Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world that does not have a history of colonization. The colors of the Ethiopia flag, because of this, have since become known as the Pan-African colors and other countries adopted the same colors when they reached independence. The official Ethiopia flag has three equal horizontal bands of color in the order of green, yellow, and red with green being at the top of the flag. There is a yellow pentagram in the middle of the flag with yellow rays emanating from the pentagram. The pentagram is one a blue disc, once again in the middle of the flag.
The yellow pentagram is actually the symbol of the current government in Ethiopia and has no religious significance as many that know of the Ethiopia flag may think. The pentagram on the blue disc is, in fact, the national coat of arms and is intended to reflect the desire of the nations and people of Ethiopia to live together in unity and harmony. Other governments before the current one had their own identifying figures on the flag in the middle, including the Lion of Judah that the late Emperor Haile Sellassie had on the flag. The coat of arms has changed with government change, but the color scheme of the flag always has remained the same.
The plain tricolor flag was the most widespread flag in the history of Ethiopia. This version of the Ethiopia flag, despite simply being the base of the current flag, is simple to manufacture and distribute. This makes it the flag of choice for supporters of Ethiopia as you will often see them waving or showing the simple tricolor flag instead of one with the center emblem intact. This does not appear to have any political significance but is, rather, the notion of cost of production meeting the widespread production of the flag to the masses.
The flag with the center emblem does appear on all current government documents in Ethiopia and anything to do with ceremonies or government proceedings. In courtrooms and any governmental agencies, the full Ethiopia flag will clearly be displayed. From buildings or homes, however, of the citizens the flag may be flown without the center emblem in place. The Ethiopians are very proud of their flag and display it with honor and pride in a variety of locations.