Schützenmuseum Bern. Photo:

The Swiss Flag

The flag of Switzerland consists of a red flag with a white cross in the centre. The dimensions of the cross were formally established in 1889, when the flag became the national flag (adopted in the Constitution on December 12, 1889).

The use of the white cross was a military ensign until that date. The white cross was used by the Swiss confederation of sovereign cantons in the 14th century and first attested in the Battle of Laupen (1339), contrasting with the red cross of Habsburg Austria, and ensigns of other military adversaries.

The cantonal flag of Schwyz had a red background, and this may have been the origin of the present Swiss flag. After the French invasion of 1798, the authorities replaced the cantonal flags with one green-red-yellow tricolour, but the white cross in the red field was reintroduced as a coat of arms of the confederal army in 1814. The flag was finally introduced as the national flag in 1889.