There’s just something about a biggest something that gets our juices flowing, and for those of us with flag nerd tendencies, what could possibly be better than an award winningly huge flagpole? And these countries have not just accidentally built flagpoles that happened to be bigger than other countries’ – in every one of these cases it’s a very obvious case of “mine’s bigger than yours”. The perfect recipe of phallic symbols together with unbridled national pride. Here is the top ten of the world’s tallest flagpoles.
10. Sheboygan, USA – 120m high
Considering the other countries in the contest, USA fits right in. Unlike most flags in this list though, this was thanks to the inspiration of an individual, not a government – in this case the CEO and President of the insurance company Acuity. Built on the grounds of their headquarters in Wisconsin, it stands at 120m. Each stripe on the flag is about 1.5 high and the stars are about a 1m wide each. The first attempt to build a huge flagpole here was in 2003 and between then and the eventual finished product in 2014, there were 3 failed attempts, all of which collapsed in the wind. Since its makers couldn’t get the title of highest flagpole in the world and that “the world’s tenth tallest flagpole” doesn’t sound as good, they had to call it “the world’s tallest symbol of freedom”.
Equal 8. Wagah, Pakistan – 122m high
This one isn’t an ambiguous attempt to prove “mine’s bigger than yours” to the rest of the world – this one is the result of a specific feud between Pakistan and India. Ever heard of the magnificent show that goes on every day at the Wagah border crossing between the two countries? Well to cut a long story short, it’s an epic display of patriotism, military prowess and general machoism (highly recommend going to watch it!), and when India built a flag big enough that it could be seen from Lahore, Pakistan decided that they weren’t having it and built an even bigger one in August 2017. Making it the 8th biggest flagpole in the world, they definitely won that particular battle. We visit the Wagah ceremony as part of all our Pakistan tours, such as our Karakoram Highway Tour and you can contact us for our other Pakistan tours such as our Afghanistan and Pakistan combo tours, which are not shown on the website!
Equal 8. Abu Dhabi, UAE – 122m high
Once the tallest in the world, this flagpole has slid down the list a bit. Erected in 2001 on UAE’s 30th National Day, it overtook a 110m flagpole in Mexico and kept the title until 2003. More than that though, it’s possibly thanks to this one that we now have the worldwide contest that this has now become. The pole itself was actually built in Texas and shipped to UAE in ten separate pieces and although the surrounding area hadn’t yet been developed in 2001, the base of the flag is now a tourist hot-spot for views of the city’s skyline. But they’ve also put the giant pole to use with cameras installed at the top that can be used for coverage of public events.
7. Amman, Jordan – 126.8m high
Stealing the title from Abu Dhabi, the Raghadan Flagpole was built in the grounds of Raghadan Palace in Amman, and the flag was officially hoisted by King Abdullah II in June 2003. The flag flies well above the skyline of Amman and impressively, is visible from 20km away, especially at night when it’s lit up amidst a relatively dark city. Although the construction is supposed to withstand earthquakes, apparently the 30x60m flag itself makes way too much noise during periods of high winds, and is therefore lowered when the weather is too bad. You can see this flag as part of our Jordan, the business of war tour!
6. Aqaba, Jordan – 131m high
This becomes a theme for the rest of the list – overtaking the previous holder of the title, this one was built in 2004 and itself became the world’s largest flagpole (until someone else overtook them). At that point Jordan must have been pretty happy with themselves, holding numbers 1 and 2 on this life-changing list. Unlike the other flags in contention though, this one doesn’t fly the country’s national flag, but instead flies the flag of the Arab Revolt to commemorate the Battle of Aqaba in 1917. And if you thought the Wagah one was cool, being able to be seen from another country, try being visible from three other countries! Located right at the top point of the Gulf of Aqaba, this huge pole can be seen from Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
5. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – 133m high
Built in 2008, Turkmenistan not surprisingly entered this competition and took the title from Jordan. If you’ve been to Turkmenistan, or read much about the place, you’ll know that this is a bit of a theme – not flagpoles specifically, just having the biggest of all sorts of absurd things. I won’t list them all here, but Turkmenistan’s records include “most fountain pools in a public place”, “most people singing in a round”, “largest indoor ferris wheel”, “highest density of white marble-clad buildings”, “largest cycling awareness lesson”, “largest building in the shape of a star”, “largest building in the shape of a horse”, and many many more. Most of those don’t come with the stiff competition that the contest for largest flagpole entails though. Bearing the flag of Turkmenistan, the flagpole of Ashgabat ranks fifth! Visit it as part of our Turkmenistan Independence Day Tour.
4. Kijongdong, North Korea – 160m high
Now this is where it gets really interesting, because whilst all these countries were battling over who had the biggest pole, no one had realised that North Korea had been sitting on the title for quite a while already. And this one wasn’t a matter of beating the previous title holder by a measly couple of metres, entering North Korea in the competition increased the record by a very respectable 27m. You might have heard of the “flag war” between the North and the South in the 1980s? Well of course none of us were there so it’s hard to know exactly how it all transpired, but basically the two sides continuously erected larger flags than the other until the North won this particular battle with a 160m tall flagpole and 30 metres x 60 metres flag in Kijongdong, or “Peace Village”, the propaganda town just on the northern side of the border. And yes, that’s the same place as the famous propaganda music was played from. Being the experts in North Korea that we are, don’t be surprised if we say we’ve seen it many, many a time and join us next time on one of our multiple tours to the DPRK.
3. Baku, Azerbaijan – 162m high
Adding just 2m to the previous record, Azerbaijan took the lead in 2007, although the purpose-built National Flag Square built in the centre of town wasn’t fully completed and officially opened until September 2011. It was removed for several months at one point when the pole was “sagging” and nearby residents were evacuated from their homes, not allowed to return and when some of them tried they found all their doors and windows boarded up. The problem seems to have been resolved though and the flag was flying high again by the time they hosted Eurovision in 2012. Have a look at it during our tour of Azerbaijan!
2. Dushanbe, Tajikistan – 165m high
Knocking out Azerbaijan in 2011, Tajikistan’s 165m flagpole, bearing the national flag of Tajkistan, is actually a pretty cool place to visit, and next time you’re in Dushanbe I’d recommend putting it on your to-do-list. Located in front of the Palace of Nations in the centre of the capital city, it’s next to a little man-made lake inside a beautifully manicured park and there are rides, games, food and drink stands, and especially in summer, loads of locals hanging out having fun. Witness the pole as part of our 5 Stans Tour!
1. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – 175m high
There’s actually a few different claims on high this one is exactly, ranging from 170m to 175m. Details aside though, we can all agree it’s pretty big, and most importantly it’s definitely the biggest. I’m sure when the next one overtakes we’ll find out for sure the exact height. The flag was raised for the first time on Saudi Arabia’s National Day in 2014, in the centre of King Abdullah Square in Jeddah. It’s surrounded by 13 lights symbolising the 13 governates of the country, along with plants to represent the palm tree and two swords of the national emblem. Sadly though it’s actually quite difficult to see these things in person – in reality it’s in the middle of a huge roundabout, so without having a car accident I don’t know how you’re really meant to see these details. Still though, a pretty unique roundabout! The world’s number one pole is a fixture of our tours to Saudi Arabia!