There are 13 stripes on the flag because there were 13 original colonies. We call the American flag “the Stars and Stripes.” For 18 years after the United States became an independent country, the flag had only 13 stripes. In 1794, Kentucky and Vermont joined the United States, and two stripes were added to the flag. In 1818, Congress decided that the number of stripes on the flag should always be 13. This would honor the original states that were colonies of Great Britain before America’s independence.