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Micronation

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A micronation is an attempt to start a new nation from scratch. This often takes novel forms, such as plans to create new artificial islands in international waters, occupying an existing abandoned structure in international waters, establishing a colony on Antarctica, declaring that one's personal ranch or property has seceded from its parent nation and is now an independent country, and "virtual" micronations which exist over the Internet.

Micronations are not to be confused with genuine small countries which have real residents and international recognition as nations, such as Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vanuatu, Singapore, the Vatican City, the Pitcairn Islands, Mauritius, etc. — these countries are properly referred to as "microstates." They are also not to be confused with publicity stunts such as the "Conch Republic," a tongue-in-cheek "secession" of Key West, Florida from the United States in 1982 declared by the Key West city council to drum up tourism and protest U.S. Border Patrol activity in the Florida Keys. ("If you're going to treat us like a banana republic, by golly we'll become one!")[1]

Contents

[edit] Typical formation and politics

Micronations exist for a bunch of reasons, quite a few of them overlapping:

  • Cranks and/or geeks with a political motivation, hoping to create LibertyTariaTopiaLand!™ as a protest against tax or drug laws.
  • People who aren't seriously trying to secede, but bring attention to a political or cultural issue.
  • Con artists who mainly use the new "nation" to sell passports, stamps, and coins, often as a tax evasion scheme.
  • Creating a tourist trap, selling passports, stamps, and coins to kitsch connoisseurs.
  • Deluded megalomaniacs who want to declare themselves absolute monarch over something and dress in kingly or princely attire.
  • Exploitation of legal loopholes in a larger country as a proof of concept.
  • Humour.[2]
  • Bored twelve-year-old nerds trying to be funny.

Most micronations have no more actual residents than you can count on one hand. None of them has ever gained legitimate international recognition as a sovereign nation, although a British court ruled in 1968 that the Principality of Sealand was outside of British jurisdiction.

[edit] Examples of micronations

  • The Principality of Sealand: An abandoned British anti-aircraft platform located in international waters near the U.K., and occupied and claimed as an independent nation since 1967. Has the dubious distinction of having undergone a forcible attempted coup.
  • Kingdom of Talossa: A long-running Internet community, created in 1979 by a 14-year-old, that is often credited as the origin of the micronation fad.[3] Its motivation appears to be mostly for lighthearted and humorous purposes, but its residents take it seriously enough to synthesize an entire culture, complete with its own conlang which has a claimed vocabulary of 35,000 words and even its own ISO 639 code, "tzl".[4]
  • Republic of Landovia (sometimes Republic of Grater Landovia): A less successful micronation started by teenagers, it existed ephemerally from ca. 1985-88 with a quasi-military leadership structure. Its claimed territory was the city of Vista, California; it issued small amounts of paper currency called "hotas" and had a written constitution.[citation needed]
  • The Hutt River Principality: a farm in Australia whose owner declared it an independent nation in 1970 after a dispute over wheat quotas with the Australian government. Hutt River is unique among micronations in that it actually does function as a de facto independent state instead of merely claiming to be one; although it lacks a standing army and depends on Australia for military protection, it is otherwise self-sufficient. It lacks international recognition and has few residents, but the fact that none of the residents pay taxes to Australia and the insanely low 0.5% income tax rate in the principality itself have caused it to gain popularity as a tax haven.[5]
  • The Dominion of Melchizedek: a long-running virtual micronation considered by law enforcement to be a mail-order passport and banking fraud scheme. It was founded by an American, Mark Pedley (aka Branch Vinedresser), in 1990, and named after a priest from the Book of Genesis. Through the 1990s it sold fake licences for people wishing to establish companies, including banks; Pedley was changed with parole violations over his actions, while other people have been jailed for using fake checks on banks in Melchizedek; Roger Rosemont set up a Ponzi scheme with a Melchizedek business licence which conned 1400 people into investing a total of $4m.[6]
  • The Embassy of Heaven Church (also known as The Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven): An exceptionally odd example in Oregon, which claims to be independent of the United States, but does not claim sovereignty, instead claiming to be an enclave of God's Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.[7][8] Because they do not recognize any "worldly governments" and proclaim themselves to be literal citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, they issue their own identity documents and license plates. They used to have a compound outside of Stayton, Oregon, but it was seized in 1997 for non-payment of property taxes, despite their claims that it was exempt because it was a "foreign embassy."
  • Freetown Christiania: Located in Copenhagen, this is a rare example of an urban micronation. This hippie commune was founded by squatters and anarchists in a disused army barracks in 1971, and declared itself an independent free town. This legal status is not formally recognised by the Danish government, but the commune's existence has largely been tolerated, and the government has turned a blind eye to the open cultivation and trade of marijuana within its boundaries, until a crackdown in recent years.[9] The closest it has had to any recognition was from the local bus service that added a stop near the old barracks gates, and a listing on the official Copenhagen tourist website[10].
  • The Other World Kingdom: Located in the Czech Republic, this was a resort for submissive male and dominant female BDSM practitioners which opened to visitors in 1997.[11] It was styled as an absolute matriarchal monarchy, with a currency, national anthem and a queen in the form of the resort's owner, Patricia, but of course neither the Czech Republic nor any other entity recognized its sovereignty. As of recent years, the resort has closed and the land put up for sale in 2008. There seems to be a rumor circulating around that the owner was somehow entangled with the Russian mafia.
  • The Republic of Molossia: A small patch of land in the Nevada desert owned by one Kevin Baugh, self-styled President. It began as a childhood joke in 1977 and developed through the 1990s.[12] Baugh is fully in on the joke, and has set up his "country" as a tourist attraction. Notable for the facts that his entire chamber of ministers is made up of himself in various different costumes and that it is "in a state of war with East Germany"[13]. It was once taken over by internet reviewers and renamed Kickassia, until taken back a few days later. Molossia has been personified in the anime Hetalia: Axis Powers in the form of a white zoot suited mobster-like figure.[14]
  • Nation of Celestial Space (also known as Celestia): Founded in 1949 by James Thomas Mangan, claiming all of outer space to ensure no nation established political hegemony there, and banned all atmospheric nuclear tests. Largely ignored by the superpowers, the project's surviving legacy are a number of gold and silver coins that fetch high prices on the collector's market.[15]
  • Republic of Rose Island (Insulo de la Rozoj): Built by Italian engineer Georgio Rosa in 1967, it was an off-shore platform 7 miles (11 km) from Italy's Rimini province, established partly as an engineering experiment and partly as a tax-free drinking den. Complete with several businesses (a bar, restaurant, night club, post office, and souvenir shop), its own currency (but no coinage or notes), and the official language Esperanto, Rosa declared independence in 1968. It was raided by Italian authorities that same year, dynamited by military engineers, and the remains sunk into the Adriatic Sea during a storm.[16]
  • Liberland: Created in 2015 as the brainchild of libertarian Vít Jedlička, who has appointed several ministers of it, it's a small (around 3 square miles of surface) territory in dispute between Croatia and Serbia. The Croatian police have threatened to arrest anyone who lands on it, although Croatia doesn't actually claim the area because accepting it would also require accepting other aspects of the disputed border with Serbia. Its currency is inevitably Bitcoins.[17][18][19]
  • Drivelandia: Formed on the same day as Liberland, mainly to point out Liberland's stupidity and begging for money. Located on small patch of land next to the 3 bed semi detached EU embassy. Extended Universal Suffrage to Felines with most government posts held by a single cat. It seems to be largely dependent on Reddit for publicity.[20]
  • Kingdom of North Sudan: Established in the terra nullius of Bir Tawil between Egypt and Sudan (similar to the situation of Liberland, neither Egypt or Sudan accept the border settlement between the two, and both fear that claiming the territory will be viewed as implicit acceptance of the entire border). It was declared in 2014 by American man Jeremiah Heaton who wanted to create his own country so his daughter could be a princess. Its status as an independent country has been questioned by experts on international law, and although Heaton travelled there in June 2014 to stake his claim, he does not appear to have been back since.[21][22]
  • Kingdom of EnenKio or Enen Kio: Claims sovereignty over Wake Island, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. It sells citizenship for sums from $500 to $10,000, and is judged to be a fraud by anti-fraud website Quatloos.com.[23][24]
  • Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovene Art): Founded in 1984 as a conceptual art project by the Slovenian industrial rock band Laibach, since 1991 this organisation has functioned as a virtual online state, with its own passports, currency, and flag.[25][26] The NSK state is described by NSK itself as "an abstract organism, a suprematist body, installed in a real social and political space as a sculpture comprising the concrete body warmth, spirit and work of its members".[27] "Passports" are available online for a fee of 24 Euro.[28]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. The Conch Republic
  2. The Republic of Whangamomona[wp] being one of the more long-running examples of this genre.
  3. Kingdom of Talossa official website
  4. See the Wikipedia article on Talossa.
  5. See the Wikipedia article on Principality of Hutt River.
  6. See the Wikipedia article on Dominion of Melchizedek.
  7. "Embassy of Heaven". http://www.embassyofheaven.com/. 
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Embassy of Heaven.
  9. See the Wikipedia article on Freetown Christiania.
  10. Alternative Christiania, Visit Copenhagen
  11. See the Wikipedia article on Other World Kingdom.
  12. See the Wikipedia article on Republic of Molossia.
  13. http://www.molossia.org/war/eastgermany.html
  14. Hetalia Archives: Molossia
  15. See the Wikipedia article on Nation of Celestial Space.
  16. When Italy went to war with the esperanto micro-nation Insulo de la Rozoj, Visit Rimini
  17. See the Wikipedia article on Liberland.
  18. Liberland official website: About
  19. The man who created a tiny country he can no longer enter, BBC, 14 November 2016
  20. Secretary of State of Drivelandia adds her voice to recent shenanigans!, Reddit
  21. US father takes unclaimed African kingdom so his daughter can be a princess, Telegraph, 14 July 2014
  22. See the Wikipedia article on Bir Tawil.
  23. See the Wikipedia article on Kingdom of EnenKio.
  24. Kingdom of Enen Kio, Quatloos.com
  25. See the Wikipedia article on Laibach (band).
  26. See the Wikipedia article on Neue Slowenische Kunst.
  27. About Us, NSK
  28. How to get an NSK passport, NSK

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