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The color of every country's passport, in one map

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Reddit user mrfishsticks created this map of passport colors around the world, with each country colored according to its standard passport:

passport colors


In some cases, the color of the passport tells you something about the country's values: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia all use green, the color of Islam, as do a number of other Muslim-majority countries.

In other cases, passport colors demonstrate alliances — or hoped-for alliances. Members of the Economic Community of West African States have green passports. Member states of the European Union have burgundy passports — so do states that have aspired to join the EU, including Turkey, Macedonia, and Albania, which changed their passports for what the Economist described as a "branding exercise."

Another cluster of burgundy passports, in South America, represents the Andean Community — Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — as well as former member Chile. Next to the Andean Community is Mercosur, a customs union of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela; its passports are blue. (Venezuela, a former member of the Andean Community, still has a burgundy passport, but you get the idea.)

South African passports switched from blue to green in 1994 with the formation of the post-Apartheid government. (At least in some circles, the passport is known as the "green mamba," after a poisonous snake, because of the difficulty South Africans face obtaining visas — although it's worth noting that a South African passport offers greater global entrée than passports of most African nations.)

It's not uncommon for passport colors to change: The US has used red and green in the past and didn't settle on blue until 1994.