Swiss flag

Since the 14th century, a white cross on a red background has been the insignia of Swiss soldiers. When Switzerland's federal constitution was adopted in 1848, the white cross in a red square became the country's official national flag. Its square shape distinguishes it from other flags.

Swiss flag
Both the red colour and the dimensions of the white cross of the square Swiss flag are precisely prescribed, and the German-speaking Swiss call it a "Fahne" as opposed to "Flagge", the word for flag used in Germany. © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Origins and history

The roots of the red flag with the white cross go back to the battle of Laupen in the canton of Bern in 1339. To distinguish themselves from the other parties on the battlefield, the Swiss soldiers had sewn a white cross onto their chain mail. Later, the cross appeared on the weapons and banners of Swiss soldiers.

During the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803), Napoleon Bonaparte decreed that Switzerland shall adopt a tricoloured flag in green, red and yellow. This gave Switzerland its first national flag. Immediately after the abolition of the Helvetic Republic, the flag was also abandoned.

The Swiss Confederation's flag's current design was created in 1840. In Switzerland, the term "Fahne" is used instead of "Flagge", used in Germany. Historians do not agree as to why the background colour is red. Some think it refers to the blood of Christ, while others suspect that the red comes from the Bernese flag of the time. The square shape came about because military coats of arms at the time were square. In 1848, the red flag with the white cross was definitively enshrined in Switzerland's constitution as the country's national emblem.


One of the distinctive characteristics of the Swiss flag is its square shape. Apart from the Vatican's flag, it is the world's only flag in this shape. On the other hand, Switzerland's coat of arms and flag do not differ as in other countries: the square red flag with a white cross is used across the board.

Its shade of red is Pantone 485C, a mixture of magenta and yellow. The white cross is centred in the middle of the flag. The arms of the cross are one-sixth longer than they are wide.