If you’ve ever looked at the flags of both Cuba and Puerto Rico, you have no doubt noticed that they are extremely similar. But are they identical? What are the differences between them, and why do they exist? We’ll talk about what you need to know about these two national flags here today.
The Design of the Cuban and Puerto Rican Flags
As far as the pattern is concerned, these two flags are identical. Both have a triangle on the left side of the flag with a star in the center of it, lying on top of a striped background that includes five horizontal stripes of alternating colors. These elements of the two flags are exactly the same. The only difference between them is their color scheme.
The national flag of Cuba has a dark red triangle with a white star at its center, with alternating dark blue and white stripes for the background. The national flag of Puerto Rico has a light blue triangle with a white star in the center, and an alternating red and white background. Not accounting for shade, the color of the stripes and triangles are simply reversed on the two flags.
Other than this, the two flags are different sizes, with the national flag of Cuba being a longer rectangular shape than the more square-like shape of the national flag of Puerto Rico.
Now, in the vast majority of cases, similarities between flags are just a coincidence and don’t really have any connection to each other. However, this is one of the few times where this is not the case, and there actually is a reason these two flags look so similar to one another.
Why the Cuban and Puerto Rican Flags are so Similar?
Cuba and Puerto Rico are not connected in any other way besides being in the Caribbean and part of the Greater Antilles. They don’t share a common cultural history which results in their similar flags. But what they do have is a shared experience of being under Spanish rule, as well as shared struggles in gaining independence from Spain.
Cuba was one of the first counties in that region to begin the fight for independence against their Spanish overlords. Their flag was designed in 1849 by Miguel Teurbe Tolón at the behest of Narciso López, a Venezuelan deserter from the Spanish military. It was adopted in 1869, but not officially recognized until 1902.
On the other hand, the Puerto Rican flag was designed in 1895 and intended to look very close to the Cuban one, to symbolize the solidarity and brotherhood between the two nations that had both fought against Spain for independence. The Cuban flag was associated with revolutionaries who fought for freedom, and Puerto Rican revolutionaries wanted to evoke that.
The Puerto Rican flag was first raised in 1897 while the county was still under Spanish rule, but it was not officially adopted until 1952. Between those two times, it was a crime to fly the flag, and doing so could result in ten years in prison.