So what actually is a micronation? Is it Andorra? San Marino? No; they are what is known in technical terms as “actually small countries”. Is it Transnistria? Abkhazia? Again, no; these are unrecognized but de facto countries.
Is it Sealand? Yes, it is! A micronation is a “country” made up by a person, or persons that may have aspirations to be a real country one day, but is probably run by an eccentric old fellow that probably dressed in his mum’s clothes when he was a kid. Sound cool? It certainly is, and some of them you can even visit!
5. The Principality of Hutt
Hutt River Province, Australia
The Principality of Hutt River was formed by “Prince” Leonard George Casley on the 21st April 1970. His noble reason was that basically he did not fancy paying tax, and that (apparently) international and commonwealth law gave him the right to secede from Australia. The Principality has since been afforded some kind of official recognition, but generally speaking a fairer representation would be that Australia largely ignore them. As imaginary countries go, tourism is booming – apparently welcoming 40,000 “foreign” tourists a year. Whether Australians count as foreign is anyone’s guess.
4. Freetown – Christiana
If you like your micronations with liberal helpings of class-A drugs, then this is the place for you! As pretend countries go, Christiana is one of the realest, having a population of 850 people and even the imaginatively named “Christiana Law” that gives it a fair level of autonomy. Christiana was formed in 1971 when a group of hippies took over a former military barracks and decided to create a beatnik Utopia. The original foundations of yoga, squatters rights’, and anarchism quickly degenerated into it becoming the best place in Copenhagen to score hash, which inevitably brought the attention of the police. Nowadays there’s less drugs, and it is the 4th most popular tourist attraction in Denmark. They will even stamp your passport.
3. Conch Republic
Florida, United States
Another classic that can not only be visited, but even issue their own passports. Situated in Key West, the “nation” made a very tongue in cheek declaration of independence back in 1982 and declared war on the USA (before immediately being surrounding and asking for aid.) It probably shouldn’t be forgotten that America had invaded Grenada on much shakier grounds a few years before. The nation now lives on as a way to attract tourism when people aren’t busy getting naked during Fantasy Fest. April 23rd is Independence Day, which involves a week-long party.
2. Kingdom of Talossa
Milwaukee, United States
King Robert Ben Madison of Talossa (to give him his full title) made the list because he pretty much invented the term micronation. Back in 1979 a 14-year-old King Bob declared his bedroom independent, and whilst most people grow out of their childhood stuff, his Royal Highness decided to run with it. The nation now claims many properties throughout the world as well as a large part of Milwaukee, although as of now the UN have not got around to recognizing their claim. With 213 citizens and their own language we expect them to eventually be huge players in the micronational tourism industry.
1. Principality of Sealand
The absolute benchmark for setting up a country. Where to start? Sealand was founded on a World War 2 offshore tower by Prince Roy Bates in 1967, a former pioneer of private radio. Their history since then has included an attempted coup by a crazy German, limited recognition from the UK and German governments as well as a very active government in exile. Despite its small size they have their own currency, passports and even athletes representing them in international events (one day we will run tours here).
Bonus Round: Dominion of Melchizedek
What else do you give the conman who has everything? The Dominion of Melchizedek describes itself as an Ecclesiastical Sovereign State “dedicated to upholding the political, social, and economic sovereignty of the Dominion of Melchizedek.” To everyone else, it’s a great scam to sell stuff like imaginary bank charters. The Central African Republic allegedly recognizing their legitimacy, resulting in the amusing statement from a US newspaper that “you get the impression the Central African Republic would recognize the state of denial if it had a letterhead”. Apparently there will be an imminent statement announcing their immediate return to the micronational stage.
Bonus Round: The Sovereign Military order of Malta
As a country, you need many things. A leader, an army, embassies, passports, UN recognition… and these guys have it all. All except one really important thing; a country. The SMOM can legitimately be described as the only country that don’t have a country, having been kicked out of Malta by Napoleon. They retain sovereignty under international law, have UN observer status, and hold extraterritorial land in Rome, which would be the closest one could get to visiting. If they ever take over Malta it would make the country worth visiting.
Fancy founding your own micronation? Get in on our partner project over at Let’s Buy an Island!.