According to the current interpretation, the colors signify:
- Yellow: Represents the riches of the country, the wealth of the Colombian soil, the gold, sovereignty, harmony, justice and agriculture, as well as the Sun, the source of Light.
- Blue: represents the seas on Colombia's shores, the rivers that run through, and the sky above.
- Red: represents the blood spilled for Colombia's independence and also the effort of Colombian people, the determination and the perseverance. It represents that although Colombia's people have had to struggle they have thrived.
Francisco de Miranda was the person who originally created the common yellow, blue and red flag of Gran Colombia that Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with slight variations, share today. Miranda gave at least two sources of inspiration for his flag. In a letter written to Count Simon Romanovich Woronzoff and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Miranda described a late-night conversation he had had with Goethe at a party in Weimar during the winter of 1785. Fascinated by Miranda's account of his exploits in the United States Revolutionary War and his travels throughout the Americas and Europe, Goethe told him that, "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colours are not distorted.” He proceeded to clarify what he meant:
|First he explained to me the way the iris transforms light into the three primary colours […] then he proved to me why yellow is the most warm, noble and closest to [white] light; why blue is that mix of excitement and serenity, a distance that evokes shadows; and why red is the exaltation of yellow and blue, the synthesis, the vanishing of light into shadow.
It is not that the world is made of yellows, blues and reds; it is that in this manner, as if in an infinite combination of these three colours, we human beings see it. […] A country [Goethe concluded] starts out from a name and a flag, and it then becomes them, just as a man fulfils his destiny.
After Miranda designed his flag based on this conversation, he recalled seeing a fresco by Lazzaro Tavarone in the Palazzo Belimbau in Genoa that depicted Christopher Columbusunfurling a similar-coloured flag in Veragua during his fourth voyage.
In his military diary, Miranda gave another possible source of inspiration: the yellow, blue and red standard of the Burger Guard (Bürgerwache) of Hamburg, which he also saw during his travels in Germany.
In the 1801 plan for an army to liberate Spanish America, which he submitted unsuccessfully to the British cabinet, Miranda requested the materials for "ten flags, whose colours shall be red, yellow and blue, in three zones." However, the first flag was not raised until March 12, 1806, in Jacmel, Haiti, during his ill-fated expedition to Venezuela.