Admit it – you’ve thought about what life would be like if you ruled your own country. I would make an awesome Queen, just for the record. Diet Coke would flow from kitchen faucets, scientists would put all of the vitamins and minerals you need into low-calorie mint-chocolate chip ice cream and the Killers would sing our national anthem. OK, so maybe not everyone would want to live in Conradtia, but that’s fine. I’ll declare myself a micronation. Micronations usually exist only on paper or in the minds of their creators and aren’t recognized by governments or organizations or anything like that (so… maybe Conradtia already exists?!). Although some micronations actually have their own currency, stamps, passports, flags and other “national” memorabilia, none of it is considered valid except to the people who, well, consider it valid. If that makes any sense. It’s different than an imaginary country, because in this case the “rulers” of the micronations actively seek to be recognized by world governments.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s take a look at a few micronations.
Sealand is arguably the best-known of all micronations. It started out as the humble HM Fort Roughs during WWII, built by the U.K. for defense against German aircrafts. Its location is about six miles from the coast of Suffolk in international waters. At its peak, up to 300 military personnel lived on the HM Fort Roughs; the last of them moved off the base in 1956.
That’s when Major Paddy Roy Bates took over. He was a pirate radio broadcaster who wanted to broadcast his radio station from the platform.
When the Royal Navy entered Sealand’s “territorial waters” to service a navigational buoy, Bates’ son fired off warning shots. He was summoned to English court because of his actions, but nothing came of it because Sealand was outside of the (then) three-mile limit of the country’s waters. Following this success, the Bates’ wrote a constitution; composed a national anthem and designed a flag, currency and passports.
Roy Bates and his wife, Joan, call themselves the Prince and Princess of Sealand (why not King and Queen, I wonder?). Their son is “His Royal Highness Prince Michael”, but the Bates family refers to him as the “Prince Regent”. Following a fire in 1999, the Bates’ moved back to England but still retain “ownership” of Sealand.
Oddly, Sealand citizens have competed at various sporting events and have even taken home medals in honor of the micronation. Mountaineer Slader Oviatt carried the Sealandic flag to the top of Muztagh Ata in 2004 and in 2007, Michael Martelle represented Sealand in the World Cup of Kung Fu, held in Quebec City, Canada, where he won two silver medals.
Kugelmugel is a micronation located in Vienna. The Republic of Kugelmugel emerged in 1984 when artist Edwin Lipburger and Austrian authorities began feuding over building permits for Lipburger’s house. Independence was declared, Lipburger stopped paying taxes and began printing up his own stamps. This earned him a prison sentence, but the Austrian President pardoned him. His house, 2, Antifaschismusplatz” (Anti-Fascism Square) is the only building in the Republic.
Principality of Seborga
This one dates back, some say to the year 954. Although it’s located in the Italian region of Liguria near the French border, the Count of Ventimiglia ceded Seborga to the monks of Lerino. In 1079, the Abbot of the monastery was made a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire with authority over the Principality of Seborga. In 1729, the principality was sold to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. However, this sale was never registered by its new owner, which leaves Seborga floating… no pun intended.
In 1815, the Congress of Vienna failed to include Seborga in the redistribution of European territories, and it was overlooked again in 1861 in the Act of Unification of Italy. In the early ’60s, the head of the local flower-growers co-op, started to convince people that Seborga was actually an independent nation. People agreed with his logic and elected him “Head of State”. He started going by Giorgio I, Prince of Seborga. He is known locally as “Your Tremendousness” or “your Terrificness”.It’s really more in good fun than anything else, though – the residents of Seborga still pay Italian taxes and vote in Italian elections.
The Kingdom of Elleore is uninhabited except for the one week of the year that all of its citizens gather to elect new royalty (or vote to keep the same ones in place). It’s actually an island located on the east coast of Denmark. It was bought in 1944 by some teachers from Copenhagen who wanted to use the island as a summer camp. After they bought it, they declared independence (tongue-in-cheek) and began issuing stamps and coins. They also have “Elleore Standard Time”, which is 12 minutes ahead of Danish time.
The Kingdom of Lovely
Comic writer Danny Wallace founded the Kingdom of Lovely (his flat in London) in 2005. Despite its small size, the Kingdom of Lovely has 58,165 citizens registered on its Web site. The founding of Lovely was documented for the BBC from 2004-2005 in a series called How to Start Your Own Country. The show followed Wallace as he tried to get official recognition for his country at the U.N. (he didn’t) and the appointments of various positions in Wallace’s cabinet. For instance, Lovely’s Minister of Defense is Wallace’s friend Jon Bond, who was once a security guard at Tesco.
Talossa was founded on December 26, 1979, by Robert Madison of Milwaukee, Wis. His mother had just died and he declared his bedroom an independent territory (Talossa means “inside the house” in Finnish). As Madison got older, he expanded his territory to include most of Milwaukee’s east side, plus the French Island of Cézembre and part of Antarctica.
When Madison was a kid, residents of Talossa were pretty much confined to a handful of friends and relatives. In the mid ’90s, though, his Web site popped up in the media and dozens of people joined the kingdom.
In June 2004, Talossa broke into two different pieces – the Kingdom of Talossa and the Republic of Talossa. In 2005, Madison passed the torch to his wife’s grandson, Louis, who became King Louis on August 16. He reigned for a little more than a year and a new King – John Woolley – was elected on March 14, 2007. The Kingdom currently has 117 citizens.