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Blog > EUROPA's underwater fauna and flora

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By now, most of you will be familiar with the EUROPA stamps initiative that we talk about every May… but this year, we have a special treat for you!

Banners for EUROPA stamps competition, featuring an illustrated octopus

Our diligent interviewer Clarisse (aka CStar9) talked with Agnieszka Trząskowska, Chairwoman of the PostEurop Stamps & Philately Working Group, who answered some questions about the EUROPA stamp program! Here they are to give us more insight into its history and ambitious future.

How would you say EUROPA stamps are connected to the individuality of each European country, and connected also holistically to the character of Europe as a whole? 

The key to understanding the global phenomenon of EUROPA stamps is the European Union motto “Unity in diversity” (dating back to the Middle Ages), celebrating the mixture of different cultures and their integration within the present idea of a so-called common Europe. The idea derives from the thousands-year-old European civilisation, particularly Greek & Roman (the name of EUROPA comes from Latin), and the common ideas, values, history, nature, and cultural traditions that have been developed over subsequent generations.

EUROPA stamps logo

Europeans are proud of their cultural richness. There are 24 EU official languages (143 European languages in total). There is cultural diversity at national, regional and local levels—including hundreds of microcultures from Greenland in the west to Kazakhstan in the east. This tangible and intangible heritage such as nature landmarks, scientific discoveries, ecology, social topics, folklore legends, literature, and arts, is an inexhaustible source of visual inspirations and creative interpretations of the common EUROPA stamp themes.

Behind each of the 56 EUROPA stamps issued every year stands a unique story. EUROPA stamp reveals these unique heritage treasures, boosting mutual understanding and diversity acceptance, building pluralism among Europeans, as well giving us inspiration, motivation for self-development, and a pathway to engage in crucial topics of society.

In addition, non-Europeans may feel like modern-day explorers discovering new worlds of the European heritage with these stamps every year—including allowing nearly half of present Americans to travel to their ancestors’ past. Finally, we believe that EUROPA stamps attract collectors around the world thanks to their universality.

Can you speak to what you see as EUROPA stamps’ role in raising awareness of important issues in Europe?

Besides building national identity, stamps are also part of social dialogue that engages the public in important contemporary issues. Good examples include EUROPA stamp issues themes such as “Nature reserves and parks” (1999), “Water – Natural Treasure” (2001), “Integration through the eyes of Young People” (2006), “Ecology in Europe – Think Green” (2016), and “Endangered National Wildlife” (2021).

What’s on the horizon for the EUROPA stamp world? Anything you’re particularly excited about? Within the Postcrossing community, there are many collectors of EUROPA stamps. Anything you’d like to say to them?

First of all, we would like to thank all collectors and admirers of EUROPA stamps for their commitment and shared passion for each year’s issues. We believe that combinations of EUROPA stamps and postcards may evoke positive emotions and build friendship as part of intercultural dialogue.

As for the present activities, the 2024 EUROPA stamp competition for the theme “Underwater Fauna & Flora” is now open, through 9 September 2024. You are all invited to join the 2024 EUROPA stamp competition!

A mashup of different overlapping postage stamps, all on the theme of underwater fauna and flora

This year, awards for the most beautiful 2024 EUROPA Stamps will be given to three top ranked stamps and the award ceremony will be held at the PostEurop General Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia, in October 2024.

The themes for the next few years have already been chosen by postal operators. In 2025, we’ll have stamps on the topic of “Archaeological discoveries”. As 2026 marks the 70th anniversary of the EUROPA stamp, the PostEurop Stamps & Philately Working Group will hold a competition for a common stamp design motif, the theme of which will be “70th anniversary of EUROPA stamp. United in…”. For 2027, the EUROPA stamps will focus on “Street Art”.


You heard Agnieszka — it’s time to vote on the most beautiful EUROPA stamp of the year!

2024's theme of “Underwater Fauna & Flora” brings us a gorgeous selection of stamps predominantly in blue and green tones, that seem like tiny porthole views out of a submarine cruising the rivers, lakes and seas in Europe. There are fishes, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, nudibranchs and marine mammals, but also algae and seagrass meadows! Do have a look through this year’s stamps, vote, and let us know in the comments below which ones are your favorites! 😍

59 comments so far

Ursula66, Germany

Oh dear, I feel ashamed for Deutsche Post to have the least beautiful stamp. I voted for the Ukraine fish, it has the most beautiful colors. The Norway with the seal playing with jellyfish is extraordinary and yes, every stamp except for the german one has a good motive. Only colored text is very unimaginative.

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SeaSparkle, Germany

When I first saw the German "Europa stamp", I felt that something was off here... After pondering a while on it and trying to understand, over time the most likely seeming explanation was that something must have gone wrong in the process – someone put the "working title" in a "wavy way" on a first sketch of a background, waiting for inspiration...

That's where the process got stuck.

Either that or the "mysterious sea creature" swam away while it got painted. :p ;)

After reading the stamp description in the "Europa competition" I feel now even MORE certain that we only look at the "working title" (not the result – for whatever reason the stamp was never finished, we might never find out).

---

Setting aside this issue, the rest of the stamps are really nice, beautiful and varied – I loved especially the motives of:

Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greenland, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Türkiye and Ukraine.

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HM, Netherlands

Belgium gets my vote

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Indreni, United States of America

So many lovely designs, and all worthy creatures! I like Monaco's and Gibraltar's best!

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indian-summer, Türkiye

Voted for Cyprus – loved the colors and the creature 🪸🪱

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CStar9, United States of America

Wow! These are so amazing. Armenia was a clear favorite for me, but I also loved Serbia.

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Feliz78, United States of America

I voted for the Vatican stamp. It was happy and colorful. It was the one that made me smile!

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jjmedusa, United States of America

I love Europa stamps! And this theme in particular is great! It was difficult for me to choose, but in the end I voted for the stamp from Albania! :)

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ShariLoveFIN, Finland

Most beautiful stamp for me was Norway's playing seal 💖Second place goes to Greece with beautiful sea shell. 💙 Third place goes to San Marino's cute Acsolotl 😊I'd like to give fourth place to Georgia's Dolphine 🐬, fifth to Czech Republic's colourful picture of underwater life and sixth toVatican city's Turtle and the city. And seventh favourite is Austria's underwater view. 💙

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Granja, United States of America

They are all so beautiful and unique. Very hard to choose. In the end, I voted for Ukraine. It just spoke to me.

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Verabrady, United States of America

It didn’t indicate how many I could vote for so I took my chances and picked two.
1) Armenia for its juxtaposition of the colorful eye to the simply drawn fish. The fish does look a bit too sad for my taste though.
2) Isle of Mann for the beautiful mosaic effect.
But so many wonderful stamps-to choose is difficult. Looking forward to seeing the winner(s).

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LovelySunshine3, United States of America

Beautiful

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DianeM, United States of America

Lovely stamps. I voted for Serbia's stamp: water lily.

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jm1122, United States of America

Azerbaijan!

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Pulmu, Finland

Isle of Man (voted) and Poland are my favourites.

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simsalina, Germany

It never felt so easy to pick a winner: Azerbaijan!

It makes me sad to realise that Germany comes up with quite boring/ugly stamps each month. The few pretty ones they designed the past years (the postcrossing stamp for example!) are not available anymore in the Deutsche Post's online shop nor at any post offices. Why not keep a postcrossing stamp in their inventory forever? 😔

Whenever I'm abroad in travel mode, I get to buy stamps that are so much prettier.

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snowflake1, Australia

1st Albania - a healthy & colourful reef.
2nd France - a diverse & bountiful ecosystem.
3rd Norway - seals are so gorgeous and they love having fun.
Wonderful that attention is being placed on these fragile & important interconnected species.

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bloodyWhiteRaven, Germany

Don’t think the German one is the least beautiful. But it’s funny; most those comments about how bad things are in/from Germany come from Germans.
But it general; yes, there could be much better stamps in Germany. Some are really bad and I don’t understand who decide that those designs made it to production.

But here there are a lot stamps that are just boring - in my eyes.

I like the stamp from Switzerland the most. Especially because there is not only one stamp, there are two; and they look beautiful together on a stamp-sheet.

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Demmi, Romania

The blue whale from Azerbaijan is my fav! <3
#EUROPAStamps #Philately
#Myths #Legends

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Robin67, Austria

I have not yet made up my mind. For someone, who would love to be a marine biologist (me) the choice is overwhelming, especially knowing, that (like with the endangered species) I won't even get half of them.

But what I have to say about the Austrian stamp is, that, as pretty as the greens and blues of the "Grüner See" (green lake) look: does Austria not have underwater flora or fauna??? A lake is neither an animal, nor a plant. Again, a missed opportunity to have a fabulous stamp, that is right on point (or 2 even, like some other countries!).

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Mr-Krabs, China

I suddenly found that Chinese stamps show much more content.Chinese stamps have a wide variety of themes, cultural relics, events, cultures, festivals and so on.

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panicz, United Kingdom

My vote is for Monaco's octopus.

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isagv, Germany

Georgia's Dolphine 🐬 is what I choose but there are a lot great ones.

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ajijic, Andorra

Where is ANDORRA CEPT 2024 STAMPS ? 2 issues by Spanish Andorra Correos and French Andorra post, They are beautiful !

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Trans_Niqabi, United States of America

I voted for Georgia but I also loved Gibraltar and Armenia.

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CordulaH, Germany

I voted for Norway. I like the idea of the seal and the fish playing with each other.

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Flippie, Canada

It is Gibraltar this time with the Orca. Oh yes.....

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NerdyUnicorn4, United States of America

So many amazing designs!

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honeyfritter, United States of America

Armenia really had a special one this year Look closely at the reflections in eye of the fish. And the beautiful subtle coloring of the background. A stamp’s image should stand on its own and this one certainly does! Greece was a close second.

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orange_memo, United States of America

I give my vote this year to France, but also close are Germany, Bosnia & Greece.

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TVoyage, Japan

It's so amazing and emotional... !!

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Aguaroble, Lesotho

Very interesting to read all the comments!
My favorites are Cyprus and Lithuania.
Does anyone know why Belarus has officially been expelled from the competition? And where did Iceland go?

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bryyo, Germany

San Marino has the best design for me. It would be more than amazing to see this postage stamp one day on a postcard to me. I'll keep my fingers crossed to see this design at 1st place.

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dutchgranny, Netherlands

it was not easy to vote ....
the funny creature from san marino, the incfish from monaco,
the colours in the design from latvia ...
czech reminds me the schoolillustrations about nature - so much to see,
italy: it was as if you were swimming yourself between the fishes and the turtle ...
and finally I had to choose between the blue whale with diver from azerbaijan and the mozaiec out of isle of man:
I voted finally for the artistic design from isle of man ... blub .... ooOOO
you are my favorite :-)

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MailboxIngrid, Netherlands

They are all beautiful stamps, but the Europe stamp from Italy caught my attention first. So I voted for Italy.

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HookedonPostcards, Canada

Thanks for sharing the details. Interesting!

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13caroline, United States of America

I had to go with the Faroe Island's design. The crispness of the detail was very nice, though there were so many good choices. I didn't realize how many countries were participating in Europa stamps! What a great way to bring people together

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nofrodelius, United States of America

Italy!

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Vagabond_Trader, United States of America

As soon as I saw Azerbaijan's blue whale I knew it was my top already...so I kept waiting for another one to overtake it, had a few other close ones but for me the blue whale reminded me of an illustration in a beautiful children's book. Also I just love whales. Mystical beings they are! ✨ 🐋 ✨

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Ewa_i_Piotr, Poland

I'm from Poland, but I love stamp from Gibraltar. Amazing!

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littleglitterwoman, Germany

Edited because I saw the choice of stamps not in the whole register, at first:

I vote for Slovenia.
And for Isle of Man.

I first thought that the motif of Slovenia's stamp was the poecilopus fish (but it is the Pearl shells).

Isle of Man 's design is also very pretty.

So those 2 get my votes.

Best of luck from an aquarium owner/thus underwater enthusiast!

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Lejo, France

My vote went to Portugal.
I must say the French stamp is also great. I already bought plenty to use on my postcards in the coming weeks.

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mounten, Italy

Amazing Stamp design from all Countries, Norway, Cyprus, Albania, Jersey, Guernsey, Portugal, Ireland, Georgia and Slovenia I like the most, but Italy is my favorite.

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ennov-y, Germany

I voted for Czechia 🐟😊.

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catti, Finland

Portugal is my absolute favorite! But most of them are so lovely, like Ireland, Guernsey, Monaco, Montenegro, Jersey, Cyprus...

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ladymelody, France

Oh wonderful.
San Marino is my favorite 😍 Axolotl my favorite animal after cat.
I hope I have the chance to receive it one day🥰

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Antilopa, Estonia

Jersey, so sunny

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AbstraktesHerz, Germany

German Stamps are SO boring. They always fall short in comparison to all the beautiful designs other countries have to offer. And this is one of the best examples so far. Every time Deutsche Post releases new Stamps I am disappointed again. There are so few beautiful stamps.

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illuru, Russia

First of all, read the description of the Ukrainian stamp!
I voted for Armenia. This stamp is crazy and wonderful (crazy beautiful). My other favorites are the minimalist stamp from Greenland and the delicate stamp from Serbia.

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Mamaduke, Australia

Italy is the one for me. There are others, but Italy gets "the ribbon" for me.

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reiselustig, Germany

Well, I assume my taste is somewhat different... OK , I must admit the whales and dolphins are great, but I like it, if the countries display something they have in their local fauna... I think, that this applies not to all motifs... however I voted finally for Ireland with the white jelyfish. I even do not know why - it somehow touched me... but I think also the portuguese Jellyfish is very impressive!

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betslets, United States of America

It's June 1 and when I turned on my computer I was told it was World Reef Day! And when I checked out the Postcrossing Blog, I found the beautiful stamps listed for Europa's Underwater Flora and Fauna competition. There are so many wonderful choices but I voted for Monaco's octopus in part because it brought back fond memories of my visit to the Oceanographic Museum there. Guernsey's colorful stamp made a nice impression, also, as did so many others.

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ffuesch, Germany

In Germany you can see which stamps will come every new month ca. 2 month before. I always look this up and was looking forward for the underwater stamp. When I finally saw the preview I was very dissappointed ... what went wrong?

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ajijic, Andorra

The most beautiful stamps are from Andorra (Principality) with stamps from 2 different postral administrations !

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CatharinaG3, Netherlands

I voted Switzerland. It's a beautiful stamp, with harmonious colours and an excellent lay-out. I love it!

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Geluk, Netherlands

Its super hard for me, im between Turkiye and Azerbaijan.
I am gonna have to go with Azerbaijan.
There are many nice ones like Finland, Faroe islands and Georgia.
The Polish stamp is also very creative.
I definitely dont like Belgium, Germany, Malta and Lithuania, im sorry.

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Geluk, Netherlands

FYI Chris Campe was the designer for the German issue.
A designer with letters.
https://www.instagram.com/allthingsletters/ here is the Instagram of Chris Campe

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Mirella673, China

All of those stamps look nice, I think it is hard to pick the best one, but finally I decided to vote for Luxembourg.

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