How to Step Your Latin American Flag Game Up: A Guide

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There was a time when those wanting to use a Mexican flag emoji had to get by with an Italian flag. While the people of Mexico can now ::Mexican flag emoji:: all they want, most of Latin America – as in anyone who isn’t from Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Colombia – can’t rep their country with just regular Unicode emojis. Earlier this year, The Atlantic Monthly Group, Inc. teamed up with Emojipedia to give people that real shit. Apple had already added support for most of the world’s flags, but their keyboard only has like 40 flags. If you are seriously missing the rest of the world’s flags (including the Vulcan salute), download the Flag app here.

Since we’re celebrating the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month and because Saturday Night Live didn’t do a thorough enough job on Latin American flags (though, they did show us JLO wearing Dayglo and a halo made of Play-Doh), we’ve taken on all those lookalike flags that may have confused you in the past.

Here’s how to keep them straight:

El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. The countries were then part of the First Mexican Empire until the monarchy was overthrown in 1823. The five countries became part of the United Provinces of Central America in 1823, and they adopted one flag similar to Argentina’s (Panama was part of the Republic of Colombia, and Belize was a British colony).

The United Provinces of Central America began to dissolve in 1838, and El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua ended up with flags similar to the one they had when they were one province.

How to remember which is which: They each represent the five nations in one way or another. Honduras does it with stars. Nicaragua, which is the most popular volcano boarding spot (more on that later), does it with volcanoes. And El Salvador has five flags and volcanoes; basically, the flags become more elaborate as the names get longer.

Cuba and Puerto Rico

There’s a reason the Puerto Rican and Cuban flags look similar. PR, like Cuba, was fighting for independence from Spain. In an act of solidarity, PR decided their flag should be the exact opposite of Cuba’s.

U.S. and Puerto Rico Flags

How to remember which is which: Though it was modeled after Cuba’s, the Puerto Rican flag ends up mimicking the United States’. So if you know that the U.S. has red stripes, then you can distinguish between Cuba and PR.

Argentina and Uruguay

Argentina and Uruguay have a few similarities in their flags because they were both part of the United Provinces of South America, which lasted from 1810 to 1831. Argentina was a bit of a trendsetter because not only did it influence Central America, it also shaped Uruguay’s flag. Both have the Sun of May, though they are in different places.

How to remember which is which: Think of Messi, the biggest star around which the universe of soccer revolves, and you’ll remember that Argentina is the one with the Sun of May in the middle.

Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia

Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, parts of Peru, Brazil and Guayana belonged to Gran Colombia. Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia kept the blue, red, and yellow as a symbol of their shared history.

How to remember which is which: Colombia, the biggest of the three, has the simplest of flags. Ecuador, the smallest of the three, has the most complicated one.

Chile and Texas

In 2010, Texas’ Atascosa County accidentally sent absentee voters packages with the Chilean flag on it, instead of the Texan flag, according to the Huffington Post. The two are very similar, except that the blue in the Texas flag goes from top to bottom. The Chile flag came first by about two decades.

How to remember which is which: Chile’s soccer team is La Roja, and fittingly, their flag has more red than Texas’.