Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Questions about the website:

Can I use your music files / lyrics / sheet music / information on my website / in my project / on a CD?
We encourage people to use the information on this site in other works so that the knowledge of national anthems can be shared beyond the scope of this site. The site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (Creative Commons License). We would prefer, if at all possible, that be credited as the source of information used from the site, and a link be provided to This license, however, does not extend to any music file or anthem lyrics marked as ¬© copyrighted to any person or entity, they retain the copyright and that information cannot be used by others without obtaining permission from them first. (These copyrighted files are the music files for the Aland Islands, St. Barthélemy, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the sheet music for the Turks and Caicos, and the English translation of the Botswana anthem.)

Also keep in mind that if you wish to contribute information or files to the site that, unless you state otherwise, they must be able to be shared under the same license as well.

Why are there no sheet music / lyrics / music for a particular anthem?
While this site aims to have the most complete information of national anthems available, sometimes we have not been able to find all the required information for an anthem. If you have information that is not on the site, and would like to share it, please let us know!

Are some of your MP3 files converted MIDI files?
Yes, roughly half of the MP3s on the site are converted MIDI files, yet they are all in MP3 format. The main reason for this is for many files (especially those of former anthems), there is a dearth of MP3 files that we have the performer’s clearance to use. While national anthems themselves are in the public domain (see more on that in the question “Are national anthems copyrighted?”), individual performances or arrangements are almost always copyrighted. Since this site is set up so that people can use the information and data within free of charge (see the second question in this section as well as our Creative Commons license for more information), in order to use an MP3 file, we must first seek permission from the copyright holder; since the intent of this site is to distribute our information free of charge, permission is not usually granted. That being said, most current anthems of mainly UN members are in MP3 format due to permission being granted to use a particular set of anthems on this site. The rest of the anthems here are converted from MIDI files that we have been able to use (and several of those files were created by the primary editor of the site). Due to changing technologies, it was easier to convert the MIDI files to MP3, rather than keep them as MIDI.

How do I listen to, view, or download the music, sheet music, or lyrics?
For the music, you should see a play button icon in the music section. Clicking the play button will expand the music player; at first there wil be a flashing square next to a pause button, the flashing square indicates the music is loading. Once loaded, the flashing square will change to a progress bar with a timer showing the time elapsed on the playback, pressing the pause button to the right will pause the playback. Beside each music file should be the word “Download” in blue on a grey box, left clicking on that will save the music file to your computer’s download directory. Music files linked within the information section of each anthem will be a normal blue hyperlink, a left click will play it in another window, and right clicking should bring up a dialogue box, select the appropriate one to save the file (on Windows systems, it is labelled “Save File As … “; on Macs it is labelled “Download Linked File As …”) Copyrighted music files do not have the download link and will instead display a notice of who owns the copyright for that piece below the music file, please respect the owner’s copyright and do not attempt to download their files to your computer.

If you wish to view the lyrics, click on the text corresponding to which lyrics you want to view (English translation, lyrics in native language, in the native script, etc.) Clicking it again will hide it. Note that some language scripts may not display on your computer (you may see boxes or other strange characters), this just means that you don’t have the proper fonts or rendering support to view the lyrics. Wikipedia has a helpful article on what you need to do in order to display these languages on your computer.

Ocassionaly, you may encounter a word or phrase in the lyrics that is underlined, this signifies that there is additional information on this word or phrase that aids in the understanding of the lyrics, hovering your mouse over the word or phrase will show the information.

Sheet music can be easily viewed by left-clicking on the blue description or page number in question, the sheet music should appear in another tab in your browser window. The pages can be downloaded by right-clicking on the various descriptions or page numbers in blue for the sheet music, and saving in the same fashion as explained above for the music files.

What is the difference between 'English translation' and 'English versification'? What does 'Romanization' mean?
A translation attempts to provide a close-as-possible English meaning to the words so that they can be understood by English readers. A versification, however, is a more loose translation that matches the rhyming scheme and meter of the original so that it can be sung in English, but the translation may not be a good match of the meaning of the original words. Romanization is a way of representing languages in the Roman (Latin) alphabet that use another alphabet. This is primarily done to get an idea of the pronunciation of the words.

It should also be noted that this site attempts if at all possible to match the lyrics to the music, which may require repeating certain lines in the lyrics that are not presented in the official version of the lyrics as repeated, yet are meant to be repeated for performance.

What is a 'local anthem' or 'national song'? Why doesn't your website show the anthem of the parent country as the national anthem of a territory or dependency?
Most territories and dependencies have a local anthem or national song to use when their own identity is wished to be expressed, for example, in sporting events and local celebrations. In almost all cases the anthem of the parent country remains the official “national anthem” of the territory or dependency; this website means to reflect this in the information write-ups of the territories, presenting the local anthem as the unique anthem of the territory while mentioning the parent country’s anthem as the true national anthem.

Why is there hardly any information on a particular anthem?
Short answer: we couldn’t find any! The information on this page is culled from other anthem sites, official government pages for each nation, contributors, books, and our own knowledge. Unfortunately, the fact is that we just haven’t found much information on many nations through these means. Which leaves us with our contributors. If you know of information on a particular anthem, please let us know, and it will be shared on the page, citing you as a contributor! (Don’t forget to let us know your name!)

How do you determine which anthems appear on your site?
This is, as you may guess, a very controversial topic and can be quite political. This site tries to stay away from political controversy on this site (which isn’t easy), so we have attempted to follow for the most part two international organizations’ lists of recognized nations, the International Standards Organizations 3166 list, which is, in turn, based on United Nations data. (The file names of all the data are based on the ISO3166 list as well). Aside from recognized nations, there are also other national anthems on this site, which is even harder to determine what to include, and usually garner the most questions as to why it is included. Dependencies and colonies are included (based on United Nations and ISO3166 data) if they have their own regional anthem different from the parent country, with a few exceptions as a matter of general interest. Subnational areas (provinces, states, districts) are included if they either have some degree of autonomy (such as the Azores and Tibet), have been an independent nation (or separate colony) before (such as Bavaria and Newfoundland), is a distinct “nation within a nation”, often having a distinct national characteristic from the “parent nation” (such as Scotland and Basque Country), or (primarily) that we felt would be of general interest to our visitors. (Note that many countries that have subnational areas have local songs in the subnational areas, but they are not “national anthems”, but rather “provincial/state/prefecture/regional songs”). Finally, there are other anthems that aren’t of nations or subnational areas, such as those of people groups (Kurdistan, Assyria), former nations (Austria-Hungary, East Germany), or just plain miscellaneous (Esperanto, United Federation of Planets) that are included mainly as a broader view of the study of national anthems and how they are used; inclusive-ness is determined mainly by percieved level of visitor interest. For those wanting to learn about anthems that we decided not to include (such as state or regional songs), please visit (Contributions submitted to this site that don’t match the site criteria may be submitted to the site and appear there.)

Please keep in mind that this site is set up not to be a list of countries of the world (which would exclude a lot of entries on this site), but rather of anthems of the world; despite the political status of the group using the anthem, this site only concerns itself with the background of the anthem, not the politics or status of the group using the anthem.

What is the history behind this site?
This site was founded in late 1999 by David Kendall, the primary editor and maintainer of the site, then as a project on his personal home page. The exact date of founding is lost to time, but through, the first appearance of this very early version of the site can be dated to between October 7 and November 3 of that year, October 29 has been chosen as the anniversary date of the site. David has been interested in geography and national data since he was young, having received a software program circa 1990 about national data (PC Globe’s Maps n Facts) and seeing that anthems of several of the then-new post-Soviet countries were missing, he decided to research them. Having accumulated much information over the years, more than what was then available on the internet for anthems research, he decided to create a national anthems reference page to aid others who may be looking for anthem information. In mid-2003, the site moved to its current host and became known as In 2013, the site took on an assistant editor, Zachary Harden to help with the site work. In 2019, started to work on the Dr. Hartley M. Stevens Anthem Research Institute to aid others who are wanting to study national anthems by providing links and scans to papers, books, and recordings.

You can reach our team through our contact form.

What tools were used to create this site?
This site was created using the Suffusion theme of WordPress, as well as some handy plugins developed by others like Collapse-o-matic for the anthem lyrics, Custom Field Widget for the anthem information, and MP3-jPlayer for the music files.

Where have you been interviewed about national anthems? What other works have you lent your expertise to?
The primary editor David Kendall have been interviewed about anthems on the radio for:

BBC Radio (“Curious Questions Answered” August 12, 2002) (no clip available)
Radio Slovenia (“Sredi Evrope” March 9, 2005)
BBC Radio (“Word of Mouth” September 4, 2006)
BBC Radio Solent (October 17, 2006)
CBC Radio (“Sounds Like Canada” December 27, 20007)
CBC Radio (“The Current” March 5, 2010)


He has also been interviewed for the following newspapers:

Our anthems expertise have also been consulted for Encyclopedia of National Anthems by Xing Hang, National Anthems of the World, 11th edition by Michael J. Bristow, and the CD set National Anthems of the World by Naxos Classical.

If you wish to contact someone from this site for an interview, you may do so at our contact form.

Questions concerning national anthems:

Why do countries use national anthems? Do all countries use national anthems?
Interestingly, there is no international law that requires a country to adopt an anthem (or a flag), yet currently every country has realized that this is something that is needed as part of a national identity. An anthem is used to musically express what a country (or other group of people) stand for and what unites them, like a flag or a national motto. In modern times, the only country to not have adopted a national anthem at a particular time was Afghanistan; during the reign of the Taliban (a strict Islamic group) from 1999-2002, music was forbidden in the country, therefore a national anthem would have been against this law. After the Taliban was defeated, the anthem used up to that point was reinstated. (Germany also did not have an anthem from 1945 to 1949, but, legally, there was no German government at the time.)
How did the practice of national anthems get started?
The first countries to adopt national anthems were the European monarchies, in the late 18th century. (Probably the earliest of those was Great Britian.) It was probably started as a means of praise to the ruler. The tradition quickly spread across Europe as other countries saw the advantages of such a song. Other countries with republican types of government (such as France) developed anthems from songs that were de facto anthems, songs used as rallying cries of the people. People-groups and regions developed their anthems in much the same way. However a particular nation came about with their national anthem, the practice spread to other parts of the globe during the late 19th century, when Europeans were colonizing other countries and bringing in their ways. Until the early twentieth century, “national anthems” as we know them were rare (indeed there was not the need for them that we have, no television or radio to broadcast them, no Olympics to play a winner’s anthem, etc.) Therefore, keep in mind that most of the anthems on this site before roughly 1930 were probably unofficial. Also, note that many of the leading countries of today didn’t officially adopt an anthem until well into the twentieth century (United States (1931), Germany (1922), Canada (1980)), and some (like the United Kingdom and Finland) never officially adopted an anthem, their anthems in current use have been “de facto” legitimized through popular use.

One of the best quotes on the subject can be found from Thomas O’Higgins, a legislator from Ireland. Speaking on the national anthem in 1933, he said: “National Anthems come about, not because of the suitability of the particular words or notes, but because they are adopted generally by the nation. That is exactly how the “Soldier’s Song” became a National Anthem in this country. It happened to be the Anthem on the lips of the people when they came into their own and when the outsiders evacuated the country and left the insiders here to make the best or the worst of the country. It was adopted by the people here before ever it was adopted by the Executive Council”.

Are there any national anthems without words?
There are actually quite a surprising number of anthems without words, for whatever reason. Currently, this site lists 28 of them. Only a few of these are currently used anthems, these are the anthems of Spain, Basque Country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe, Kosovo, San Marino, Sealand, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the United Federation of Planets. Other anthems no longer in use that were wordless are those of Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan (1926-1943), Egypt (-1958), Iraq (1924-1958), Iraq (1959-1965, 2003-2004), Iraq (1965-1981), Italy (1862-1946), Kuwait (1951-1978), North Yemen (1962-1978), Ottoman Empire (1829-1839, 1918-1922), Ottoman Empire (1839-1861, 1876), Ottoman Empire (1861-1876), Qatar (1954-1996), Russia (1991-2000), Somalia (1960-2000), Somaliland (1960), South Yemen (1967-1979), Zanzibar (?-1890), and Zanzibar (1911-1964). (Many of these have unofficial lyrics, and several more had wordless melodies at one time, but lyrics have since been written. Others, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, are in the process of adopting lyrics.)
Are national anthems copyrighted?
Most anthems are in the public domain due to the age of the song/lyrics or by legislation making national symbols copyright-free, however, individual composers can still arrange a national anthem and record it, and the recording of their arrangement is under copyright protection. Several countries also forbid parody versions of the national anthem. Copyrighted performances may be performed for non-profit educational purposes under “fair use” (or fair dealing), but for clear answers on your particular situation, it is best to consult a copyright lawyer in your own country (which we are not).

Please note that permission has been granted for all the anthems on this site to be used by anyone for any purpose (except the handful marked © to various individuals, noted above) for either educational non profit or commercial for profit.

What is the best national anthem?
This is a very subjective thing to judge, and pretty much hinges on how you define “best”. (You may have seen in magazines or websites where they list, for example, “The Ten Best Songs of Rock and Roll”, and you would inevitably disagree with their picks (or each list has different picks), mainly because it depends on personal taste.) Some good criterion for what makes an anthem good are that it should be stirring and simple, while encapsulating how natives and the world view the country, as well as easy to sing. Keep in mind, that this is a very unscientific and somewhat arbitrary answer to a hard-to-answer question. This is why (despite occasional false claims to the contrary) no anthem has ever been awarded the “best” anthem. The best answer to what the “best” national anthem is, of course, is the one held most dear by the listener.
What is the name for the study of national anthems?
There actually doesn’t exist a formal name for the study of anthems. The primary site editor prefers the term “anthematologist” for someone who is a serious researcher of anthems (the study of which he has termed “anthematology”), and “anthemist” for someone who is a less-serious student of anthems, but enjoys them. (Somewhat like the difference between “numismatist” for one who actively pursues coin and bill collecting, and “coin collector” for one who just keeps interesting specimens of coins and bills they encounter in a box.)
What are the different types of national anthems?
While studying national anthems, it has been noticed that many national anthems have similar characteristics, either in the style of music, in their history, or both. Six categories have been identified and named, based on the part of the world where they occur, as well as some examples of some countries that use these types of anthems:

  • Latin American epic anthems: Possibly the easiest to identify, these are found in Latin American (Spanish-speaking Central and South America) countries and tend to be rather long, have an epic quality in the music, often containing both a quick, patriotic section of music, and a slower, stately part, and consists of many verses, usually chronicling the history of the country. Many are also composed by Italians (or other Europeans). They also tend to have a similar history in that they are usually written for another piece of music, but later the music is replaced but the original words are kept. In many cases, all the verses are official and, whether or not all verses are often sung in the country or not, children are expected to memorize the entire anthem in school in some of these countries. Examples include Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Uruguay.
  • Western ode: The oldest type of anthem, originating in Europe and common to European monarchies and their former colonies, they are stately and smooth in music style. Examples include Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
  • Pacific hymn: Perhaps a subset of the “Western ode”, many countries in the Pacific have adopted as the music of their national anthem either a church hymn or folk song from a former (or current) colonial master, and applied new words to it for their national anthem. Examples include Fiji, Pitcairn Islands, and Micronesia.
  • European march: Often used by non-monarchical European nations, and often by socialist nations, and/or nations born in revolution, these anthems are in a march style and often speak of war. Examples include France, USSR (1922-1944), and USSR (1944-1991).
  • Eastern Folk: Anthems that are reminiscent of the “national style” of music, often adapted from folk music, and sometimes utilize native instruments. Examples include Japan, India, Kenya, eSwatini, and Senegal.
  • Arab fanfare: Common to states in the Persian Gulf (usually sheikhdoms, emirates, or otherwise ruled by royalty) at one point in their history, these are short anthems consisting of little more than a fanfare and flourish. They often have no words as well. Examples include Bahrain, Kuwait (1961-1978), and Iraq (?-1958).
Are there any countries that use the same anthem as another country?
Again, you would be surprised at how many nations do fall into this category. There are many different examples on this site, some examples as well as classification are:

What is proper protocol regarding national anthems?
Anthem protocol varies from country to country. Some countries have laws regulating respect for the anthem, some don’t. Here is a partial list of some of the various anthem regulations in the world, followed by general guidelines to follow, regardless of the country you happen to live in.

  • Thailand: In Thailand, the anthem is played at 8:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening every day, to respect the country and the sovereign. Sometimes the national anthem would come on in the middle of a television broadcast and patriotic images are shown, the anthem is given top priority. In movie theatres, patriotic images are shown between the trailer and main feature, and the royal anthem is played. In all these situations, standing and observing silence is mandated.
  • Myanmar: It is customary for the singers of the anthem to give a slight bow at the conclusion of their performance, as a sign of respect to the nation and anthem.
  • United Kingdom and the Commonwealth: God Save the Queen must be played for Her Majesty the Queen or other members of the Royal Family. Governors-General of Commonwealth countries are to be honoured by a salute, consisting of an abbreviated version (usually the few beginning bars and the few ending bars) of the national anthem of their own country. (See the page for Australia for an example of this.)
  • Denmark: Inside Denmark, the Royal Anthem is played only when royalty is present and is usually followed by the National Anthem. (Thanks to Gerrit van de Ruitenbeek for this information)
  • New Zealand: Addressing New Zealand’s unique situation of having two official anthems, “God Save the Queen” is to be played at occasions where a member of the Royal Family is present or loyalty to the crown is stressed, where “God Defend New Zealand” is to be played where the national identity of New Zealand is addressed. There are no regulations as to whether English or Maori language versions are to be performed, and to which order, yet common practice says that if the first verse is sung in Maori, it should be repeated in English.
  • Kazakhstan: Upon adoption of the new anthem in early 2006, a law was also passed “obliging everyone to stand and press the palm of their right hand to the left side of their chest when the national anthem is performed in public” (as reported by Radio Free Europe: Radio Liberty).

As stated before, this is just a small list of the various codes regarding anthem etiquette around the world. General rules should follow the above, as they seem to be universal. In addition, some other helpful guidelines are:

  • When multiple anthems are to be performed (such as honouring a visiting dignitary or sporting team from another country), the host nation’s anthem is usually performed last.
  • In Western countries, men are traditionally required to remove their hat during the playing of the anthem, but ladies generally are not. (This is due to the centuries-old notion that a woman’s hat is part of her outfit, while a man’s is an accessory to it.)
  • It is not absolutely necessary to sing along to the anthem (especially if you don’t know the words, although most anthem lyrics are on this site!)
  • Any national anthem, whether of your own or of another nation, should be treated equally (that is, one should stand up for both, or be silent for both, and both should be treated with respect), regardless of your personal feelings toward the other nation. In recent years some groups, especially in the United States have used the playing of the anthem to protest domestic policies and treatment of some citizens. In almost all of these cases, the protest is done in a respectful manner and does not interfere with the more traditional signs of respect those who are not protesting are showing at the same time. Whether one chooses to pay respect by traditional methods, or protest with non-traditional methods – unless prohibited by law – any form of respect should be paid to the anthem as long as it does not interfere with others’ gestures of respect as well.

As stated on the main page of this website, learning about national anthems is a way to learn about other cultures and people, learning about others gives us respect for others, treating another’s anthem the same as you would treat your own demonstrates that respect.