The flag of Georgia (Georgian: საქართველოს სახელმწიფო დროშა; sakartvelos sakhelmtsipo drosha), also known as the Five Cross Flag (Georgian: ხუთჯვრიანი დროშა; khutjvriani drosha) was adopted in January 2004, and was originally the flag of the United National Movement. It was widely used during the "Rose Revolution" of 2003.
The current flag was used by the Georgian patriotic movement following the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By the late 1990s, the design had become widely known as 'the Georgian historical national flag' as vexillologists had pointed out the red-on-white Jerusalem cross shown as the flag of Tblisi in a 14th-century map by Domenico and Francesco Pizzigano.
A majority of Georgians, including the influential Catholicos-Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, supported the restoration of the flag and in 1999 the Parliament of Georgia passed a bill to change the flag. However, it was not endorsed by the President, Eduard Shevardnadze. It was adopted in the early 2000s by the main opposition party, the United National Movement led by Mikheil Saakashvili, as a symbol of popular resistance to Shevardnadze's rule.
The flag was adopted by Parliament on 14 January 2004. Saakashvili formally endorsed it via Presidential Decree No. 31 signed on 25 January, following his election as President.
The white flag with the single red St. George's cross was supposedly used by King Vakhtang I in the 5th century.
According to tradition, Queen Tamar (d. 1213) used a flag with a dark red cross and a star in a white field.
In the 1367 map by Domenico and Francesco Pizzigano, the flag of Tifilis (Tbilisi) is shown as a Jerusalem cross (a large cross with smaller crosses in each quarter). According to D. Kldiashvili (1997), the Jerusalem cross might have been adopted during the reign of King George V.
During Georgia's brief existence as an independent state as the Democratic Republic of Georgia from 1918 to 1921, a tricolour was adopted. The design resulted from a national flag-designing contest won by the painter Iakob Nikoladze. It was abolished by the Soviet Union following the 1921 incorporation of Georgia into the USSR.
During the Soviet period, Georgia adopted several variants of the red Soviet flag incorporating either the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic's name, or a red hammer and sickle with a star in a blue sun in the canton and blue bar in the upper part of flag. The flag of Georgian SSR was abolished by the Georgian government in November 1990 shortly before it declared independence from the Soviet Union.
The previous flag used by the Democratic Republic of Georgia from 1918 to 1921 was revived on 14 November 1990, by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia. However, it lost popularity thereafter as it became associated with the chaotic and violent period around the collapse of the Soviet Union. The wine-red colour symbolises the good times in the past and the future, while the black represents Russian rule, and the white represents hope for peace.
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