How the ‘True South’ Flag of Antarctica Came to Be

CGP Grey explains, in his typically fervent manner, how the True South Flag of Antarctica came to be in 2020 after another flag that was designed specifically for the Electronic Arts game 3D World Atlas became the de facto flag in 1997.

…an early research vessel flew a white sheet as a flag of courtesy for passing through Antarctica’s waters…it didn’t catch on …And it stayed that way until 1997, with a curious development as a company, Multimedia Corporation, was developing a video game. The 3D World Atlas. And yes, for nerdy nineties kids, a digital atlas totally counted as a game. Multi Co noticed Antarctica’s flag absence and deputized a designer to draw one.

The new flag, which represents the whole of the continent rather than the individual countries that lay claim, features a minimalist design that nods to their sister continent in the North. It was designed in 2018 and released to the public in 2020.

See, in 2018, a new Antarctic flag, public domain, came on the scene. It starts with the snow and ice white sheet from before, but adds above the dark skies that dominate the continent for six months a year. A mountain in the center uplifts, for unlike in the north, there’s an actual land under the ice, and it casts a shadow to create the symbol of a compass pointing south. Which, as a bonus, makes this design mirror the northern most flag on the northern most continent just with flipped color placement for flipped pole placement.

True South Flag

The flag also maintains complete political neutrality.

With a distinct design and a color of blue unique among national flags True South maintains political neutrality without sacrificing meaning. Here it is among the flags of the original 12 signatories of the Antarctic Treaty.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.