The flag currently used in Laos was adopted in 1975 and was the flag of the Pathet Lao, a left-wing nationalist group that fought the U.S.-supported government in the 60's and early 70's and finally won control of Laos in 1975. It consists of a blue horizontal stripe in the middle, surrounded by two red stripes. In the center of the blue stripe is a white circle. The red stripes stand for the blood shed in the fight for freedom. The blue stripe is a symbol for wealth, as well as the Mekong River. The white circle represents the full moon over the river, as well as unity of the two Laotian regions divided by the river under the communist government.
The flag prior to 1975 displayed the national symbol or fin flash of Laos. This was a three-headed elephant with a white parasol on a five-step platform. The elephant signifies the three 16th century kingdoms of Laos; the parasol is a symbol of royalty; and the five steps of the platform stand for five commandments of Buddhism that outlaw: killing, stealing, lying, adultery, and abuse of alcohol. All of this was on a red background. This flag was used from 1952 until 1975.