People can identify themselves with their national and social roots by means of flags and heraldic emblems. Flags involve intense emotional aspects for all people irrespective of their home country or region. In a way, a flag is like a miniature community, with all its “sacred” values. The flags of states and any changes in them reflect the rise of nations and the fall of empires, influence of religions, spreading of ideologies, and political affiliations. The very essence and influence of history can be summarised in flags.
Flags and heraldic symbols can be used to describe the history, culture and interaction of different countries and communities in a graphic and memorable manner. The Flag World of Hamina endeavours to be not only an attraction and an important tourist destination but also an educational and informative centre.
Hamina is the oldest garrison town in Finland. Flags and their use are a key factor of military culture. The Town of Hamina has experience spanning over 20 years of arranging the International Military Music Festival Hamina Tattoo. The unique architecture, historic fortress and military heritage of Hamina together with competence in organising large-scale events provide an excellent setting for the Flag World of Hamina.
Hamina is also a major port in Finland. The modern use of flags has its roots in the expansion of shipping. Moreover, Hamina is a frontier town, a gateway between the East and West. With more and more international interaction, the role of flags as symbols of nations and groups of people is on the increase. The location and historic features of Hamina render it a natural home for a new international flag centre.
The Flag World of Hamina is a project carried out by the Town of Hamina. The project has a Board chaired by Mr Hannu Muhonen, Mayor of Hamina. Stakeholder relations are managed by the Advisory Committee of the Flag World of Hamina. The Chairman of the Advisory Committee is Mr Matti Vanhanen, Member of Parliament, and the Vice Chairman is Mr Ilkka Kanerva, Member of Parliament.
The principal expert of the Flag World of Hamina is Dr Kimmo Kiljunen, and the Artistic Director is Mr Lassi Ikäheimo. An expert group in heraldry and vexillology and a potential relief association will be established to support the project.
The Flag World of Hamina has been accepted as one of the projects of the centenary celebrations of Finnish independence. The Ministry of the Interior, which carries official responsibility for the measures related to the national flag and use of the flag, also supports the Flag World of Hamina.
The Flag World of Hamina consists of a number of issues that support each other. These are described in more detail below.