Most flags represent some national, cultural, or organizational identity. They are used at military functions, at historical and sporting events, as a means of advertising, and even for communication purposes. Flags have been redesigned from time to time as borders and regimes, or even corporation names, have changed. This Flags Portfolio features a series of national flags waving.
The term flag includes streamers, banners, ensigns, and pendants. Flags come in various designs and shapes, but they are all made of flexible material. The ideal fabric is lightweight, washable, and resists fire, mildew, sun, and dirt damage. When attached on one side, flags wave in the breeze.
Outdoor flags are flown on flagpoles; an indoor flag is often displayed with a staff in a floor stand or projected at an angle from a wall. Outdoor flags are finished with a heading and grommets; indoor and parade flags generally have tabs and fringes.
The designs and emblems on a flag often associate it with a flag family. For example, the Scandinavian country flags have a Scandinavian cross; former British colonies use the national British flag in the canton of their flags; and some Muslim countries include a crescent moon on their national flags.
Each country adopts its own rules of flag etiquette. Diplomatic protocol may be affected by these rules; the rules may differ when a flag is used within the country rather than internationally. Most countries require their national flag to lead in a procession, and it should always be used in a dignified manner.