Would you like to have more money? Sure, why not! Well, the best way to make money is to win bets. And a great way to win bets is to memorize the flag of every country in the world. Here’s how it works:
1. Find some sucker. Bet him your car that you can identify the flag of every country in the world.
2. When he shows you a flag, give the wrong answer. Don’t even guess the name of a country. Say, “Obviously that’s the flag of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.”
3. Hand over the keys to your car. Now this guy owns your car. So far, so good!
4. Now say, “You’ve got to give me a chance to win my car back.” Offer to bet your house against his.
5. This time, (and this part is really important) give the correct answer. And add, “Oh I was hustling you on that first one. That was the Canadian flag. Haha, sucker! Let’s see those house keys!”
6. Evict his family.
But wait—what if you don’t know every national flag? Well, that’s easy! It just so happens that we have invented a foolproof system for recognizing flags by dividing them into discrete categories, such as “Flags with a Union Jack,” “Flags that are weird shapes,” and “Flags with a dragon on them.” Below is the first installment, and we will be coming out with more, depending on how many clicks this one gets.
(Do NOT share this page on social media. It will be harder to work the flag con on your friends if they, too, learn all the flags.)
FLAGS WITH A UNION JACK
This flag is known as the “Union Jack.” If you look closely, you’ll see that it is not symmetrical. On the left-hand side there is more white space above the red diagonals. This is how you can spot counterfeit Union Jacks, whenever you’re doing a little vigilante work at the mall’s flag kiosk.
The constellation on the Australian flag is called the “Southern Cross,” and it always points South. This is helpful if you become lost at sea and begin to starve, because you can just find the Southern Cross, head south until you reach Antarctica, and eat a penguin.
New Zealand’s flag looks almost exactly like Australia’s, except that it has four stars instead of six. The four stars represent the four New Zealand stars: The two guys from Flight of the Conchords, Russell Crowe (!), and Lucy Lawless (!?!)!
The Fijian flag is easy to remember because it is the only flag to depict both a Union Jack AND the coat of arms of Fiji. (Hopefully you have already taken the time to memorize every country’s coat of arms.)
The stars on Tuvalu’s flag represent the nine islands that comprise the archipelago nation. So if you ever attempt a solo kayak between all nine islands, there’s no need to bring a map! Just bring the flag of Tuvalu and maybe some bottled water.
SCANDINAVIAN FLAGS WITH A BIG SIDEWAYS CROSS
Denmark’s flag is almost all red, because (as depicted in the animated film Beowulf) the Danes are a bloodthirsty people. It’s not enough for them to kill their enemy…they also come after his mom. His mom! 🙁
Sweden’s flag is blue and yellow, same as the Ikea flag. That’s because Ikea was a Swedish company until it shifted the bulk of its operations to the Netherlands so it could dodge Swedish taxes. And this is why you know so many Swedish words! Like the word for bookcase (“billy”), big bookcase (“kallax”), meatball (“meatball”), and so forth.
Finland’s flag is mainly white, to reflect how cold and snowy Finland is. If you’re trying to remember which flag this is, just ask yourself, “Which Scandinavian country is cold and snowy?” The answer is Finland!
Norway’s flag is red, white and blue, just like the American flag. And just like America, Norway is has huge amounts of oil under the ground. And just like America, Norway’s government has wisely used its natural resources to create a massive, trillion dollar public fund that ensures a stable income for its aging population.
Uh oh, the Icelandic flag is red, white, and blue, too! Well, let’s see…Iceland has a lot of active volcanoes, so just imagine that it depicts Iceland from above, as a volcano erupts and spills rivers of lava across the frigid landscape in perfectly straight lines.
And the straight lines don’t make any sense, since straight lines don’t happen in nature, and that’s when you realize that Iceland is actually an enormous, ancient, crashed spacecraft, locked beneath the ice. And that is how global warming will get us. It’s never what you expect!
FLAGS WITH A DRAGON ON THEM
If the dragon is being stabbed by a knight, it’s the flag of Malta. Here is a close-up, because Malta played it cool and made the dragon really small.
The knight is St. George, and generally speaking Catholic saints like St. George are a bigger deal in Mediterranean countries than Himalayan ones. (And Malta is in the Mediterranean, as you well know.)
If the dragon is not being stabbed by a knight, then the dragon is Druk, the Thunder Dragon, and you’re looking at the flag of “The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon,” more boringly known as Bhutan. No knights are depicted on this flag because they have already been eaten by Druk.
LAZY FLAGS THAT ARE JUST A RED, WHITE, AND BLUE STRIPE
Of the four countries whose flags have a red, white and blue stripe, France is the only one whose stripes are vertical.
- Stripes Are Vertical.
- Savoir faire is a phrase you’ve heard before.
- You’re pretty sure it’s a French phrase.
- They speak French in France.
The Dutch flag looks almost exactly like the flag of Luxembourg. If you see a flag with horizontal stripes that are ordered red, white, blue from top to bottom, one way to tell whether it’s the Dutch or Luxembourgeois flag is to know that you are never going to see the Luxembourgois flag in real life. It’s the Dutch flag.
(Also, the blue on the Dutch flag is a little darker, presumably because Holland has a much larger economy and can afford more flag dye.)
The Russian flag is the only red, white, and blue-striped flag with blue in the middle. And “blue in the middle” is how you might be feeling lately about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. But just as the Russian flag has a red stripe beneath the blue, your blues have are underlaid by a seething red that makes you eager and anxious to vote this fall. (You are registered to vote, right? Maybe you should go check right now! We’ll wait.)
You’re probably saying “Wait, you said I’d never see the Luxembourgeois flag in real life,” and it’s true that we did say that. That is just one of many clues that the internet is not real life.
FLAGS THAT ARE WEIRD SHAPES
Yes, “square” is a weird shape, if you’re talking about flags.* Only two countries have square flags: Switzerland, and Vatican City. Try to guess whether this flag is from Switzerland or Vatican City. (One clue is that they don’t know how to draw a Christian cross properly.)
*Let us know if you think we should start a podcast called “Talking About Flags” where we talk about flags.
Now that said, it’s kind of weird that Vatican City’s flag doesn’t have any giant crosses. I am no branding expert, but this feels like a missed opportunity.
(Fun fact: The hat on the flag is called a “papal tiara.” And this is what the Pope would look like if he were a giant pair of keys!)
Nepal has the only flag in the shape of two triangles, and the triangles represent the Himalayas.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten that over with, check this out: Those moon and sun symbols used to have faces. But in 1962, Nepal erased them from the flag…to modernize it! What? Are faces not modern? The moral of the story is don’t go to Nepal because apparently they love erasing faces in pursuit of some nightmarish, dystopian modernity where there are no faces.