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Animals that Represent Nations

A look at the different animals that represent countries around the world.
Heard of African Cows

National animals can be a beautiful quirk, walking the line between genuine admiration for a country’s diversity of wildlife and boisterous arrogance about how they should be seen. There are some animals that make more sense than others, for example, Canadian beavers, Indian Bengal tigers, Spanish bulls, Australian kangaroos, and New Zealand-ish kiwis are all emblematic of their own countries and cultures, and along with the United States, these are probably the most commonly known ones.

However, there are some strange animal representatives for countries like the Turquoise-Browed Motmot representing El Salvador or the Fennec Fox that represents Algeria. 

We’ve taken a look at some of the quirkiest, cuties and straight-up fantastical creates representing some of the biggest names on the global map. It would seem that most countries adopt a mammal as their animal, with 120 of 185 going for mammals, ranging from Mexico’s Xoloitzcuintli to sea pups like the Cape Verdean Manatee – and just about everything in between. Birds account for the majority of the rest, with 52 flying animals among the elite. The German black eagle, the gloriously unintimidating Bahamian flamingo, and the straight-up stunningly brilliant Guatemalan quetzal are all examples of this.

The Indonesian Komodo dragon is a strong representation of the islands nation, while the Barbadian Mahi-Mahi and Maldivian Yellowfin Tuna deserve special mention for demonstrating that, while there are many more fish in the sea, only two have been designated as national animals. 

There needs to be a special mention to the lone amphibian that represents Panama, the Panamanian Golden Frog, while everyone else is choosing lions and dragons Panama has been true to its self and chosen a local legend. We respect you Panama. 

Due to the limited amount of Legendary real animals, some countries went off script and decided to delve into the mythical animal encyclopedia-like North Korea’s Chollima (Qianlima) and the proud Welsh dragon. 

When it comes to dominant animals, the Lion is the national animal of 19 nations, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, as well as Cameroon and Liberia (where you would actually find them).

There are only 22 national animal selects that aren’t native to their respective countries due to the fact that they’re not real animals to begin with!

J82YNY monument flag heraldry Scotland unicorn Edinburgh historical monument culture

Unicorns have been a part of many cultures since the classical era, including the ancient Babylonians and the Indus civilisation. The unicorn is a symbol of purity, innocence, and strength in Celtic mythology, with its white horse-like body and one spiralling horn. Their horns are said to be so powerful that they can even cleanse poisoned water, according to legend. 

These proud, untamed beasts are fiercely independent and notoriously difficult to capture or conquer, as anybody who has studied Scottish history will know. Despite the fact that unicorns are mythical, Scots have always been captivated by the symbolism they offer.

Scotland is proud of its national animal, and to be honest, just like how England’s national animal is a lion (I’m pretty sure there have never been wild lions in England), Scotland as with a few other countries are allowed to delve into myth in order to find something that truly represents their spirit as a nation. 

Merkat Crossing unicorn scotland

You can find unicorns on Scottish coats of arms or crests, or Look for a unicorn atop the tower anywhere you see a Mercat cross (a Scottish market cross and a historic emblem of commerce and prosperity for many of our towns and communities). In towns and cities like Edinburgh, Culross, Prestonpans, Dunfermline, and Falkland, there are several examples ranging from the simple to the grandiose.

Across the world there are some amazing animals to represent nations, some are misplaced and some are spot on. Scotlands fascination with the Unicorn is one of the latter, a nation of untameable beauty and flair that can only be compared to a mythical beast.

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