For our very last article in the Animated ccTLDflags series (a.k.a Virtual Vexillology), you will have the opportunity to see the flags we have featured in the previous articles altogether in one place, along with some examples made for forum users who wish to decline their country of origin when creating their signatures.
It has been a fun and enjoyable series to work on, and it does seem a bit sad to be finally drawing it to a close. This series may be wrapping up, but we are going to do it in true fluttering style. Here are all the flags in alphabetical order of top-level domain. Feast your eyes and enjoy.
P.S. At some point in the future, the Hancki flag icons plus some even smaller flag icons originally from ‘FamFamFam‘ , a website run by British graphic designer and developer Mark James and other sources too, will be added as a page on this blog’s sideline website, HEM Graphics. Don’t click the browser window…or touch the dial!.
A small inspiration for me writing and researching for this series is that at work we often work with ISO codes (which are broadly similar to ccTLDs) when processing data and so it was interesting to see more exciting examples of these shortened country names in use. Sadly since these flags first burst onto the scene in 2008, forums have lost a bit of popularity as social media has become the new outlet for people to air their voices, and the forums that are still be updated now tend to go for the minimalist look, dispensing with embellishments like signature GIFs, userbars, stats and of course these flags. In a way, this is my way of preserving this piece of internet history for the future, should forums no longer use them.
Our final leg of the journey in this series on animated flag icons featuring ccTLDs now takes in the continent of Australasia, also known as Oceania. While this continent’s total area is very dominated by the landmass and Commonwealth of Australia, it also has a large number of small islands dotted over the breadth and length of the Pacific Ocean. Many of these islands are their own sovereign states, while others are dependencies of larger Australasian nations.
As far as flags go, one common theme with flags from Australasia is that a lot of them carry a smaller flag in their cantons (top left-hand corners of the flag). This is the Union Flag (Union Jack) of Great Britain. The reason for this is simply that many of these countries were at one point part of the British Empire until the latter half of the past century, and it was standard for British colonies to carry an ‘ensign’ which included the UK national flag. After independence, many did away with the colonial flags, but some, like Australia and its southerly neighbour, New Zealand, retained them for cultural and political reasons.
While we are on the subject of ccTLDs, did you know that the domain registries of several Pacific countries allow their ccTLDs to be used for commercial purposes by companies which may have nothing whatsoever to do with the country that the TLD is related with.
.tv is the ccTLD for the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. It also is very much like the acronym for television (TV). As a result, several media companies have adopted the .tv domain for their websites, usually ones rich in video content. The .tv domain is owned by a private company, dotTV (Verisign) based in the United States. The Tuvaluan government owns a 20 per cent stake and makes US$1 million in royalties annually of the back of renting out their TLD. The neighbouring island of Niue has also turned its .nu domain into a moneyspinner as well. This was one of the first such domains to be auctioned out for marketing purposes as an alternative to the bog-standard .com, .net and .org trinity. The domain sounds similar to the English word ‘new’ as well as in other European language versions of that word, and has been particularly popular in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, as nu is the word for “now” in Swedish,Danish and Dutch. Another island nation, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) still uses its old TLD .ws . It is administered by SamoaNIC, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of Samoa. It can also stand for ‘web site’ or ‘world site’ and has been popular with companies looking to expound on their international credentials. All three of these examples from Pacific island registries are known in the web business as ‘domain hacks’.
Bouvet Island is normally considered part of Antarctica, but for the sake of brevity I have included it along with Australasia.
We are very nearly reaching the end of our special series on the flag icons that make ‘virtual vexillology’ a success. Next week, the Half-Eaten Mind plans to bring the flags featured in this series, plus a few extra others that were excluded for not being country-specific, together into one article in the form of a gallery. There will need to be some groundwork to see if it is possible to create such a gallery from the flags already uploaded to the Mind’s image gallery, but we are hopeful of success.
This article was mainly prepared at the HEM home office in Plaistow, with some writing and formatting work done at Informa in Maple House, Euston, London. Some of the work adding links to Australasian government websites was also undertaken at Maple House.
Asia is one of the most linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse continents on the planet. Its kaleidoscope of nations and cultures is well reflected in its range of flags.
Just like Africa and South America, which we explored earlier on in the Animated ccTLD Flags series, Asia was once part of foreign empires, but is also home to many countries which escaped colonialism and have a long and vibrant history.
Asia is home to a wide variety of alphabets and writing systems, which makes it an interesting point to note in what comes next. While the first set of ccTLDs which became current from the 1980s onwards (and featured in our series) were rendered solely in the Roman alphabet, the advances in internet and computing technologies mean that such domains are no longer restricted only to Western-style letters.
In October 2009, at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea, the organisation in charge of TLDs, ICANN, announced a plan to extend the range of alphabets enabled for use in domains and URLs from the old American influenced system of writing ‘root zones’ in Latin characters. At this critical meeting, ICANN representatives tabled a motion to introduce the ‘Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)’ which would enable people using other scripts to use the Web in those scripts, thus ending the discrimination of the current state web in favour of those using languages written in the Roman alphabet. The new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program, approved at the ICANN meeting in Singapore in June 2011, paved the way for countries using other scripts to create their own TLDs in their own writing.
By May 2010, the first such internationalised codes were implemented for Arabic, applying to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Russia followed soon after. According to ICANN, Arabic was chosen for the initial rollout because it is one of the most widely used non-Latin languages on the Internet. Languages in India and much of South Asia were then catered for. As of December 2014 there are 45 approved internationalized country code top-level domains. The most used are .рф (Russia) with over 900,000 domains names, .台灣(Taiwan) with around 500,000 and .中国 (China) with over 200,000 domains.
A comprehensive list of IccTLDs published by Wikipedia.
The oldest flag-like object ever found, according to one source, was a metal square sheet mounted on a copper pole. Dating to the third millennium BC (BCE) it was uncovered in an archaeological site near Shahdad in Iran. Depicting depicts two figures facing one another on a rich background of animals, plants, and goddesses, the vexilloid is still a mystery as to what purpose it served or who created it.
Asia is also home to the world’s only pennant style national flag, that of Nepal. Nepal adopted this unique flag with its crescent moon and sun design in 1962, and the deep red is said to reflect the hue of the rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower.
Next weekend, we’ll be completing the final leg of our world ccTLD tour by visiting Australia, New Zealand and a panoply of beautiful ‘South Sea’ islands as we move southwards to Australasia, otherwise known as Oceania. This will be our second to last article in the series, and the very final blogpost will bring all of the flags together as a reference, possibly to be arranged in alphabetical order.
A continent of colour, vibrancy, determination and contrasts, Africa is often in the news for the wrong reasons, but there is far more to it than the media diet of armed revolutions, wars, poverty and famine. Africa is a place where art has always been close to the hearts of its people, from the cave paintings of the Algerian desert, the Egyptian hieroglyphics, or the masks of the Ashanti Empire or the kingdom of Benin.
Africa’s flags are no exception. Once carved up by colonial powers greedy for natural resources, many African countries seized their independence and freedom during the 20th century. The birth of so many independent nations gave rise to a plethora of flags with meanings of struggles of the past and hopes for the future. It is here where we find a common theme, the Pan African colours. Influenced by the flag of Ethiopia, at one time Africa’s only country not colonised by people from abroad, the colours of red, green and yellow (yellow sometimes replaced with black) were adopted by countries as far apart as Malawi and Ghana as Africans took their place among the stage of free nations. The first African state to adopt a red, gold and green flag upon independence was Ghana in 1957. The other set of Pan African colours was influenced by the UNIA led by accomplished statesman Marcus Garvey in around 1920.
It is this continent that has given us some of the world’s brightest, most expressive and meaning-rich flags. The author of this article also has a connection with Africa. His mother hails from the Indian Oceanisland of Mauritius, a nation with a flag of four colours.
Internet penetration is relatively low-key in Africa but nearly all African territories still have their own ccTLDs. One of the largest markets for mobile phones (with or without internet access) in the world is Somalia, and Google maintains servers in Kenya and Mauritius.
Please note: South Sudan, Western Sahara, the de facto republics in Somalia, one of the Congos and Ascension Island could not be found for this article. The Libyan flag is the old one of the Libyan Arab Jamhiriyyah of Pres. Muammar Gaddafi, now no longer in use.
Part Five sees us journeying across the Indian Ocean to visit the continent of Asia. From the virtual land of little waving flags, see you next weekend.
Apologies to everyone for the late showing of the article this Saturday. This is in fact the first posted from my new laptop, a Toshiba C50-B-189 Satellite, which I only picked up this morning from the Argos store in Broadway, Stratford. My previous laptop, also a Toshiba Satellite, finally ‘handed in its notice’ after four years’ loyal service to myself and the Half-Eaten Mind. Indeed I established the blog as well as its associated sites on that very laptop, a C660 model. But now that baby has flown the nest to the great laptop scrapheap.
Part 3 of the Half-Eaten Mind’s series on animated ccTLDflags now arrives on the shores of Europe, a linguistically and historically diverse continent with a rich history of flags too. Many of Europe’s flags have religious and heraldric meanings, as it was in this continent that such devices as coats-of-arms and banners for military use were developed.
The world’s oldest flag design still in continuous use is the “Dannebrog“, the national flag of the kingdom of Denmark. This Christian inspired flag, featuring a white long-armed cross on a red field has a pedigree of several hundred years, and took its present form design in 1625. The world’s only square national flag is found here, representing Switzerland.
Europe also has a much smaller claim to fame. It is the continent where the Half-Eaten Mind operates from.
We bring you the waving flags of the European continent, including a nod to one of the most impressive projects of intra-national unity and co-operation in recent history – the European Union. You may notice that the flags for Jersey and Guernsey look different from the others. I was unable to find the TLD flags for the two Channel Islands so made do with close alternatives from one the websites I extracted some of the flags from. This also applies to the other crown dependency of the Isle of Man.
Interestingly enough, on an Arabic language forum, I came across two strange examples, one with a Scottish flag but the TLD for Spain (.es) (some sources attribute the flag to Tenerife island in the Canaries, which would explain the .es tag) and a blank ‘white flag’ with no text. On the Maple Royals forum, for players of the MapleStory online game, I came across a user whose forum signature had a previously undiscovered forum flag for the province of Friesland (Frisia or Fryslan) in the Netherlands. Its distinctive flag of red hearts and blue diagonal stripes on a white field soon found a home in my collection. It appears to have been made by someone influenced by the original designer and is not one of the original set of flags that at the end of the last decade.
During further research, I found forum postings from 2008 on Xenforo, another forum development platform, where a user named SchmitzIT made available some attachments for downloading of these GIFs, alongside instructions on how to power them up for your own forum. He attributed these flags to a web graphic designer with the tag name ‘Cobro’, who was working with VBulletin, another popular provider of forum software solutions. Sadly, despite registering for the site, I was unable to get access to the downloads. The user had also made available a single sample of the flags, that one being for the U.S.A.
Part Two of our Animated ccTLD flags takes us to the other, hotter half of the Americas, namely South America. With the exception of a few nations, this continent is predominately Spanish speaking, and many of the flags shown here date from the independence of these countries from Spain during the 18th and 19th centuries.
As before, the countries and their flag icons will be listed in alphabetical order of TLD.
ccTLDs are based on a system developed by internet institution ICANN. The ICANN is a global forum in charge of managing some of the Net’s core technical elements, such as the domain-name system. Individual two-digit ccTLDs are managed by different organisations or statutory bodies, known as ‘country-code managers’. You can see a list of which managers run which ccTLDs at this link.
For every country, and indeed many various territories, dependencies, states, provinces etc. one of the most important elements of self-representation, self-recognition and identity is a humble piece of cloth. The flag, for governments and patriots alike, is more than that though. It is a symbol of their identity, replete with symbolism, sacrifice and values. Many flags have become well-known enough that even the most geographically challenged can match the national flag to the nation it flies under. Everyone knows the Union Flag (Union Jack) is for Britain, the Tricouleur represents France, and the Star-Spangled Banner flutters over the States.
A few years ago, one enterprising graphic designer decided to make full use of the internet’s awesome superpowers and marry the thousand-year old tradition of the flag with a very recent innovation – the top-level domain – to produce a set of virtual animated flags.
A top-level domain is essentially a part of a website’s address, or URL, which identifies a website’s host origin or its function. For example, .com means that the site is engaged in commerce (usually), while .ac (or .edu in the US) means an educational institution.
Top-level domains with a regional flavour are used to represent the hosting nation of a website where that site would be registered. For example, .uk would be for a site registered in the United Kingdom, while a site URL ending in .mu means that the site is based on a Mauritian server.
These regional domains are officially known as ccTLDs (country code top-level domains). They are generally used or reserved for a country, a sovereign state, or a dependent territory. They are always two letters long and usually are formed from letters in the country’s name, though not always the one in English. While .us is for the United States and .in is for India, Algeria’sccTLD is .dz (Al-Djazair) and Switzerland’s one is .ch (for its full Latin name, Confœrderatio Helvetica).
The first registered ccTLDs to come into service were .us, .uk, and .il, all registered in 1985. In 1986, .au, .de, .fi, .fr, .jp, .kr, .nl and .se were registered. This was long before the Internet as we now it even came into being.
The story behind these animated flags is shrouded in the depths of mystery. The only solid lead I could find from my research was on a forum post from Forumotion, a company which offers forum setup and development services. A member of Forumotion’s staff, nicknamed Hancki, who also moonlighted there as a forum helper, started a thread in which he/she showed off some animated flags they had allegedly made. They made no comment on how or even if they did create the ccTLD flag GIFs but the other forum participants loved them and thought they were great.
That first selection of little waving flags appeared in April of 2010, and since then have become hot property for forum lovers and gamers looking to add some patriotic sparkle to their signatures. Numerous forum owners from Pakistan to the States have snapped them up, and now for the first time, the Half-Eaten Mind has brought them together in one place, free for use to represent your homeland.
With the help of a list of ccTLDs provided by Wikipedia and another source, I found other forums that had these distinctive animated flags, and by changing the part of the forum’s URL with the country name or ccTLD, was able to collect a flag of nearly every country and territory on Earth. It was just like FlagCounter, only with more fluttering.
To celebrate the amazing design of these flags, the Half-Eaten Mind is producing a special series of articles showcasing the flags of the world’s nations, with their relevant ccTLD. Due to the size of the project, I will be covering a different part of the world every weekend, with links to previous articles in the series. Part One will cover the continent of North America. This geographical region includes Central America and the Caribbean. I will then work my way eastwards and southwards.
Below each set of flags, arranged vertically in the page’s centre due to WordPress’ horrifically fiddly HTML editor, are a list of the featured countries, alphabetically by their ccTLD. Each country name has a link to its government’s website or the nearest equivalent.
Some flags, such as that of Libya are out of date. Some newer countries, such as South Sudan and some dependencies are also absent. There are also some flags of now defunct countries, such as Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, that were issued ccTLDs in the Eighties and early Nineties, which I have also included.
By the way, vexillology is the study of flags, their designs, meanings and history.
The season of new beginnings, spring flowers and chocolate eggs returns upon us again. As the days get longer, the temperature picks up (sort of) and the Cadbury’s Creme Eggs come out of hibernation, Easter is now here.
OK, well the weather hasn’t been that great. Some sunshine yes, but also rain, combined with mad and roaring winds like you wouldn’t believe. In Northolt, north west London, wind speeds there on the last day of April reached 60 mph. It’s calmed down a lot though now. The streets around my neighbourhood have practically been blasted clean.
This Easter, the Half-Eaten Mind brings you (or should that be ‘springs at you’) our great gallery of Easter-themed GIFs for 2015. From me to all of you, I wish you a very Happy Easter!!!
What will you all be doing at Easter?
Awake, thou wintry earth – Fling off thy sadness! Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth Your ancient gladness! ~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hymn”
With only a week and a half to go until old Saint Nick squeezes down our chimneys with his big bag of goodies, the Half-Eaten Mind once again brings you a special edition wallpaper and a selection of festive animated images to outshine any Christmas tree.
A good time is coming, I wish it were here, The very best time in the whole of the year; I’m counting each day on my fingers and thumbs – the weeks that must pass before Santa Claus comes.
Then when the first snowflakes begin to come down, And the wind whistles sharp and the branches turn brown, I’ll not mind the cold, though my fingers it numbs, For it brings the time nearer when Santa Claus comes.
While I’ve outgrown the whole Santa Claus thing, having seen my Mum come home too many times with bags of presents from Primark and Argos; and the house where I now live has no fireplace and chimney for Santa to fall through, and brandy and cookies are so extortionate in price I’d be broke before I’d even bought the Christmas cards, the legend of the bearded one in the red cardigan is still a very magical one, especially for the kids.
The HEM wallpaper for Christmas 2014 pays homage to the chubby old dude with the reindeer-driven sleigh and the cheery “ho ho ho“, by showing him at what he does best, squeezing his ample frame down chimney stacks.
I used a pre-made Christmas wallpaper from the HD Wallpapers site. This cheery and wintry wallpaper with Santa and his cute reindeer buddies was produced by Zanetine Web Design http://zanetine.com/ who mainly specialise in website building for commercial clients and are based in Amritsar, in the Punjab state of India. I then worked my Christmassy creative magic by uploading the original to the piZap image production site and added a few snowy effects and a reindeer bringing gifts for boys and girls good as gold. Add to that some blog branding with a Yuletide touch and within half-an-hour I was done and dusted. I’m sure Santa will give me an extra prezzie this Xmas just for this adorable wallpaper. Let me know what you think in the comments!!
You’ll be seeing this wallpaper as the official background of the Half-Eaten Mind up until our New Years‘ special shortly before the end of the Christmas break. It will also take pride of place on the HEM Twitter and Facebook pages too, so however you interact with the Half-Eaten Mind, we’ll be spreading some special Christmas cheer as Santa makes his way doing the same on a far grander scale through the night skies.
From myself at the Half-Eaten Mind, I would like to wish of you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas, full of joy, happiness, excitement….and mince pies!
Taken from various free animated image sites, HEM has brought you a healthy mix of the funny, sparkly and traditional, including many vintage examples from the early days of the popular internet (2000’s onwards). Hope you enjoy them, and of course they are free to borrow for your own use. After all, Christmas is about sharing!!