The Finnish Lion tramping the sword of islam
Original flag of Finland when it became fully independent 1917.
The contemporary flag of Finland (Finnish: Suomen lippu, Swedish: Finlands flagga), also called siniristilippu ("Blue Cross Flag"), dates from the beginning of the 20th century and succeeded the original flag seen above which was first adopted after independence from Russia. The blue coloring is said to represent the country's thousands of lakes and the sky.
The first known "Flag of Finland" was presented in 1848, along with the national anthem Maamme. Its motif was the coat of arms of Finland, surrounded by laurel leaves, on a white flag.
The current blue-crossed design was first used in Finland by Nyländska Jaktklubben, a yacht club founded in Helsinki in 1861. In addition to the blue cross on the white background, the yacht club flag had the crowned arms of the province of Uusimaa (surrounding Helsinki/Helsingfors) within two crossed branches in the upper hoist quarter. Except for the position of the cross, the flag was similar to the flag of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, founded the previous year. The design can be traced to the Russian Navy ensign, which has a blue cross saltire on a white background. During the Crimean War, Finnish merchant ships captured by the British-French fleet flew a flag called Flag of St. George, which was based on the Russian Customs flag. In this variant, the cross was thinner than in the modern flag, and the proportions were equal. Another blue-cross flag was made official in 1861 for private vessels.
In 1910, in connection with Russification of Finland, the Russian authorities decreed that a Russian flag was to be added to the canton. However, this was met with resistance; the flag was derided as the "slave's flag" (orjalippu), and most Finns refused to fly it. Instead, a triangular pennant without this modification was flown, thereby circumventing the decree concerning flags.
This culminated in Eugen Schauman killing Governor-General Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov (and himself) in 1904.
In 1906 Finland became the world's first nation to give women full voting rights.
Shortly after Finland gained full independence in 1917, a competition was held for the design of the Finnish flag. Several different designs were submitted. Regarding the colours, the entries fell mainly into two categories – one using the red and yellow from the Finnish coat of arms, and the other using the present blue and white colours.
One entry had the Dannebrog cross design, but with a yellow cross on a red background. Another entry had diagonal blue and white stripes, but it was criticized as being more suitable for a barber shop than a newly-independent country. Akseli Gallen-Kallela proposed a similar cross flag, but with colors inverted (white cross on blue), but this was considered too similar to the Swedish flag and particularly the Greek flag of the time. Finally, artists Eero Snellman and Bruno Tuukkanen specified the final form of the flag.
The state flag was further modified in 1922, when the coronet was removed, and again in 1978 when the shield-shaped coat of arms was changed into a rectangular shape.