Quick Fact | THE ETHIOPIAN FLAG – A Brief History
Ethiopia has traditionally identified its green-yellow-red national flag with the rainbow that, according to the book of Genesis in the Bible, God set in the heavens after the Flood. Pennants of those three colours had been displayed before the first official flag was established by Emperor Menilek II on October 6, 1897; his flag bore on the yellow stripe the first letter of his name in Amharic script. Later the imperial coat of arms—consisting of the “Conquering Lion of Judah,” a lion holding a staff topped by a cross with ribbons in the three national colours—appeared on the flag when it was used for official purposes. The lion symbolically asserted that Emperor Menilek I had been the son of the Queen of Sheba and the biblical King Solomon. The first legal definition was given to the lion flag in November 1932, soon after the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie. It remained in use until the overthrow of the empire in 1974, except for those years (1936–41) when the country was occupied by Italy. Later governments have replaced the lion at the center of the flag with symbols they believe reflects their philosophy, while the lion bearing the cross and crown remains popular among non-official groups.