A Short-Lived Utopia
On 19 January 1972, the libertarian millionaire Michael J. Oliver declared the independence of the Republic of Minerva in the Pacific Ocean. On the reefs he reclaimed from the sea with tons of sand shipped in from Australia, there would be ‘not any form of economic interventionism’. His act was not accepted by Tonga, the rightful owner of the reefs.
Five Years after the Defeat
Five years ago, on 27 October 2017, the Catalan parliament declared independence after 92% of voters backed splitting from the rest of Spain in a referendum Madrid deemed illegal. Immediately after, the Spanish government imposed direct rule, sacked its leaders and dissolved the parliament. Is there any hope left for the separatists?
Early in January 1949 James Thomas Mangan claimed a new nation that was formed by ‘all of outer space’. According to Mangan, no other country should have political hegemony in space and he protested actively against improper use of his territory, asking to ban nuclear tests and space flights. Mangan was praised and ridiculed during his lifetime.
All change in the world begins with something very small
In 2000, Madeiran art teacher Renato de Barros bought this small tip of land, an island and fort in the Funchal harbor of Madeira and he declared independence from Portugal, proclaiming himself Prince of Pontinha. ‘Pontinha means “a point”. All change in the world begins with something very small, and this is my country—just a little point.‘ Check out this new place of the week.
The Neglected Side of the Antarctic
Exactly twenty years ago, one of the world’s largest micronations was founded: the Grand Duchy of Westarctica. In 2001 Travis McHenry found out that ‘no formal claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west’, which inspired him to claim this specific part of land.
French adventurer Antoine de Tounens created this vassal kingdom of France in Patagonia in 1860 but was declared insane and got sent back to France. The Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia is the last remnant to create autonomy for the Mapuche people, the indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina.
An ‘island outside the law’
On 9/11 the focus turns to Guantanamo Bay, the oldest US overseas naval base. It was leased from Cuba in 1903, despite continuous protests of the Cuban government. Since 2002 it was used to detain prisoners from the War on terror, over 750 detainees were being held there. The camp has been criticized widely by human rights organizations: prisoners are being kept indefinitely without trial and several detainees having been allegedly tortured. Today, 39 prisoners remain.
‘We Seceded Where Others Failed’
The Conch Republic was born on April 23, 1982, in response to a US Border Patrol blockade of the Florida Keys. Since the US insisted on treating the Keys like a foreign country, Mayor Dennis Wardlow decided to secede. Today the community stands proudly as one with a “sovereign state of mind”.
Small House, Great Rest
The Republic of Parva Domus Magna Quies is located in Uruguay. Founded in 1878, the organization occupied an extensive hacienda in the outskirts of Montevideo, of which today only the main mansion remains. ‘According to them, with the exception of Parva Domus, the rest of the world is mad as hell.’
Kalakuta Republic was a secessionist state within Nigeria that provided political asylum for musicians, friends and the extended family of popular afro-pop musician and activist Fela Kuti. Kuti founded his republic as a protest to the dictatorial regime. Forty-four years ago, the Kalakuta Republic was burned to the ground by government soldiers.
San Escobar is a non-existent country and emerged out of a blunder by the former Polish minister of foreign affairs, Witold Waszczykowski. The minister told reporters he had met with officials from various countries, including meeting some Caribbean nations ‘perhaps for the first time in the history of our diplomacy. For example with countries such as San Escobar or Belize’.
The Ice Republic
The Glacier Republic was founded by Greenpeace in the hope to protect Chilean glaciers from mining activities. Apart from rising temperatures, the mining explosions and pollution take a great toll on this environment. Greenpeace stated that once Chile passes legislation that will protect its glaciers, the republic will cease to exist. However, after seven years this micronation is still on the map.
All of Outer Space
Happy New Year! Early in January 1949 James Thomas Mangan posted a formal request to all the countries in the world to recognize his recently registered Nation of Celestial Space. This new nation was formed by ‘all of outer space’, because no other country should have political hegemony in space.
The Incredible Story of Rose Island
After the release of L’Isola delle Rose by Netflix, the extraordinary but largely untold story of the ‘prince of anarchists’ Giorgio Rose became popular immediately. The Italian engineer built his own island in the Adriatic sea in the 1960s, which housed a restaurant, bar, souvenir shop and even a post office.
The Triangle by the Sea
In 2014, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ended the maritime conflict between Chile and Peru. In a Solomonic way, they divided the disputed sea between the two countries. However, the Court’s ruling left one point unresolved: the Terrestrial Triangle.
Meet the Hakkelaars
The Free Republic of Hakkelaarsbrug, a hamlet in the Netherlands, declared the independence in 2017. The micronation has a passport, banknotes, postage stamps, its own flag and a national anthem. It also has its own White House where meetings are held. However, there are no political parties—in fact, politics are banned completely.
I Am What I Am: The Gay Kingdom
In 2004 a group of gay activists sailed on board of the Gayflower to the Coral Islands, a group of uninhabited islets east of the Great Barrier Reef, to protest against the refusal of the Australian government to recognize same sex marriage. The islands of the Coral Sea were claimed as homeland for the gay and lesbian people of the world and a campsite called Heaven was erected on Cato Island. ‘I Am What I Am’ became the national Anthem.
On June 3 the Kingdom of Sedang was created by former French government official Charles-Marie David de Mayréna. Mayréna was involved in dubious affairs and owned a plantation in French Indo-China. He managed to convince the local tribesmen to form a small kingdom under his rule and the Kingdom published various stamps, had a flag and a coat of arms but perished when Mayréna died under mysterious circumstances in 1890.
‘The World Is Ridiculous; Let’s Keep It That Way.’
The Aerican Empire was created on May 8 in 1987 by the five-year-old Eric Lis. The first ten years it was entirely fictive but it became more serious when a website was launched in 1997. Now everyone can sign up to become a citizen and chose which area of the empire they want to reside in. These non-contiguous pieces of land reach as far the northern hemisphere of Pluto. Silliness is never far away.
A Divided Island
Meet Puerto Rico. The island in the Caribbean Sea became a US territory following the Spanish-American War in 1898. After hurricane Maria in 2017 it found itself with a collapsing economy and destroyed infrastructure, and a crisis of sovereignty. Read more about the independence struggles of this divided island.
Fireworks in Baarle
These days, Baarle Hertog is highly popular among the Dutch. While they are only allowed to buy fireworks from the 28th of December in their own country, in Belgium they can buy crackers all year round. As a result, the small border town is plagued with long cues and traffic jams—but for the local businesses, it is heyday.