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Libya, 1951-1972

Last modified: 2013-11-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: libya | tribar (horizontal) | crescent | star | crown |
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The flag in 1951

Libyan flag] 1:2, image by Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni, 13 December 2011
Proportions: 1:2
Source: World Encyclopedia of Flags [zna99], p. 105 (dimensions corrected)

This is the flag adopted by Libya on independence in 1951. The flag continued in use until the overthrow of the monarchy in the military coup of 1969. The stripes represent the three constituent provinces of Cyrenaique (black), Fezzan (red) and Tripolitania (green). The colours are those of the Arab revolt flag.
Vicent Morley 27 January 1997

In addition on the information by Vincent Morley above, here is information on the Libyan 1951 flag from that time and from the country itself:

The source is the booklet The Libyan Flag & The National Anthem issued by the Ministry of Information and Guidance of the Kingdom of Libya. (Publication date unknown).


From the Constitution of Libya issued on 7th October, 1951. Chapter I, Art. 7

The national flag shall have the following dimensions: Its length shall be twice its breadth, it shall be divided into three parallel coloured stripes, the uppermost being red, the centre black and the lowest green, the black stripe shall be equal in area to the two other stripes and shall bear in its centre a white crescent, between the two extremities of which there shall be a five-pointed white star.

"The exact particulars of the Libyan National Flag prescribed by Article 7 of the Constitution shall be as follows: The red shall be sign red, and the green permanent green. The Crescent shall be on the hoistward side of the star, and the centre of the circle of which the crescent forms a part shall be in the centre of the flag. The star shall be in the open end of the crescent and one point of the star shall point to the centre of the circle. The maximum width of the 270 crescent shall equal 1/6th of its outside diameter which is 1/4th of the width of the flag. The distance between the tips of the crescent shall equal that between the uppermost and lowermost point of the star measured along a perpendicular forming the hoistward sides of these two points. The perpendicular shall form a tangent to the outside circumference of the crescent at a point equidistant from the top and bottom of the flag."

The flag is an emblem of the state symbolic of sovereignty and fortitude. It is flown high and free on buildings and offices in main streets and by-roads, on Libyan Embassies abroad, at the U.N. porticos and international conferences or at celebrations in which the State is represented.

Nations tend to create a halo of legends and tales around their flags which in fact reflects the procession of events and developments through which a country has passed. Libya is no different in this respect. Our coloured flag fluttering high in the sky is a source of pride which we associate with many episodes of chivalry and glory. In the words of a well known Arab poet "Our deeds are the colour of white, our battles of black, our meadows of green and our swords of red."

Though books and journals say very little about the background, the story of the Libyan flag and its colours is a vivid one imprinted on our hearts and carefully treasured and passed by father to son from one generation to an other. It is the story of lifelong struggle and reward, the story of innocent lives and pure blood shed in the cause of freedom, liberation, and defence of our country, the story of the painful past, with its dark lonely night and the smiling future with peace and plenty for the whole nation, the story of life itself, evolution and progress, development and change, the bright future, the noble aims and the long march.

The crescent is symbolic of the beginning of the lunar month according to the Moslem calendar. It brings back to our minds the story of Hijra (migration) of our prophet Mohammed from his home in order to spread Islam and teach the principles of right and virtue.

The Star represents our smiling hope, the beauty of aim and object and the light of our belief in God, in our country, its dignity and honour which illuminate our way and puts an end to darkness.

Every particle of soil in our dear country is soaked with the blood of innocent martyrs, every stone relates the story of continued struggle. They all stand as witness to the great sacrifices and the dear price paid for the sake of liberating our country.

The flag of my country is likened to a narrator who will tell our story to the future generations, the story of the past, the present, and the bright days to come.

Jos Poels 27 January 1997

The Sanussiyya leader became king and the Kingdom of Libya adopted a flag on 24 December 1951. On 7 September 1969 Gadaffi, Jallud and other young officers deposed the king and proclaimed the republic and the Pan-Arab flag (a red-white-black horizontal tricolour) was hoisted, at first unofficially and afterwards officially. On 1 January 1972 the yellow emblem (hawk of the Quraysh tribe) was added when Libya, Egypt and Syria formed the Federation of Arab Republics. In 1977 this flag was abolished in protest at the friendship between Sadat and Beguin and Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, but I think that a new flag was never officially adopted and use of the plain green flag remains provisional.
Jaume Ollé, 29 September 1996

Construction sheet

Libyan flag construction sheet] 1:2, image by Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni, 13 December 2011 [Click on image for full size version.]


[Lybian flag in 1951] image by Esteban Rivera, 21 March 2011
Image based on

The former roundel of the Libyan Air Force was the roundel of the Royal Libyan Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Malakiya al Libiyya). It most likely changed to the current roundel in 1970 when the name was changed to Libyan Arab Republic Air Force.

The Fin flash was the flag of the Kingdom of Libya.

Both claims (Roundel and Fin flash) can be corroborated on the following pictures of a Northrop's F-5 aircraft seen here: (the aircraft on the picture is serial number 22551, verifiable to be
dispatched to Libya as this source mentions so:
Esteban Rivera
, 21 March 2011

Flag of King Idris I

Depiction in Flaggen und Wappen der Welt A-Z
[Flag of King Idris I] image by Karel Chobot

Accepted around 1951, valid probably till the end of monarchy

Source: Jiri Louda. Flaggen und Wappen der Welt A-Z. [lou72]
Karel Chobot, 18 August 2003

Depiction in Flags of the World (1965)
[Flag of King Idris I] image by Martin Grieve, 13 August 2007

In Flags of The World 1965 by Barraclough [bar65], page 215, a different version is shown with the crescent and star being much smaller. The crown is of a different (although quite similar) style. Of the Lybian National flag 1951-1969, it is written:

The black stripe and its charges were from the black flag which the king had adopted when he was proclaimed Amir of Cyrenaica in 1947;the red stripe represents Fezzen, and the green Tripolitania.

The flag of the Amir mentioned above, with the addition of a white crown in the upper hoist, became the Royal Standard of the Amir when he became King of the United Kingdom of Libya.

Martin Grieve, 13 August 2007