of Bois Caraibe (Sabinea Carinalis)
symbol which has begun to sink beneath the level of the
consciousness in the mind of Dominicans is the Dominica National
Flag. The meaning of our flag is easier to understand than the Coat
of Arms as the design did not have to confirm to the meticulously
exact standards of heraldry.
Every country has a national flag which is seen as the prime
expression of national identity and the supreme mark of
independence. We proudly witnessed this at midnight on 2nd
November,1978, when our National Flag was hoisted to the strains of
our National Anthem, “Isle of Beauty”.
the stroke of the midnight hour chiming in our Independence, our
National Flag was unfurled for the first time, ushering in the dawn
of a new era. Immediately before this Union Jack and our Associate
Statehood Flag were lowered, reverently and with dignity, closing
another chapter of our history.
Dominica National Flag is the proudest emblem of our country. It is
the sing by which we are known to all the world; a new star set in
the heavens joining its sister stars in that constellation which
gleams upon the Free Nations of the earth. It is our People’s
Flag; the flag appointed by Destiny to fly over our land, hopefully,
into eternity. This is the Flag to which we pay homage from the 3rd
November, 1978 onward.
National Flag is expected to be held in reverence by the citizens of
a country. It is therefore, our duty to ensure that our Flag be
accorded the honour and respect due to it, that it is not subjected
to any form of indignity or humiliation.
Edward Hansley, put it this way: “It is not so much the flag
itself that stirs our souls as the deeds that were done beneath
it”. This is generally true whether the deeds are those of war or
of peace, or of a nation “rightfully struggling to be free”.
following is the heraldric description of the National Flag of the
Commonwealth of Dominica:
pallets conjoined in pale and as many bars similarly conjoined in
fess or argent and sable overall as a roundel gules charged with
Sisserou (Amazona imperialis) facing sinister perched on a wooden
twig proper within an orle of ten mullets. Also vert.
of the National Flag*:
The flag of the Commonwealth of Dominica consists of a
circular emblem of red bearing a Sisserou parrot (Amazona imperialis)
standing on a twig encircled by ten lime green stars. This is
superimposed on three vertical and three horizontal stripes of
yellow, black and white forming a triple colored cross against a
general background of forest green.
The central emblem presents the National Bird of Dominica,
the Sisserou parrot, also a symbol of flight toward greater heights
and fulfillment of aspiration. The Parrot also comes from the
Dominica Coat of Arms, thus symbolizing the official Seal of the
The ten lime green stars- the traditional symbol of hope
–represent the ten parishes of the country, each with equal
status, thus the equality of our people. The red central emblem
symbolizes Dominica’s commitment to social justice.
The yellow, black and white stripes from a triple colored
cross representing the Trinity of God. The cross itself demonstrates
belief in God since the Commonwealth of Dominica is founded upon the
principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God.
The yellow stripe represents the sunshine of our land, our
main agricultural produce: Citrus and Bananas; and is also a symbol
of the Carib and Arawak people, the first inhabitants of the Island.
The White stripe represents the clarity of our rivers and
waterfalls and the purity of aspiration of our people.
The black stripe represents the rich black soil of our island
on which our agriculture is based as well as our African heritage.
The general background of dark green symbolizes our rich
verdant forest and the general lushness.
Flower, Sabinea Carinalis*:
honoured as our National Flower is a wild xerophitic plant known
botanically as Sabinea carinalis, commonly known as Carib Wood or
‘Bois Caraibe’. It was legislated as the National Flower, along
with the Coat of Arms and National Flag in 1978.(The National
Emblems of Dominica Act, 1978)(Act No.18 of 1978).
an indigenous plant, one of the reasons for which it was selected,
it has survived our entire history, and hopefully, will be with us
for all time. It can therefore be said to represent the continuity
of our young people.
in bloom, it displays precocious bright scarlet flowers along the
entire length of its branches, and is found growing along dry
coastal areas. Distribution in the wild is low, but it is an
extremely hardy plant. When grown at high elevations, even in good
soil, ‘Bois Caraibe’ will be bushy but will not flower
profusely. Around April, when in full bloom, the plant presents a
hardiness and scarlet flowers are reminiscent of our strong rugged
and resourceful people with an ability to survive and overcome
problems, and Dominica’s ability to triumph despite seemingly
The President’s Ensign*:
must also be made to the President’s Ensign which incorporates the
Coat of Arms on a forest green background.
the tradition of independent countries the President, who is also
the Head of the State, is empowered under section 14 of the
President’s Emoluments and Conditions of Officer Act, 1982 (Act
No. 16 of 1982) to use a personal standard.
is important to note that unlike the National Flag, the
President’s Ensign should be flown continuously over a building
day and night once the President is in residence. This rule also
applies to the ensign used on the President’s means of transport.
Ensign being a personal standard is never flown at half-mast except
in the event of the death of the President. Should and occasion
demand that a flag be flown at half-mast, at the President’s
residence or office, the National Flag should be used.
the National Flag, there are certain codes of etiquette which apply.
For example, on special days of national significance, the National
Flag should be flown at the President’s Official Residence
together with the President’s Ensign to the left of it, and at the
same height but on separate flagstaffs.
The National Bird, The Sisserou parrot*:
parrot (Amazona imperialis), “The Pride of Dominica”, is
generally recognized as the National Bird of Dominica. The parrot
figures prominently on the Coat of Arms, the National Flag, the
Public Seal, The Mace of the House of Assembly and Dominica’s
Honours for Meritorious Service to the Country.
Sisserou Parrot is protected and it is probably among the oldest
species of Amazon parrot in the world, and is found only in
Dominica. Unfortunately this bird is most vulnerable, particularly
when young, but through evolution, it has adapted to various changes
in its habitat. Even more unfortunately, it has not been able to
adapt to the bad influences of man.
of the Sisserou Parrot*:
The Sisserou Parrot ( Amazonia imperialis) is a shy but very
attractive native of the tropical forest of the Commonwealth of
Dominica. Sisserou parrots have lived on the island for several
hundred thousand years and can live to be very old (over 70 years),
in captivity, some have outlived their captors. In the wild,
however, their life span may be much shorter.
The adult is 18 to 20 inches (450-510mm) long,8 inches (20 mm) wide
and weighs 2 pounds (0.9 kg). When the wings are spread out, the
distance from tip to tip is 30 inches (0.76 mm).
The Sisserou Parrot, the larger of the two parrots of the
Commonwealth of Dominica, is a heavy bodied bird. It is well
proportioned, beautifully stream-lined with colored feathers and a
curved beak characteristic of all parrots.
The upper parts and back are mostly green with greenish blue on the
head and the eyes are red. A dark violet band, appearing black, is
visible across the hindneck; the tail and under parts are of a
purplish violet hue. There is a red streak on the wing tips.
The Sisserou is seldom seen in populated areas. It is found mainly
in rain forests, chiefly at high elevations.
pair off themselves for life and are extremely faithful to each
other. A parrot will only seek another mate when its mate dies, and
even then, if it is old, it may simply grieve to death
rather than find a new mate.
Sisserou is most vulnerable when young and it faces the greatest
danger while still in chick stage. It is then exposed to further
danger from three species of birds ( Grive, GriGri and Malfani),
snakes and the oppossum.
of Dominica: The Symbols of Nationhood", Published by the
Ministry of Community Development & Social Affairs.
Information provided by the Permanent Mission of the Commonwealth of
Dominica to the OAS.