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micronations, conch republic, micronation
Sam Howzit/Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The flag of the Conch Republic, a micronation based in Key West, Fla.

What Is a Micronation?

November 11, 2010
by Liz Colville
There are thousands of strange and unique micronations around the world whose founders stand up for their beliefs, regardless of whether anyone else does.

Defining Micronation

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Micronation is a term so new it’s not in most dictionaries. Search for it online and you’ll find a Wikipedia entry and Web sites showcasing some of the most interesting micronations—even pages offering tips, like wikiHow’s “How to Start Your Own Country,” which clears up some of the mysteries of micronations.

Essentially, micronations are legal “mock sovereign states,” Robin T. Reid explains in Smithsonian Magazine. Many of the micronations that exist today are “fueled by local disputes, utopian idealism and the imaginations of a few eccentric individuals,” Reid writes.

Another way to think of it is that a micronation is a “home-made nation,” as Lonely Planet’s Simon Sellars calls it in the 2006 book, “Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations.” In an interview with BLDGBLOG, Sellars explains that the book is organized the same way as Lonely Planet’s books on big nations; this way, the authors could see whether the micronations are really as organized and nation-like as they claim.

Take, for example, the Empire of Atlantium in Australia. Sellars found that Atlantium has all the standard fittings of the country in which it sits, including currency, a citizenship program, a flag and a “pompous official portrait of the head of state.” Like most nations, it has been at war, and it can be visited.

Sellars’ interviewer notes that the leaders of many micronations—“kings, queens, prime ministers, etc.,”—are “actually teenage boys, or eccentric older men, many of whom have goatees.”

On a more serious note, many micronations are attempting to make some kind of statement through the political and cultural platforms they represent. Get acquainted with some of the most interesting micronations with the sites below.

Ladonia

Geographically speaking, Ladonia is situated in Sweden, on the Scandinavian Peninsula. But its ruler, Lars Vilks, explains on the official Web site that Ladonia seceded from Sweden in 1996. Its architecture is particularly impressive. The blog Inhabitat explains, with photos, that Ladonia’s offerings include “Nimis, a maze of 70 tons of driftwood and nails, and Arx, a stone and concrete sculpture that looks like a melting sandcastle.”

Republic of Molossia

Back home in the United States (technically), the Republic of Molossia is ruled by James Spielman, aka King James I. The kingdom had no physical home but existed in a “nomadic” state in Europe until it was “transplanted to the State of Nevada” in 1995, the Web site explains. In 2000, Molossia hosted the Intermicronational Olympic Games “in concert with the 2000 Sydney Games,” according to the Web site.

Maritime Republic of Eastport

The Maritime Republic of Eastport, or MRE, lies in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis, Md. “[T]he break was done ‘tongue in cheek,’” in 1998, Smithsonian Magazine explains, as “a creative way to promote local businesses disputing a public works plan.”

“When the state closed down the bridge over Spa Creek for repairs for a whole month in 1998, it was fairly devastating,” Cindy Fletcher Holden, formerly the “prime mistress” of MRE, told Smithsonian. “It could have taken people about an hour to get to Eastport. So we raised a whole hoo-ha and formed our own country. It worked. People actually came around, and business on this side of the creek actually did better than normal.”

Sealand

Sealand served as the headquarters of a data hosting company called HavenCo. Sealand is housed in “a rusty steel deck sitting on two hollow, chubby concrete cylinders that rise 60 feet above the churn of the North Sea,” off the coast of England, Wired magazine reported in 2000.

Featuring “a drab building and a jury-rigged helicopter landing pad,” Sealand is a former English World War II defense post and seemed an ideal place to run a business that would provide people with Internet bandwidth “at prices far cheaper than those on the overregulated dry land of Europe,” according to Wired.

But internal squabbles, lack of funds and customer wariness led to HavenCo’s demise in 2008. Sealand, meanwhile, still exists, though it suffered serious damage from a fire in 2006, WebUrbanist notes in the article “Bizarre Micronations.”
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