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What are south vietnamese colors?

The colors of the flag of South Vietnam hold historical significance and represent the ideals of the nation. In this article, we will explore the meanings behind the yellow and red stripes of the South Vietnamese flag.

Background on the Flag of South Vietnam

The flag of South Vietnam was adopted in 1948 following the country’s independence from French rule. The flag features three horizontal stripes – yellow, red and yellow. The yellow represents prosperity and the red stands for the bloodshed during the nation’s struggles for freedom and independence.

The origins of the flag design trace back to Emperor Gia Long in the early 19th century. He adopted a yellow flag with a red flame in the center as the banner for his Nguyễn Dynasty. This color scheme of yellow and red eventually made its way onto the national flag.

The Meaning of the Yellow Stripes

The two yellow stripes on the South Vietnamese flag represent prosperity, wealth, and happiness. Yellow is seen as a bright, optimistic color and fitted the hopeful vision for the newly independent country. Specifically, the yellow symbolizes:

  • Agricultural prosperity – Vietnam has a long history as an agrarian society and the fertile land is central to the country’s prosperity.
  • Mineral wealth – Vietnam has reserves of minerals like coal, phosphates, rare earth metals, and oil and gas offshore.
  • Bright future – The yellow represents the brightness of Vietnam’s future as an independent nation.
  • Buddhism – In Buddhism, which has strongly influenced Vietnamese culture, yellow represents joy and optimism.

Yellow dyes were also historically more accessible for the common people of Vietnam, making it a suitable shade for a national flag.

The Meaning of the Red Stripe

The single red stripe on the South Vietnamese flag represents the bloodshed and sacrifices made by the Vietnamese people during their struggles for liberty. Red signifies:

  • The blood of Vietnamese heroes who died fighting for independence from colonial rule.
  • The vitality, bravery, and resolve of the Vietnamese people.
  • The nationalist spirit of the nation and commitment to self-determination.

The red stripe serves as a reminder of the patriots who gave their lives for Vietnam’s freedom and independence throughout history in conflicts with China, France, Japan, America, and others. The blood red color makes their sacrifice vivid.

Use of the Colors in South Vietnamese Culture

Beyond the flag, yellow and red hold cultural significance in Vietnamese traditions:

  • Yellow is connected with royalty, and imperial cities like Huế were decorated yellow.
  • Red is associated with good fortune and is often seen at Vietnamese weddings, New Year celebrations, and religious holidays.
  • Yellow peach blossoms and red poinsettia flowers have cultural importance.
  • Traditional ao dai dresses come in vibrant yellows and reds.
  • Red is the color of communist and socialist revolutionary groups like the Viet Minh and Viet Cong.

The Demise of South Vietnam

In 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to communist North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front forces. The capital Saigon fell, marking the end of the Vietnam War. South Vietnam was dissolved and integrated into the communist Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The yellow and red striped South Vietnamese flag was replaced by the all red flag of North Vietnam, symbolizing communist victory. However, for Vietnamese Americans and anti-communist expatriates, the yellow and red flag remains an important symbol of the ideals of the former Republic of Vietnam.

The Legacy of the Colors Today

Although no longer an official national flag, the yellow and red banner of South Vietnam remains meaningful for Vietnamese communities worldwide as a symbol of:

  • Opposition to communism
  • Nostalgia for the former South Vietnam
  • Hope for a democratic and independent Vietnam

It is still used by expatriate groups like the Vietnamese Constitutional Monarchist League and flies at commemorations of the fallen South Vietnamese soldiers. The colors represent an alternative vision for Vietnamese society that lives on.


The yellow and red stripes of the South Vietnamese flag encapsulate the nation’s values, culture, and history. The prosperous yellow represents Vietnam’s potential and the communist red recalls the blood spilled for independence. Though short-lived, the flag remains an enduring symbol of Vietnamese nationalism and identity.

Color Meaning
Yellow Prosperity, wealth, agriculture, Buddhism, optimism
Red Bloodshed of heroes, bravery, vitality, nationalism