Cartographic Vexillology of Subnational Flags in North America


National University of Singapore, SINGAPORE


Cartographic Vexillology, Teaching with Flags, North America, Theme of Location, Education Standards ,


Maps are present in flags as part of their design and are more common in subnational flags. This study analyzed 4,804 subnational flags in North America – the continent with the most flags with maps – to identify if maps are incorporated, the area the maps represented and the presence of the theme of location. The theme of location is one of the Five Themes of geography established in 1984 to aid geography education. It provides a conceptual base to teach geography and geographic concepts. Of the total number of subnational flags studied, 9% (429) have a map on them. Most of the flags were observed in the United States due to the large number of political subdivisions and subnational flags. Of this, 24% (105 of 429) incorporate the theme of location. Most of the flags with this theme are from the United States and from second level political subdivisions. With this information, educators are encouraged to engage students in critical thinking activities that promote flag, map and location knowledge. Activities can focus on the map itself or the combination of flags and maps.