The Russian flag is a tricolor (Триколор) flag that contains three horizontal strips of equal size with white on the top, blue in the middle, and red on the bottom. The colors on this flag are often refereed to as Pan-Slavic colors. Pan-Slavic colors are said to represent countries that have a common history of Slavic people, and are also said to represent Slavic independence. This flag became the official flag of Russia in 1896. However the flag was being used before 1896 as a flag for merchant and war ships. In 1923 Soviet Russia adopted a red flag with a hammer, sickle, and star on it. After the collapse of the soviet union in 1991 the tricolor flag was adopted again as the new flag for the Russian Federation.