|Use||Civil and state flag and civil ensign|
|Adopted||18 November 1918|
|Design||Three horizontal bands of maroon, white (half-width), and maroon.|
|Variant flag of Latvia|
|Design||White field with cross voided in the colors of the State Flag (the width of the arms of the cross is 1/5 of the flag width).|
The national flag of Latvia was used by independent Latvia from 1918 until the country was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Its use was suppressed during Soviet rule. After regaining its independence, Latvia re-adopted on 27 February 1990 the same red-white-red flag.
Though officially adopted in 1922, the Latvian flag was in use as early as the 13th century. The red colour is sometimes described as symbolizing the readiness of the Latvians to give the blood from their hearts for freedom and their willingness to defend their liberty. An alternative interpretation, according to one legend, is that a Latvian leader was wounded in battle, and the edge of the white sheet in which he was wrapped were stained by his blood. The white stripe may stand for the sheet that wrapped him. This story is similar to the legend of the origins of the flag of Austria.
The red-white-red Latvian flag was first mentioned in the chapters of Ditleb von Alnpeke’s Rhymed Chronicle of Livonia (Livländische Reimchronik). This historical evidence places the Latvian flag among the oldest flags in the world. The chronicle tells about a battle that took place around 1280, in which ancient Latvian tribes from Cēsis, a city in the northern part of Latvia, went to war, bearing a red flag with a white stripe.
A legend refers to a mortally wounded chief of a Latvian tribe who was wrapped in a white sheet. The part of the sheet on which he was lying remained white, but the two edges were stained in his blood. During the next battle the bloodstained sheet was used as a flag. According to the legend this time the Latvian warriors were successful and drove the enemy away. Ever since then Latvian tribes have used these colours.
Based on the aforementioned historical record, the present day flag design was adapted by artist Ansis Cīrulis in May 1917. The Latvian national flag, together with the national coat of arms was affirmed in this format by a special parliamentary decree of the Republic of Latvia passed on 15 June 1921.
Colours and proportions 
The "red" colour of the Latvian flag is in fact maroon, a particularly dark shade of red which is composed of brown and purple. It is sometimes referred to as Latvian red. The flag's colour proportions are 2:1:2 (the upper and lower red bands each being twice as wide as the central white band), and the ratio of the height of the flag to its width is fixed at 1:2.
Display of the flag 
Latvian law states that the flag and national colours can be displayed and used as an ornament if proper respect to the flag is guaranteed. Destruction, disrespectful treatment or incorrect display of the flag is punishable by law.
The flag shall be placed at least 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) above the ground and properly secured to the flagstaff. The flagstaff shall be longer than the longest side of the flag, straight, painted white, and preferably made of wood. The finial at the tip of the flagstaff shall be wider than the flagstaff. Where the flag is not displayed continuously, it shall be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. If flown for a festival or funeral, it shall be raised before and lowered after the end of the occasion.
If the flag is flown from a flagpole in mourning, it shall be raised to half-mast. If fixed to a flagstaff, a black ribbon whose width is 1⁄20 the width of the flag shall be secured to the flagstaff above the flag; the ribbon shall be of sufficient length to span the width of the flag.
Flag days 
- 25 March (in mourning) — In memory of victims of communist genocide
- 1 May — Constitution Day, Labour Day
- 4 May — Restoration of Independence (1990)
- 14 June (in mourning) — In memory of victims of communist genocide
- 17 June (in mourning) — Beginning of the Soviet occupation in Latvia
- 4 July (in mourning) — In memory of victims of the Holocaust
- 11 November — Lāčplēsis Day
- 18 November — Independence Day (1918)
- First Sunday in December (in mourning) — In memory of victims of communist genocide
Official standards 
Presidential Standard of Latvia 
The Standard of the President is white with the rectangular cross in the colour proportions of the national flag. In the centre of the cross covering the interruption of the colours of the national flag there is the Coat of Arms of Latvia. The height of the Coat of Arms is 1⁄3 of the width of the Standard, the centre of the sun depicted on the shield of the Coat of Arms is in the centre of the Standard. The proportion between the width of the national colours and that of the Standard is 1:5. The proportion between the length and width of the Standard is 3:2.
Standard of the Prime Minister of Latvia 
The Standard of the Prime Minister of Latvia is white with the symmetric cross in the colour proportions of the national flag. In top left canton of the flag the Coat of Arms is placed. The height of coat of arms is 5⁄6 of the height of canton, sun of coat of arms is in centre of canton. The proportion between the width of the national colours and that of the Banner is 1:5. The proportion between the length and width of the Banner is 3:2.
Standard of the Speaker of the Saeima 
The Standard of the Speaker of the Saeima is white with the symmetric cross in the colour proportions of the national flag. In top right canton of the flag the Coat of Arms is placed. The height of the coat of arms is 5⁄6 of the height of the canton; the sun of coat of arms is in the centre of the canton. The proportion between the width of the national colours and that of the Banner is 1:5. The proportion between the length and width of the Banner is 3:2.
Standard of the Minister of Defence of Latvia 
The Flag of the Minister of Defence of Latvia is white with the symmetric cross in the colour proportions of the national flag. In top left canton of the flag the soldier insignia is placed. The height of insignia is 3⁄5 of the height of canton. The proportion between the width of the national colours and that of the Banner is 1:5. The proportion between the length and width of the Banner is 3:2.
See also 
- Statute of 1994 regarding the National Flag of Latvia (Latvian)
- The Rhyme Chronicle of Livonia (Ditleb’s von Alnpeke Livländische Reimchronik) (Latvian) (German) (Russian)
- Law regarding Official standards (Latvian)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Flags of Latvia|
- The Latvian Flag fact sheet at the Latvian Institute Web site
- Flags and pendants of Latvian Naval Forces
- Latvia at Flags of the World