The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games are now under way, with athletes from all over the world converging on the South Korean county to vie for the greatest achievements of their sporting careers.

The great thing about the Olympics is that it puts a spotlight on those nations that you rarely (or never) see in the news, and exposes the average person to world’s wonderful array of national flags. Whether they are borne proudly by athletes in the Parade of Nations, waved enthusiastically by the crowds, incorporated into the athletes’ uniforms, hoisted in the medal ceremonies or used to punctuate broadcast graphics, flags are significant part of the spectacle that is the Olympic Games.

Croatian flagbearer Natko Zrnčić-Dim leads out his national team in the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Croatian flagbearer Natko Zrnčić-Dim leads out his national team in the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

They are rousing objects that tell each country’s story and trigger all kinds of emotions that are rooted in patriotism and nationalism. Fundamentally, though, flags are pieces of graphic design that use shape, colour and symbolism to communicate ideas.

Ferdio, a Danish design agency specialising in infographics, has taken on the mammoth task of analysing the designs of national flags to discover the hidden stories behind their graphics. They have wrung out all the data they could possibly gather from all the flags in the world, dumped it in a spreadsheet and started digging. Their findings are presented in Flag Stories, a series of infographics that reveal some fun and quirky facts and comparisons.

“Dominating flag layouts”, an infographic from the Flag Stories project

“Sure, there are a lot of books and websites covering the different aspects of flags like history, demography and culture, through heavy text, but we wanted to add new aspects to this field by only looking at the graphics and telling the story visually,” says Jeppe Morgenstjerne, Creative Director at Ferdio. By comparing the data of layouts, colours, similarities, symbolism and proportions, they uncover interesting information like, the most common symbol per continent and the most popular colour. It’s a fascinating project, and one that will continue to be updated as the Ferdio team uncover new stories. Sheldon Cooper would approve.

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Flag Stories