The Flag of Mexico (in Spanish: Bandera de México) is a vertical Tricolour of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country’s War of Independence. The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821, when the First National Flag was created. The current law of national symbols, Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984.
At the time of the flag’s adoption, the Italian tricolor was not in use: the flag now contains the coat of arms, in order to distinguish it from that of Italy. Red, white, and green are the colors of the national liberation army in Mexico. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the center of their empire. It recalls the legend that inspired the Aztecs to settle on what was originally a lake-island. The form of the coat of arms was most recently revised in 1968. Aztec legend held that they should found their city on the spot where they saw an eagle on a nopal, eating a snake. Ribbon in the national colors are at the bottom of the coat of arms. Throughout history, the flag has changed 4 times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified. However, the coat of arms has had the same features throughout: an eagle, holding a serpent in its talon, is perched on top of a prickly pear cactus; the cactus is situated on a rock that rises above a lake. The coat of arms is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle and a serpent, which is now Mexico City. The current national flag, the Fourth National Flag, is also used as the Mexican naval ensign by ships registered in Mexico.
Before the adoption of the first national flag, various flags used during the War of Independence from Spain had a great influence on the design of the first national flag. It was never adopted as an official flag, But many historians consider the first Mexican flag to be the Standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was carried by Miguel Hidalgo during the Grito de Dolores on September 16, 1810. The Standard became the initial symbol of the rebel army during the Mexican War of Independence. Various other Standards were used during the war. José María Morelos used a flag with and image of the Virgin to which was added a blue and white insignia with a crowned eagle on a cactus over a three-arched bridge and the letters V.V.M. (Viva la Virgen María – “long live the Virgin Mary”). The Revolutionary Army also used a flag featuring the colors white, blue and red in vertical stripes. The first use of the actual colors—green, white and red—was in the flag of the unified Army of the Three Guarantees (pictured above) after independence from Spain was won.