbolism in many Southeast Asian countries, including Buddhism and Hinduism.

In Thailand, for example, yellow is associated with Monday, the day of the week on which the current king was born. It is also worn on special occasions, such as weddings and funerals. In Indonesia, yellow represents the color of royalty and is often used to decorate the homes and streets during important events.

The use of yellow in the ASEAN flag highlights the importance of unity and cooperation in the region’s social and cultural development. The color signifies optimism, hope, and happiness, emphasizing the positive aspect of the regional union.

The use of yellow in the ASEAN flag can be closely related to the concept of “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” in Indonesian, which means “unity in diversity.” This concept emphasizes the importance of respecting and embracing cultural differences, while still working together for the greater good. The inclusion of yellow in the flag as a symbol of social and cultural cooperation is an important reminder of the shared values and goals of the ASEAN member countries.

To summarize, the use of yellow in the ASEAN flag represents the third guiding principle of the organization, which emphasizes social and cultural cooperation. Its cultural and religious symbolism in Southeast Asia, as well as its association with unity and diversity, makes it a fitting and meaningful addition to the flag.


The circle in the ASEAN flag represents the unity and eternal solidarity of the member countries. The circle has no beginning and no end, depicting the idea of continuity, integration and harmony among the nations in the region. It also signifies the constant flow of energy and the cyclical nature of life.

The blue color of the circle represents the unity of ASEAN, while the degrees of the circle are grounded in reddish-brown, symbolizing courage, dynamism and strength. The circle is surrounded by a white background, which represents the purity of the motives of ASEAN nations in its pursuit of peace and progress.

The placement of the circle at the center of the flag implies that the nations of ASEAN occupy a central role in the region and the world. The circle also signifies the importance of the sun to the region, as the sun, with its warmth and generosity of light, supports life and serves as an inspiration for the people of ASEAN.

The circle in the ASEAN flag represents the fundamental principles of unity, solidarity, and harmony among the member countries. It serves as a symbol of the success and progress of ASEAN as a regional organization, promoting peace, stability, and prosperity among its member countries.


In conclusion, the ASEAN flag is a unique representation of the unity and solidarity between the member nations. Through its design and symbolism, it highlights the values, aspirations, and history of the organization. The colors of the flag represent the diversity and rich cultural heritage of each member state, while the circle symbolizes the continuity and eternity of the ASEAN partnership.

The adoption of the current flag was the result of a long and thoughtful process that took into account the aspirations of the ASEAN member states. It is the embodiment of their shared vision for a prosperous, stable, and peaceful Southeast Asia.

Moreover, the ASEAN flag is not just a symbol, but a reminder of the responsibilities and obligations of its member nations towards each other. As they continue to work towards their common goals, the flag serves as a constant reminder of the unity, strength, and determination of the ASEAN community.

Overall, the ASEAN flag is a powerful representation of the organization’s values and goals. It is a constant reminder of the diverse, vibrant, and interconnected region that ASEAN member states work tirelessly to promote and advance. With its rich symbolism and design, the flag continues to inspire and unite the people and nations of Southeast Asia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does ASEAN stand for?

ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional intergovernmental organization composed of 10 member countries in Southeast Asia.

When was ASEAN established?

ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967.

How many countries are members of ASEAN?

There are 10 member countries in ASEAN:

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

What is the purpose of ASEAN?

The purpose of ASEAN is to promote economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region, and to enhance cooperation among its member countries.

What was the original purpose of the ASEAN flag?

The original purpose of the ASEAN flag was to represent the unity and solidarity of the member countries in the region.

Why was the original ASEAN flag replaced?

The original ASEAN flag was replaced because it was too similar to the flag of the Red Cross, which caused confusion and concern among international organizations.

What is the meaning of the colors on the ASEAN flag?

The blue color represents peace and cooperation, the red color represents courage and dynamism, the white color represents purity and virtue, and the yellow color represents prosperity and happiness.

What is the significance of the circle on the ASEAN flag?

The circle on the ASEAN flag represents the unity and solidarity of the member countries.

Is there any specific protocol for displaying the ASEAN flag?

Yes, according to the ASEAN Secretariat, the flag should always be displayed in a prominent position, and it should not be flown upside down, dipped, or draped. The flag should also be respected and not be used for any commercial purposes.

Can individuals purchase ASEAN flags?

Yes, individuals can purchase ASEAN flags from a variety of online retailers and flag manufacturers.


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