85% of people can't name these state flags from their images. Can you?

By: J. Scott Wilson
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Each of the 50 flags of the United States displays local history, color and design to exemplify the personality of that state. How many U.S. State flags can you identify from their images? Take this quiz to find out!

If you didn't know there were buffalo in Wyoming, the state flag should make that abundantly clear for you. The state seal on the beast symbolizes the practice of branding livestock, so you might be able to hear the buffalo saying "Ouch" if you listen closely.

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (Meck Dec to Charlotteans) was one of the first announcements of rebellion to British rule, and its date appears on the flag (May 20, 1775). The other date, April 12, 1776, commemorates the Halifax Resolves, which was another statement of independence.

The New Mexico flag would almost be at home on the Iberian Peninsula, with the red and yellow hearkening back to the days of the Spanish conquistadors. The Zia cross in the middle is an homage to the heritage of the Pueblo people.

California's flag is also known as The Bear Flag, and the reason why should be fairly obvious. The bear may have been modeled on the last California grizzly bear in captivity, which died in 1911.

A longtime tourism slogan of Texas is, "It's like a whole other country." The grammatical horror of that statement aside, it's true. This explains the "Lone Star" on the Texas flag, Texas having been an independent republic for a time before joining the U.S.

Rhode Island is all about hope, with the gold anchor symbolizing that and the word itself across the bottom. I'll just bet you can guess what the 13 stars stand for, right? Well, in this case they also stand for Rhode Island's status as the 13th state to ratify the Constitution.

Now here's a flag with a lot going on! The 13 red and yellow bands symbolize the original 13 states, and the color stands for the Arizona sunsets. The copper star represents copper mining. The blue across the bottom is the Colorado River. You'd certainly never confuse this one with another state's flag.

Well, what would you put on a state named Washington, other than a picture of our first president? Oddly enough, this is the only state flag to have a picture of a president on it.

Alaska's flag has one of the best stories behind it. Again, a contest was set to determine the design, this time limited to children in grades 7-12. A 13-year-old orphan named Benny Benson won the contest and $1,000 for his design, which shows the stars he'd see every night.

Well, at least there's no coat of arms on this simple banner. It's loosely based on the Confederate flag, and the design is referred to as a St. Andrew's cross.

Nope, you're not seeing things. The Mississippi state flag incorporates the Confederate battle flag into its design. There has, of course, been copious comment on this fact, but as of yet no move to change it.

Yep, those Vermonters sure are proud of their forests, aren't they? Pine needles support the state coat of arms in the middle, and a lone pine tree is the most identifiable feature of the seal itself!

The striking flag of Maryland is designed on the look of the heraldic flag of Lord Baltimore. Yes, there really was a Lord Baltimore. No, he's not the guy in the odd coat at the bus station wearing a crown.

South Carolina's flag is one of the most readily identifiable in the U.S. The palmetto tree and the crescent (not actually a crescent moon, but it looks like one) evoke thoughts of the beach, and the state has plenty of seacoast.

Florida's flag is very close to Alabama's in design, both bearing the red cross echoing a Confederate past. This one, however, has the state seal at the union of the cross lines. Florida's seal is a very busy thing, with lots of greenery and natural imagery worked in.

It's kind of hard to miss the Louisiana flag, since it's got the state bird on it. Pelicans are uniquely ungraceful birds, but if you're a fish and they get a bead on you, say your goodbyes.

The outdoorsy nature of Colorado is symbolized by its flag, with the red standing for the red earth and the gold being the sunshine. Hey, at least it's not a state seal, right?

You've got to love flags that incorporate a tourism plug along with the design. South Dakota's has "The Mount Rushmore State" around the bottom of the state seal in the center.

The New York flag is very old-school, with figures of Liberty and Justice. In the center is an image of a sloop on the Hudson River. No word on whether it was called the John B.

Delaware's flag pretty much contains all the elements of classic state flag. The colors reflect those of George Washington's military uniform, there's a farmer and a soldier, plus symbols of agriculture, including an ox. Given Delaware's tiny size, that may indeed be the only ox that could fit into the boundaries.

Here's a festival of Colonial-era symbology, with wheat, a ship, a bald eagle and a plow, flanked by rearing horses. I'm in favor of a modern update to the flag that would incorporate a cheesesteak and Rocky Balboa.

Yes, I know it's another state seal-based flag, but Kansas has a colorful seal that reminds me of a '70s cartoon. The sunflower popping out of the top is a nice touch, too.

More blue and another state seal, and this time the blue even runs into the seal itself. This flag was ranked second-worst in the American Vexillological Association survey. It once flew upside-down at the State Capitol for 10 days before anyone noticed!

A lot of states have Native American history, but none show it on their flags more prominently than Oklahoma. The Osage buffalo-skin shield is crossed by a peace pipe and an olive branch, and seven eagle feathers hang below.

Ohio's state flag is the only one in the country that isn't rectangular. An Eagle Scout came up with the official procedure for folding the flag, which has 17 steps and requires two people to complete.

The stars on the Tennessee flag symbolize the three regions of the state, with the blue encircling them standing for unity. Believe it or not, the blue bar on the end was just a design fillip, intended to keep the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp.

Would you ever in a million years think this was Hawaii's flag? No palm trees? No beaches? It's actually an amalgam of the U.S. and British flags, symbolizing its history of influence by the British Empire. Also, the eight stripes represent the eight main islands.

Ah, yes, it's another "state seal on a solid-color background" flag. You'll see a lot of those. The American Vexillological Association (flag buffs) voted this one of the worst, ranking 60th out of 72 state, territory and Canadian provincial flags.

It might surprise you to learn that Indiana didn't even have a state flag until 1917, when a contest was held to find a good design. The winner received $100. The flag's stars, like those on a lot of other state flags, symbolize Indiana's order in joining the U.S.

The North Dakota flag is based on one carried by the North Dakota troop contingent during the Philippine-American War. Raise your hand if this is the first time you've ever heard of that war. News to me!

OK, Idaho, I understand that designing a state flag isn't high on the list of things to do when you're becoming a state, but maybe a little reconsideration is in order? The whole "state seal with a banner" thing is overdone, and this one's plainer than most. Maybe some potatoes?

The state flags of the original 13 colonies have often served multiple purposes. This flag, for example, was the naval ensign of the Massachusetts Navy during the Revolutionary War and long after, presumably until someone realized that Massachusetts didn't really need a navy.

Here's another "state seal in the middle of the flag" design, but this one's more colorful than most. Flowering rhododendron (the state flower) surrounds an image of sturdy-looking fellows and the whole thing is bordered in blue.

I guess it's no surprise that, in a state known for gambling, the state flag design came out of a contest. This one contains no dice or cards, but sprigs of sagebrush with a banner reading "Battle Born" at the top. Nevada became a state during the Civil War.

The ship on the flag is the USS Raleigh, built in New Hampshire as one of the first 13 warships ordered by the Continental Congress. The nine stars symbolize New Hampshire's place as the ninth state to join the Union.

The ordering of the color bands on Iowa's flag mirror the French flag, dating to the time when Iowa was part of the Louisiana Purchase territory. Oddly enough, there is no corn anywhere on this flag.

Just not a whole lot going on in this flag, with a smallish seal in the middle of a sea of blue. The figures in the middle are a statesman and frontiersman, with legend having it that they were Henry Clay and Daniel Boone, respectively.

You might mistake this for the California flag, with the grapevines featured prominently. It actually symbolizes the transplanting of the original colonists to North America, and the wine they drank when they realized their new home didn't have running water or Starbucks.

Those flag nerds at the American Vexillological Society named this the third-worst flag in the U.S. and Canada, partially because for some reason it was necessary to put the state name in big letters across the top. To me, the red mountain range gives the seal a Pac-Man vibe at first glance.

This one bears the French flag colors in the background, symbolizing that it was part of the Louisiana Purchase. There are assorted symbols of strength in the state seal, most notably grizzly bears.

We're used to a lot of Latin slogans on flags, but Michigan's is one of the oddest. The "Si Quaeris..." one means, "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." It's like a tourism slogan embedded in the flag!

Like a lot of state flags, this one was created at the urging of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1912, the DAR wanted to present a state flag at the commissioning of a battleship named after the state, and realized that Arkansas didn't yet have a state flag.

There's been a lot of tinkering with the Wisconsin flag over the years, most recently in 1979, when the state name and year were added. Fun fact: An older version of the flag was flown over Antarctica in 1941 by explorer Carl Eklund, a native of the state.

The early leaders of Virginia thought the coat-of-arms style was too reminiscent of Great Britain, so they went in a different direction. They had great respect for the Roman Republic, which explains the toga-clad fellow in the center. Wearing a toga in Virginia today might get you some odd looks.

Oregonians are known for wanting to be different, and their flag is no exception. It's the only two-sided flag in the country, with the state seal on the front and a beaver (the state animal) on the back. No coffee beans or beer mugs in sight!

This looks like a pretty standard-issue state flag at first. There's the bald eagle, the shield-shaped crest in the middle with a beehive representing industry. It's one of the few state flags to incorporate the U.S. flag into its design. The early Mormon settlers did so to show their allegiance, which was at the time in doubt.

Just as you'd expect from a solid Midwestern state, Illinois' flag is mainstream American iconography. The bald eagle should be fairly obvious, and the two dates refer to the date Illinois became a state and the date the new seal was designed.

The American Vexillological Society voted Minnesota's flag as one of its 10 worst. I'm not sure what the creators intended, but the white circle around the state seal looks like a life preserver ... perhaps in case someone begins to drown in the blue background?

The state seal on this flag is a dog's breakfast of symbolism. We've got the goddesses of Liberty and Prosperity, with Prosperity holding a cornucopia and Liberty holding a liberty cap (whatever THAT is). There's a helmet with a horse's head coming out of the top, possibly an homage to "The Godfather?" The three plows represent agriculture, and if you've seen the farms in South Jersey that keep New York fed, you'd understand.

The design principle behind this flag is a bit controversial, as it was the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. However, the thirteen stars on the blue panel symbolize Georgia being one of the original thirteen colonies, so perhaps there's a balance? This latest version was selected in 2003.

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