is a micronation?
A micronation (aka cybernation, fantasy country, model country,
new country project, pseudonation, counternation, ephemeral state, online nation,
and variants thereof) is an entity intended to exist on equal footing with recognized
independent states, replace, resemble, or mock. Some micronations are created
with serious intent, while others exist as a hobby or stunt. For the most part
they exist only on paper, on the internet, or in the minds of their creators and
small number have also managed to achieve some degree of recognition. When they
do, they converge to some degree with other organising paradigms that offer, or
seem to offer, political or infrastructural independence of some sort.
generally have a number of common features:
They may have a form and structure similar to established sovereign states, including
territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens.
Such nations are often quite small, in both their claimed territory and claimed
populations - although there are some exceptions to this rule.
Micronations may issue formal instruments such as postage stamps, coins, banknotes
and passports, and confer honours and titles of nobility.
criteria which distinguishes micronations from imaginary countries, eco-villages,
campuses, tribes, clans, sects, and residential community associations, is that
these latter entities do not usually seek to be recognized as sovereign. The Montevideo
Convention was one attempt to create a legal definition distinguishing between
states and non-states. Some micronations meet this definition, while some do not.
study of micronations and microstates is termed micropatrology, and the
hobby of establishing and operating micronations is known as micronationalism.
Small, generally recognised states such as Fiji, Monaco and San Marino are sometimes
referred to by some as micronations; these countries are more properly referred
to as microstates.
19th century saw the rise to prominence of the nation-state concept, and the earliest
recognizable micronations can be dated to that period. Most were founded by eccentric
adventurers or business speculators, and several were remarkably successful. These
include the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, ruled by the Clunies-Ross family, and Sarawak,
ruled by the "White Rajas" of the Brooke family; both were independent personal
fiefdoms in all but name, and survived until well into the 20th century.
successful were the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia (1860-1862) in southern
Chile and Argentina, and the Kingdom of Sedang (1888-1890) in French Indochina.
The oldest extant micronation to arise in modern times is the Kingdom of Redonda,
founded in 1865 in the Caribbean. It failed to establish itself as a "real" country,
but has nonetheless managed to survive into the present day as a unique literary
foundation with its own king and aristocracy - although it is not without its
controversies; there are presently at least four competing claimants to the Redondan
Harman, owner of the UK island of Lundy in the early decades of the 20th century
issued private coinage and postage stamps for local use. Although the island was
ruled as a virtual fiefdom, its owner never claimed to be independent of the United
Kingdom, so Lundy can at best be described as a precursor to later territorial
1960s and 1970s saw a micronational renaissance, with the foundation of a number
of territorial micronations. The first of these, Sealand, was founded in 1967
on an abandoned World War II gun platform in the North Sea, and has survived into
the present day. Others were based on schemes requiring the construction of artificial
islands, but only two are known to have risen above sea level.
Island was a 400 sq metre platform built in international waters off the Italian
town of Rimini, in the Adriatic Sea in 1968. It is reported to have issued stamps,
minted currency and declared Esperanto to be its official language. Shortly after
completion however it was destroyed by the Italian Navy.
Republic of Minerva was set up in 1972 as a libertarian new country project by
Nevada businessman Michael Oliver. Oliver's group conducted dredging operations
at the Minerva Reefs, a shoal located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji. They
succeeded in creating a small artificial island but their efforts at securing
international recognition met with little success and near-neighbour Tonga sent
a military force to the area and annexed it.
April 1, 1977, bibliophile Richard Booth, declared the UK town of Hay-on-Wye an
"independent republic" with himself as its king. The town has subsequently developed
a healthy tourism industry based on literary interests, and "King Richard" (whose
sceptre consists of a recycled toilet plunger) continues to dole out Hay-on-Wye
peerages and honours to anyone prepared to pay for them.
activities were disproportionately common throughout Australia in the final three
decades of the 20th century. The Hutt River Province Principality started the
ball rolling in 1970, when Prince Leonard (born Leonard George Casley) declared
his farming property independent after a dispute over wheat quotas. 1976 witnessed
the creation of the Province of Bumbunga on a rural property near Snowtown, South
Australia, by an eccentric British monarchist named Alex Brackstone, and a dispute
over flood damage to farm properties led to the creation of the Independent State
of Rainbow Creek in northeastern Victoria by Tom Barnes in 1979. In New South
Wales, a political protest by a group of Sydney teenagers led to the 1981 creation
of the Empire of Atlantium, and a mortgage foreclosure dispute led George and
Stephanie Muirhead of Rockhampton, Queensland to secede as the Principality of
Marlborough in 1993.
another Australian secessionist state came into existence on 1 May 2003, when
Peter Gillies declared the independence of his 66 hectare northern New South Wales
farm as the Principality of United Oceania after an unresolved year-long dispute
with Port Stephens Council over Gillies' plans to construct a private residence
on the property Ref United Oceania.
hobbyists received a significant boost in the mid 1990s when popularization of
the Internet gave them the ability to promote their activities to a global audience.
As a result the number of online and fantasy micronations expanded dramatically.
The majority were based in English-speaking countries, however a significant minority
the present day six main types of micronations are prevalent:
Social, economic or political simulations.
Exercises in personal entertainment or self-aggrandizement.
Exercises in fantasy, creative fiction or artistic expression.
Vehicles for the promotion of an agenda.
Entities created for fraudulent purposes.
Historical anomalies and aspirant states.
Social, economic or political simulations
Micronations of the first type tend to be fairly serious in outlook, involve sometimes
significant numbers of relatively mature participants, and often engage in highly
sophisticated, structured activities that emulate the operations of real-world
nations. Good examples include:
Roma, a group with a worldwide membership of over 1000 that has minted its own
coins, and which engages in real life Roman-themed re-enactmnents. Talossa, a
two-decade old political simulation with its own invented language. Nova
Roma makes this statement concerning its purpose:
are completely serious about our declaration of sovereignty. However, we are also
very realistic and do not expect to function as an actual sovereign nation with
our own territory in the foreseeable future. We look at it in three ways; as a
long-term goal towards which we can reach, as a very convenient way to organize
the administration of Nova Roma (especially given our Roman orientation), and
as necessary for the full and complete restoration of the Religio Romana (since
many religious duties were inherently tied to the State)."
Exercises in personal entertainment or self-aggrandizement.
literally thousands in existence, micronations of the second type are by far the
most common. They are ephemeral and tend to be Internet-based, rarely surviving
more than a few months, although there are notable exceptions. They generally
involve a handful of people, and are concerned primarily with arrogating to their
founders the outward symbols of statehood. The use of grand-sounding titles, awards,
honours and heraldic symbols derived from European feudal traditions and the conduct
of "wars" with other micronations are common manifestations of their activities.
a Monty Pythonesque "interplanetary empire". Tarsicia, a project that has
undergone a mind-boggling series of re-inventions by its teenage creator and currently
claims to be a proto-undersea kingdom Madland, a two-person kingdom "ruled"
by "His Imperial Most Gracious, Glorious and Holy Majesty, King/Emperor Edgard
these types of micronations are almost exclusively the domain of male adolescents
it has been suggested by some that they represent an escapist manifestation of
the desire by their proponents to better control their environment. This remains
an untested thesis.
Exercises in fantasy, creative fiction or artistic expression.
of the third type include stand-alone artistic projects, deliberate exercises
in creative online fiction and artistamp creations. Examples include:
a popular Internet-based project created by Australian artist Liz Stirling.
Upper Yafa, one of an extraordinarily
diverse and entertaining array of micronations invented by prolific New Zealand-based
artistamp producer Bruce Henderson since the early 1970s.
Republic of Howland, Baker and Jarvis, a highly developed web-based alternative
reality project. The nation of NSK - Neue Slowenische Kunst, a nation created
by a number of Slovene artists, among them Laibach. In the 1948 Margaret
Rutherford / Stanley Holloway movie Passport to Pimlico, the London Borough
of Pimlico supposedly declares independence from Britain and becomes a micronation.
4. Vehicles for
the promotion of an agenda.
types of micronations are typically associated with a political or social reform
agenda. Some are maintained as media and public relations exercises, and examples
of this type include:
"global state" of Waveland, established on the UK island of Rockall by Greenpeace
protesters in 1997. The Conch Republic, which began in 1982 as a tongue-in-cheek
economic protest by residents and business owners in the Florida Keys. The
Kingdom of Anse-Saint-Jean, started to promote tourism in a small Quebec town.
The Freie Republik Wendland, founded 1980 as part of a campaign to prevent
the construction of a nuclear waste disposal facility in Gorleben, northern Germany.
5. Entities created
for fraudulent purposes.
that most people are inculcated with an unquestioning respect and obedience for
governments and their symbols from an early age it is probably not surprising
that certain unscrupulous individuals have sought to derive personal financial
benefit from the gullible by establishing micronational entities that have a fraudulent
known of these, the Dominion of Melchizedek (possibly named after the Biblical
figure Melchizedek) was created in 1986 by a father-and-son team of confidence
tricksters named Evan David Pedley and Ben David Pedley (the latter also known
as David Korem) to sell fraudulent banking licenses. Melchizedek, which is supposedly
an "ecclesiastical constitutional sovereignty", claims a number of territories,
including Taongi Atoll, Malpelo Island, Karitane Shoal, Solkope Island, Clipperton
Island and a large slab of Antarctica. Some of these are underwater, while others
are territories administered by legitimate nations, amongst them France and Fiji.
According to John Shockey, former special assistant, U.S. Comptroller of the Currency,
in an address to the 4th International Financial Fraud Convention in London, May
27, 1999: "The Dominion of Melchizedek is a fraud, a major fraud, and not a legitimate
sovereign entity. Persons associated with the Dominion of Melchizedek have been
indicted and convicted of a variety of crimes."  (http://www.quatloos.com/groups/melchiz.htm)
The "government" of Melchizedek is allegedly based in the Australian capital city
of Canberra, where it maintains a post office box address.
micronation called New Utopia, operated by an Oklahoma City longevity promoter
named Prince Lazarus R. Long (born Howard Turney) - and ostensibly a libertarian
new country project - was stopped by a United States federal court temporary restraining
order from selling bonds and bank licenses. New Utopia has claimed for a number
of years to be on the verge of commencing construction of an artificial island
territory located approximately midway between Honduras and Cuba, however the
selected location continues to remain resolutely submerged by the waters of the
Kingdom of EnenKio, which claims Wake Atoll in the Marshall Islands has been deemed
a scam for selling passports and diplomatic papers by the governments of the Marshall
Islands and of the United States.  (http://www.lecour.net/richard/archives/000206.html)
anomalies and aspirant states.
small number of micronations are founded with genuine aspirations to be sovereign
states. Many are based on historical anomalies or eccentric interpretations of
law, and tend to be easily confused with established states. This category includes:
Seborga, an historic
principality located in the Italian region of Liguria, which traces its history
back at least 1,000 years. Beaver Island in Lake Michigan was an unrecognized
Mormon kingdom from 1848 to 1856, until its leader, James Strang, was assassinated
by disgruntled followers. The Republic of Indian Stream, established in 1832
on territory claimed by both the US and Canada. The Hutt
River Province, a farm in Western Australia which claims to have seceded from
Australia to become an independent principality with a worldwide population of
13,000. Sealand, a "sovereign Principality" located on a WWII-era anti-aircraft
platform in the North Sea in what were international waters at the time of its
foundation. These waters are now subject to claims by both Sealand and the United
Kingdom. Sealand is home to HavenCo, a colocation site that advertises that customer
data will be secure "against any legal action." Atlantium,
a "global non-territorial state" claiming citizens in over sixty countries.
types of micronations are usually located in small (usually disputed) territorial
enclaves, generate limited economic activity founded on tourism and philatelic
and numismatic sales, and are at best tolerated or at worst ignored by other nations.
Relevant Sites Footnotes to History (http://www.buckyogi.com/footnotes/)
- Comprehensive list of failed secessionist states, alternative governments and
other historical oddities.
The Imperial Collection
(http://www.imperial-collection.net) - Comprehensive catalogue of
stamps, coins and banknotes issued by secessionist states.