The official flag of Georgia is the "five-cross flag," restored to official use on January 14, 2004, after a break of some 500 years. It was previously the flag of the medieval Georgian kingdom and had been used as the official symbol of the United National Movement political party.
The national flag of Georgia (Saqartvelos Sakhelmtsipho Drosha), as described in the Presidential Decree No. 31 of January 25, 2004:
"The Georgian national flag is a white rectangle, within its central portion a large red cross touching all four sides of the flag. In the four corners, there are four bolnur-katskhuri crosses of the same color (as the large cross)".
Originally, the white flag with the single red St. George's cross was used by the Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the 5th century as the national symbol of the Georgian state and nation. During the golden age of the Georgian kingdom, the "five-cross flag" was used since the 13th century by Queen Tamar of Georgia. The central element of the flag is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of Georgia. This cross is also the national flag of England (whose patron saint is also Saint George) and a component of the union flag. According to the Georgian scholar Giorgi Gabeskiria, the four extra crosses were probably added during the reign of George V of Georgia (also known as "the Brilliant" or "the Splendid"), who drove out the Mongols. Around that time, the new design was adopted as a variant of the Jerusalem cross, a symbol used by crusaders in the Holy Land, which likewise used a large central cross with four smaller "crosslets" in the four quadrants. The crosses are said to have represented the five Holy Wounds of Jesus.
The flag fell out of use later in the medieval period but was revived by Georgian patriotic movement following the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. A majority of Georgians, including the influential Catholicos-Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church, supported the restoration of the flag and in 1999 the Georgian parliament passed a bill to change the flag. However, it was not endorsed by the President, Eduard Shevardnadze. It was adopted in the early 2000s by the main opposition party, the United National Movement led by Mikhail Saakashvili, as a symbol of popular resistance to Shevardnadze's rule.
The flag was adopted by the Georgian parliament on January 14, 2004. It was formally endorsed by a presidential decree signed by Saakashvili on January 25, following his election as President of Georgia. Its adoption was not without controversy, as some complained that the adoption of a party's political flag as a national emblem was an undemocratic move.