Following the creation of the Republic, a decree of the National
Constituent Assembly dated 19 June 1911 approved a new national
flag, which replaced the previous one.
The republican national flag is vertically divided into two
colours - dark green and red - with the green on the hoist or
flagstaff side. In the centre, superimposed on the colour boundary,
is the national coat of arms rimmed in white, over the armillary
sphere in yellow and highlighted in black.
The length of the flag is one-and-a-half times the height of the
hoist. Two fifths of the total length is green, and the remaining
three fifths is red. The emblem occupies half the height and is
placed equidistant from the upper and lower borders.
The choice of the colours and the design of the flag were not
consensual and gave rise to heated arguments and several other
proposals. The Government appointed a Commission to consider the
matter, and it was able to explain the choice in a way that won the
The Commission said that in its view, the white represents "a
beautiful fraternal colour, into which all the others merge, a
colour of simplicity and sincerity, harmony and peace", and on it,
"dotted with thequinas(five symbolic shields) (...), are waged the
first hard battles for Portuguese nationality (...). Then it is the
same white colour which, highlighted with enthusiasm and faith by
the red cross of Christ, marks the epic cycle of our maritime
The red in the flag "must be there as one of the fundamental
colours, because it is the combative, hot, virile colourpar
excellence. It is the colour of conquest and laughter. A singing,
ardent, joyful colour (...). It reminds us of blood and incites us
The explanation for the green - for which there was no
historical tradition in Portugal - was that during the preparations
for the revolt of 31 January 1891, the colour green appeared at the
"decisive moment at which, under the inflamed reverberation of the
revolutionary flag, the Portuguese people caused the redeeming
flash of dawn to burst forth".
The armillary sphere, which had already been adopted as the
personal emblem of King Manuel I and since then had always been
present among the emblems of the nation, enshrines the "epic
Portuguese maritime poetic adventure (...), that culminating,
essential deed of our collective life".
Above the armillary sphere, the Commission felt that it was
appropriate to place the white inescutcheon with the fivequinas,
symbolising the "human miracle of positive bravery, tenacity,
diplomacy and daring that managed to weave the first links in the
social and political affirmation of Portuguese nationality".
Finally, the Commission was of the view that "the white shield
with thequinasshould be surrounded by a wide crimson bordure
bearing seven castles", inasmuch as the latter are one of the "most
energetic" symbols of our "integrity and national