So, you’ve decided to start your own country. The question becomes, where is your new micronation going to exist? Here are some suggestions.
- Outer Space– Turns out there’s a lot of space in outer space. You could claim some or all of one of our system planets, an asteroid, one of the many extra-solar planets, or the inky void itself. There are some international treaties that might interfere with this, but those won’t really be put to the test until someone gets up there and tries it. So, buy some Tesla stock and go for broke.
- Islands– There are a bunch of islands out there with no permament human population. These have often been targets of opportunity for aspiring nation builders. So much so, that the established nations keep a pretty close eye on them nowadays. Still, the remoteness of isalnds give their inhabitants a certain amount of de facto sovereignty, and just because other bids for island independence haven’t failed, doesn’t mean that your won’t succeed.
- The Oceans– This is not choosing a some desert isle out there. This is living on the ocean waves themselves. The (still largely theoretical) practice of living permanently on the oceans is called seasteading. While living on what would essentially be a super-sized houseboat would not satisfy some of the criteria of the Montevideo Convention, it does give you some of the greatest chances for de facto sovereignty. After all, if the locals are hassling you, you can just move.
- Sunken Continents– A sunken continent or land is territory that has either been submerged under the sea, or while close to the surface never really crested the waves. While the theorized continent of Lemuria was thought to be this, it turns out that Lemuria didn’t actually exist, which makes it more a mythical land (see below.) These have a lot of potential for aspiring nation founders- at least those with access to marine earth-moving equipment.
- Former Nations– For those micronationalists with a historical bent, you might consider taking up the banner of a former country. There are a lot of them, many with a rich history. Why should it all go to waste simply because some people have a difference of opinion over whether the Byzantine Empire is still ‘viable’?
- Mythical Lands– For that matter, why confine yourself to the historic? Many facsinating lands and people exist in the realms of myth, legend, and fiction. People often get into micronationalism for utopian reasons, so why not just go ahead and create your own Utopia?
- Disputed Territories– While established nations are usually quite good about maintaining and policing their borders, this can break down when those border are disputed with another established nation. Sometimes both countries claim a spot of land, but neither side occupies it for strategic reasons. Sometime, when new treaties are drawn up, some sliver of land gets left out. Many insanely ambitious micronationalists take advantage of this opportunity and proclaim the independence of the territory in dispute. Their success, and survival rate, is….mixed.
- Current Nations– In 1859, a fellow by the name of Norton proclaimed himself to be Emperor of the United States. He didn’t invent a new country. He didn’t go off and find some uninhabited spot of land. He simply saw and existing nation, and thought to himself, “I can to do better.” You can do that to. You might not get anyone else to recognize your claim, but that can’t and shouldn’t stop you from making it. How others handle it is their problem.
- Inner Space– But why do you even need land to begin with? At least at the start? A nation, after all, is more than simple territory. It is culture, national ideals, anthems and flags. It is a set of commemorative stamps. So why not start with that? Some of the most notable micronations out there started with a declared territory of someone’s bedroom.
- Internet– In a sense, all current countries, whether established or micro-, at least partially inhabit this space. An internet presence is considered by many an essential part of a micronation’s identity. It is the main way they interact with the world, and with other micronations. This is so true that you might say that the true iconoclast, the true rebel, alternative micronation, would have no internet presence whatsoever. Maybe this micronation, or many of them, already exist. But since they’re not on the internet, I don’t know about them.
I’m going to be honest with you. I have no idea how to write a ‘Top 10 Micornations’ article. How do you even measure that? The ones with the most territory claimed? The one with the least. The most famous, the most notorious? The ones currently active today, or throughout history?
Also, this is certainly not a unique concept to me. There are many other top lists of micronations. Like these:
- History’s Strangest Micronations
- 25 Most Uniquely Interesting Micronations On The Planet
- The Top 10 Most Powerful Micronations (Relatively Speaking)
- Top 10 Bizarre Micronations
- Top 10 Most Famous Micronations
- And here’s just a list of micronations from Wikipedia. Revel in the completeness.
So, here’s another list of ten micronations. Are they the top ones? Sure. Why not?
Ten Micronations (That are probably tops)
Westartica, formerly the Grand Duchy of Estartica, formerly the Protectorate of Westartica, formerly the Achaean Territory of Antartica, claims land in Antartica, specifically Marie Byrd Land (defined as defined as all land south of 60° S and between 90° W and 150° W), and a few nearby islands. They basis this claim on a supposed loophole in international law that left this bit unclaimed by the major countries. While no major country has acknowledged this claim, it is a popular loophole, and has been used by a number of other micronational projects, including the infamous Dominon of Melchizedek. Westartica, and its ruler Grand Duke Travis McHenry, currently bill themselves as ‘advocacy through occupation’, stating their goal with the micronation is to draw attention to the environmental issues of Antartica. Their website may be found here.
A self-described ‘tongue in cheek’ secession movement, The Conch Republic was a response to frustation with local government. The territory declared its independence in 1982, and claimed the city of Key West, Florida. The territory currently claimed is variable. There is a yearly Independence Day celebration, and has become a party of the local tourism industry. The national mindset can best be described as ‘laid back.’
Kingdom of Ladonia
Ladonia was borne of Man’s two great motivators: the need to create art, and the need to sue people. The country was founded by the artist Lars Vilks, who built a monumental wooden sculpture ‘Nimis’ (‘Too Much’ in Latin) in the Kullaberg nature reserve in north-west Skåne, Sweden, in 1980. Because it was built in such a remote and innaccessible location, the Swedish authorities didn’t actually find out about the sculpture until about two years later. After they did find out about it, they declared the sculpture to be a building (to be fair, it was big and made of wood), and took Mr Vilks to court.
Over a decade of legal battles ensued, during the course of which Lars Vilks declared the independence of the Kingdom of Ladonia. The Swedish government was unable to really enforce their claims over their own territry, giving his claim some de facto, if not de jure, legitimacy.
Ladonia is a popular micronation, with over 17,000 citizens (none of whom live in the territory claimed). It has a some rather whimsical national characteristics (the national language only has two words), as befits a nation founded by an artist, and that I personally find quite appealing.
The Kingdom of Ladonia is still going strong today, despite some trouble with arsonists (as can be expected with a country based upon the erection of large wooden sculptures.)
If the Kingdom of Ladonia can be considered an ‘artistic’ micronation, then the Kingdom of Redonda may be considered a ‘literary’ micronation. It’s founder was the author MP Sheil, and many of its peers were early to mid 20th Century writers and poets. The details of its formation may have been a literary invention of Mr Sheil themselves. And, like any good story, there are multiple versions of it, with many current conflicting claims to kingship over the small, uninhabited, Caribbean isle.
From the artistic, to the literary, to the flat-out fraudulent. The Dominion of Melchizedek was started in 1990 by Mark Pedley, and has lent its name to banking fraud, passport fraud, and a whole host of other malfeasance. They are listed in the anti-scam website Quatloos! They are, quite frankly, a disgrace to micronations, and the less said about them the better.
I have some sympathy with these guys. Back in the early 70’s, they wanted to form a libertarian nation, a ‘libertopia’. I get that. I understand that. But they went at with a fatal combination of arrogance, naivete, and an unwillingness to fight for what they claimed. Their desires wrote checks their stomachs (and stomachs for fighting) could not cash. The whole sordid history may be found here.
Ah, Sealand. It may not be the oldest micronation, but it is one of the longest continuing micronations, and certainly one of the most well know. Started by Rory Bates on an abandoned WWII era offshore platform in 1965. It has survived fire, fame, the internet, and German businessmen. It’s political and commercial practices are still the model for a number of more recent micronations.
While other micronations may make more of a splash in the news, and others may have a more dramatic history, the Republic of Molossia is a great example of what most micronations can achieve. It’s a small operation, nothing grandiose, and while it is definitely done with a great deal of flair, there’s nothing extravagantly expensive about it. It’s a fun well-done hobby, that more micronations could learn lessons from.
Free Republic of Liberland
The Free Republic of Liberland does not lack ambition. founded by ‘ Czech right-libertarian politician and activist Vít Jedlička‘, Liberland claims territory currently disputed by both Serbia and Croatia. They are explicitly billing themselves as a libertarian nation, and while their politics may drift a bit too much in vulgar libertarianism for my taste, I do admire the general thrust of their ideals, and their moxie. Still, They are messing with the borders of two countries not known for having a tolerant sense of humor, in a region of the world with very little chill. So good luck and don’t get shot?
The Principality of Hutt River is an Australian micronation, claiming a small part of Western Australia. Founded in 1970 over a dispute involving wheat quotas, Hutt River has evolved into a family affair, issuing a number of attractive coins, stamps, and other State paraphernalia. Another nice success story for the micronation community.
Did I miss your favorite micronation? Let me know in the comments.
John L Robinson (1976-2097)
Place of Birth: Montgomery, Alabama
John L Robinson, died yesterday due to complications with his cybernetic implants. He was 120.
John was born in the 20th Century, in Montgomery, Alabama. Oldest son of Marileta and Patrick Robinson, He is survived by his two brothers, Ben and Ted, and his adoring family.
John attended college at the University of Alabama, where he was a member of the Mallet Assembly. After college, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina. It was there that he discovered his love of podcast and video work, producing a number of audio and video pieces. After that, he worked in a variety of professions, most notably that of a home health aide, before becoming a full time artist and media personality.
John will be remembered as a kind man, and a staunch advocate for individual freedom and civil liberties. While many of the artistic creations he was known for are still quite controversial, they are evidence of a fierce and creative spirit, the influence of which will endure for a long time to come.
I was going to write a really long, involved post about how to start your own country. Honest. But it turns out that a lot of people have already written a lot of great stuff on how to start your own country. So for the purposes of brevity and intellectual honesty, I’ll just link to them and provide some commentary.
Instructions and Resources for Starting Your Own Country
- Wikihow Article on How to Start Your Own Country– Short, sweet, and it has pictures.
- A Video on Starting Your Own Country from Seeker Daily– A good, succinct overview of the steps needed, and some of the modern micronations.
- BBC Comedic Documentary on Starting a Micronation– I haven’t seen it, but I suspect this will be in the ‘what not to do’ column.
- A PDF of the book, ‘How to Start Your Own Country’, by Erwin S. Strauss.– I read this book about 20 years ago, from the old Loompanics mail-order book company. It’s what got me interested in micronations in the first place. A great read.
And, as a bonus….
So, those are the resources I have for starting your own country. Did I miss anything? Any that you’d care to suggest? Please let me know in the comments.
I like starting countries. Countries that can be started by someone like me, as opposed to a covert CIA mission with the intention of destabilizing a regime that they don’t like, is usually called a micronation.
Micronations can be quite easy to start, depending on how much effort you want to put into it, and how much satisfaction you want to get out of it. Five minutes of MS paint for a flag and an ability to make a Facebook page or a Twitter handle gives you the most basic sketch of a micronation. But many people put a lot of time, money, blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice a tremendous amount of pride into the construction of their micronations. So why? Why make a micronation?
Top 10 Reasons to Start Your Own Country
- Fun– Heck, that’s the reason to do most things! Micronationing can be loads of fun. You can make up your own holidays, issue official pronouncements, have an excuse to wear silly hats, make your friends compete for ambassadorships through drinking contests, appoint your dog first minister of barking, all sorts of stuff. Your micronation can be as silly, and as fun, as you want it to be.
- Art– There is a lot of art, and opportunities for artistic creation, in a country. Flags, great seals, postage, uniforms, someone has to design that for ‘established’ countries, so why not take the plunge creativiely and design that stuff for your own country. Don’t worry about competing with some imagined standard of other countries. One of the great things about creating your own micronation is establishing your own aesthetic. And don’t feel constrained to the traditions and sensibilities of those established countries, either. It’s your country- use it how you want. Write laws in haiku. Make your constitution a sonnet. Maybe the great seal is a collage, and the flag glitch art. Go wild.
- Merchandising– After you’ve gone wild, slap it on a t-shirt. Micronations can be interesting merchandising and commercial opportunities. Besides the obvious (flags on t-shirts, great seals on trucker hats, etc.), another neat thing to look into is titles. If your micronation has some sort of royal or aristocratic flavor, you could sell noble titles and ranks to people (or at least, sell pieces of paper suitable for framing.) On top of all that, sufficiently ambitious micronations might sell actual services to customers and clients. Oganizations like Bitnation are set up to help you do just that.
- Philosophical- Very few people are what might be called well-adjusted with the world. This can be considered a good thing- ‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.‘ But that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes the world, society, the normal way of doing things, just doesn’t make sense. For those times, having your own country, where things do make sense, might be a good release. Many micronations have been started for the purpose of symbolically saying, “Okay, you can keep the crazy out there. This place is for sane stuff.”
- Learning– Political science can be a fascinating subject. Especially DIY political science. Going through the process of creating your own is a great way to learn about monarchies, parliments, federal republics, and all the other systems of governments out there (it’s also good for learning how many different types are out there. It’s crazy.) When done with a group, it’s also a great way to learn the in and outs, advantages and disadvantages, behind lots of governmental policies and procedures. This is the basis for ‘Model UNs’ and the like in schools.
- Obsolescence– History doesn’t end. People like to think it does, or will, but it doesn’t. Things change. Among those things that change are governments, and our concepts of government. The modern notion of the nation-state didn’t really come about until the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. the modern notion of Democracy hasn’t only came on the scene a couple of centuries ago for most of the world, and the Democracy we have in America today is radically different from our original kind. All of this is to say that our notion of what a country is, what a ‘legitimate’ country is, and what they do, can change radically, practically overnight. Maybe you have a better system. Maybe you have the better governmental mousetrap, maybe not. What is certain is that the present system won’t last forever. IT will change, and sooner than we think. So….what comes next?
- Companionship– Micronations can be a solitary exercise. You can definitely create an Empire of One if you want to. The thing is, you don’t have to. All the reasons given here can be enhanced by making it a group effort.
- Survival– People are terrorized, oppressed, and expoited around the world every day. Often this is because a government is indifferent to their plight, or is actively hostile towards them. When this happens groups of people often band together to form their own unoffical governments to provide the services that the established government can’t or won’t. These can range from anything to a judiciary, a self-defense force, or a medical services.
- Attention to cause– Cause advocacy often involves getting as much attention for your cause as you can. Declaring your own nation in support of the cause, whether it be economic, political, or environmental, can be an innovative and effective way of getting that attention. The serinousness and symbolism of your new country can be as much as you like and as is needed for the cause in question.
- Resistance– Sometimes, the wrong people get into power. Forming a new country or government in response to those wrong people is a tried and true tactic of politics. This might be a government in exile outside of the established country in question, or a ‘shadow government’ within. Unless you are planning armed opposition (a messy prospect I would not usually recommend) These micronation can still act as an organized and constant critique and dissent against the established country.
Okay, so it’s only the 13th. Let’s see what my life is like right now.
- I need to spend $2500 to get my car up and running again. That’s about what the car is worth. This is still my best option.
- I don’t have a location for the art show in July yet.
- I haven’t written a damned word on Path of the Black Flag this year, yet. Not a sausage.
- I’m sick with a cold.
- I’ve scheduled a rehearsal for The 2nd Judgment this Sunday.
So….not a great start? Could be worse?
“There is no peace now, and there will never be peace, so long as one rules over another.” – Voltairine de Cleyre
“The border between the Real and the Unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place where rival gangs of shamans fought each other to a standstill.” – Robert Anton Wilson
“My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others!” – Marquis de Sade
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams
“Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.” – Terry Pratchett
“Talent was not rare; the ability to survive having it was.” – Neal Stephenson
“Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.”- Ayn Rand
“Too much is always better than not enough.” – JR ‘Bob’ Dobbs
In case you were wondering, this is what I looked like as a kid.
Old Pictures of Me
All three of us by the treehouse our dad built for us in the back of our property. It was a sweet gesture, but I was an utter wuss as a kid, and didn't like being in something with that many bugs in it.
Christmas presents of karate uniform pajamas. I'm ready for action, Ben is dancing I believe, and Ted....I'm not sure what Ted is doing.
This was our cousins' treehouse. A very big deal for an 8 year old without a Nintendo.
The lemures, also known as larvae, were the restless and malignant dead of Roman mythology. They are similar to the modern idea of the ghost. The Romans had an annual holy day for the lemures, known as Lemuria, or Lemuralia. The holiday was designed to appease the spirits of the restless dead (usually with beans), and filing that scaring them away (usually by banging pots together.) It was sort of their Halloween, if Halloween as incredible sedate and boring.
Next up in the story of Lemuria is the 18th naturalist Carl Linnaeus, known as the ‘Father of Modern Taxonomy.’ He developed a modern system for naming organisms, called binomial nomenclature (homo sapien, felix domesticus, etc.) He coined the name lemur for the small primates native to Madagascar, due to his observations that they were mainly nocturnal and slow moving, like the Roman conception of the lemure. It has sometimes been said that the primates were named after lemures because they were as creepy as ghosts when you shined a light on them at night, but this is evidently not the case (lemurs, with their shining eyes, are still spooky however.)
This leads us to the 19th century, in which scientists had a problem. They knew that animals weren’t just plunked down on the Earth willy nilly. They knew that animals species tended to be found in regions, and that if you went from one region to another, especially to another continent, you would tend to find a different species. But here was the problem- there were a number of species in the South Pacific that seemed to be bucking this trend. They were too closely related, yet too widely separated by being on different continents and islands. So, either someone was plunking down animals will nilly, or there was some hidden way for those widely separated to be connected.
Nowadays, we know the answer to this problem is plate tectonics- those widely separated places weren’t widely separated in the past. But plate tectonics is a 20th century idea, and they didn’t know about it in the 19th, and thus needed another explanation. They one they came up with was a hypothesized sunken continent connecting all these places when it was above water, then disappeared as it sank. Because Madagascar was supposed to be a former peak of this continent, this hypothetical land was called Lemuria, after the lemurs of Madagascar.
This is where the story gets differently interesting. I won’t say more interesting, because I find Roman mythology, word etymology, and the history of science to be pretty damned interesting in their own rights. But it does get interesting in other ways now.
Helena Blavatsky was a 19th century occultist, and might reasonably considered to be the ‘Mother of the New Age Movement‘. Anything dealing with Atlantis, Lemuria, crystals or other such woo in today’s popular culture can usually trace an inspiration back to her writings. She wrote that Lemuria was a lost continent, and home to one of Humanity’s ‘root races’. Writers such as Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, Lin Carter, and Richard E Shaver took her ideas and ran with them. A full list of uses of Lemuria in popular culture may be found here.
So there it is. Lemuria, land of ghosts and high weirdness. My kind of place.