Many of us dreamed about being the rulers of our own kingdoms when we were younger, but it wasn’t too long before we woke up to reality and pursued more ‘normal’ paths. However, some crazy diamonds have held onto this mad dream and managed to declare themselves leaders of their very own ‘micronations’. There have been hundreds of proclaimed micronations in modern history with some doing it for fame while others do it to avoid the law. Whatever the reason, we tip our hats to these crazy sovereign seekers.
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The first entrant on our list forms its boundaries on the southern coast of Sweden. Swedish artist Lars Vilks built a series of wood and stone sculptures on the beach of the Kullaberg nature preserve in 1980. The strange whimsical, castle-like artwork drew the attention of thousands of tourists and also the attention of the local city council which declared that Vilks had actually built a house illegally and demanded the structures be removed. Not wanting to see his artwork ruined, defiant Vilks did what anyone in their right mind would do next – he declared the area of the beach to be an independent, sovereign nation free from the laws of the Swedish government. He named his nation The Kingdom of Ladonia and quickly developed a flag and manifesto. Soon the country’s population grew to an amazing 14,000 residents: none of whom actually resided within the nation. Believed to have its own language, currency, social classes and tax system (in which citizens only ‘give away their creativity’), the kingdom of Ladonia declared its independence from Sweden on June 2nd 1996. Despite this, Sweden has never acknowledged it as a legitimate nation.
9. The Republic of Rose Island
This short lived micronation only lasted a matter of years before Navy ships used explosives to demolish the foundations. In 1967, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa funded the construction of a 400-square-metre (4,300 sq ft) platform supported by nine pylons in the Adriatic Sea, 7 Miles from the Italian town of Rimini. Designed to be a tourist attraction decked out with its own souvenir shop, a restaurant/bar, post office and radio station, it wasn’t long before Rosa declared sovereignty and renamed the platform “The Republic of Rose Island”. It soon had plans to begin printing its own currency, the ‘Mill’. After declaring its independence in June 1968, the Italian government grew concerned that this was all a ploy to raise money from tourists whilst avoiding national taxation. In response, the government evicted Rosa and his employees before assuming control and issuing the demolition of the structure. In retaliation, Rosa began printing postage stamps with an image of the platform’s destruction and issued them from his “Government In Exile”.
8. The Principality of Outer Baldonia
Endowed with its own currency, flag, passports, charter and organized military, The Principality of Outer Baldonia was one of the more developed historical micronations. Situated on Outer Bald Tusket Island, the southernmost of the Tusket Islands 15 km off the southern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, this nation only covered roughly 4 acres. It was established in 1948 after Pepsi publicist Russell Arundel bought the land and his friends quickly concocted a constitution and Declaration of Independence. Baldonia would have remained just a joke among this small circle of people, but Arundel went so far as to list his office number in Washington D.C. as that of the Embassy for the Principality. Soon, he and his imaginary country were being invited to state functions and Baldonia was supposedly mistakenly asked to join the United Nations. This micronation became so famous it even received criticism from a Soviet newspaper. Baldonia responded with a declaration of war on 9th March 1953, launching their entire royal navy – which consisted of one fishing vessel. In 1973, Outer Bald Tusket Island was sold by Russell Arundel to the Nova Scotia Bird Society, who are the current owners.
One of the oldest micronations on our list, this country’s history dates all the way back to the 10th Century at a time when this small territory in northern Italy was granted independence and given to some monks so they could construct a monastery. Nearly 700 years later, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia, which once owned large parts of Spain and Italy. Since the end of the Sardinian Kingdom, Seborga’s existence has largely been forgotten and omitted from a succession of treaties, including Italy’s Act of Unification of 1861, leading its residents to claim that they lived in a sovereign state. One such resident was Giorgio Carbone, who argued that the region had never lost its autonomy and as such was technically an independent principality. Carbone managed to win over the local townspeople and he was soon elected as the unofficial head of the “country” of Seborga. Carbone’s status as Prince (although without any legal power) was further supported by locals on 23 April 1995 when, in an informal referendum, Seborgans voted 304 in favour and 4 against for the principality’s constitution and in favour of independence from Italy. Although the country developed its own flag, money, postage stamps and motto, the Italian government has never acknowledged its independence and the citizens all continue to pay taxes.
Frestonia consisted of a 1.8 acres triangle of land formed by three Roads which belonged, at the time, to the Borough of Hammersmith, London. In 1977, the local council threatened the members of Freston Road (most of whom were squatters) with eviction in order to redevelop the area. At a local meeting attended by the 200 or so residents, Nick Albery suggested the streets declare independence from the UK. The referendum was supported by 94%. On Halloween of the same year and backed by the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, independence was declared by the residents. Frestonia had its own newspaper, gallery, a film institute, local transport provided by the Number 295 bus and a local Underground tube station. Frestonians even introduced postage stamps, honoured by the Post Office across the UK, and even had plans to introduce a unique currency which was to be stronger than the Sterling. Five years later, this micronation had 97 nationals across 23 houses. The same year, rock band The Clash recorded their hit album ‘Combat Rock’ in Frestonia. Unfortunately, this nation did not last long. Following huge international press coverage, the residents formed the Bramleys Housing Co-operative which negotiated for continued residence in exchange for effectively returning to the UK and redevelopment. Many Frestonians, unhappy with giving up their national identity, moved away. Those who remained were unable to maintain the ideals the nation was built on and a new community arose. So far, the community remains within the UK and there are no immediate plans for independence.
5. Kingdom of Redonda
foto: Invertzoo / Wikicommons
The history of this micronation is one weaved with both fact and fiction thanks to many artists and novelists. During the 1800s, Matthew D. Shiell, a resident of the Caribbean Island of Montserrat, made a claim on the rocky and uninhabited island of Redonda, an island that is completely desolate and uninhabitable due to no source of freshwater other than rain. Most of the island remains extremely steep. As a result, Shiell never lived on the island but still continued to serve as King from afar until he passed the throne to his son M.P. Sheill in 1880. His son then went so far as to write to England’s Queen Victoria and request that she recognize him as King of the island, to which she actually replied stating she would as long as he never rebelled against the crown. Shiell went on to establish a set of customs and a flag for his ‘100’ citizens before passing the crown to his friend John Gawsworth, who went by the name King Juan I. Since then, there has been numerous leaders of the nation and today there are as many as three would-be kings claiming the throne. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Spanish writer Javier Marias. He has given out ceremonial titles in the Redondan Kingdom to a number of artists, among them Francis Ford Coppola, Ray Bradbury, and Alice Munro.
4. Dominion of Melchizedek
One of the main reasons that micronations are formed is to avoid some form of legislation enforced by the current government. The Dominion of Melchizedek was formed in 1986 by Evan David Pedley and his son Mark Logan Pedley, both of whom have since served time in jail. Using the claim of sovereignty as a shield, for a number of years this island in the South Pacific (part of Antarctica) has operated as an offshore haven for phony banks and nearly every variety of fraud. Passports were once sold for $10,000 apiece and the dominion has supposedly sold countless fake business licenses that were used by conmen and other swindlers to give their front companies a veneer of authenticity. Despite being repeatedly blasted as an outright sham, it is yet to be shut down and its website is still up and running accepting applications for citizenship all, of course, for a fee. The Dominion claims to be an ecclesiastical state in the tradition of Vatican City and also claims that its sovereignty has been acknowledged by everything from the United Nations to the Central African Republic. These allegations are widely considered to be false. Despite being largely ignored, it continues to occasionally appear in the media asserting its authenticity – like in 1995 when it briefly declared nuclear war on France.
3. Republic of Minerva
The Republic of Minerva was one of the few attempts at creating a new nation from the reclaimed land of an artificial island. In the 1970s, architect and real estate million Michael Oliver formed a syndicate named the Ocean Life Research Foundation. With a supposed $100 million and offices in New York and London, they saw a liberation society with ‘no taxes, welfare, subsidies, or any form of economic intervention’. The economy would focus of tourism, fishing, commerce and light industry. In 1971, with sand loaded on barges travelling from Australia, the reef was finally brought above water level and a small tower was soon constructed. The Republic of Minerva issued a declaration of independence on 19th January 1972 along with the raising of the flag. Within months, a Provisional President had been elected and their own currency began circulating, known as the Minerva Dollar. Unfortunately, the neighbouring State of Tonga did not take kind to the new nation. In June, a Tongan expedition set sail to enforce their claim on the islands and soon raised their own flag on the platform. Chaos ensued and the President was fired by founder Michael Oliver, and the project crumbled in confusion. 10 years later, a group of Americans once again tried to occupy the once great Republic of Minerva, but were forced off by Tongan troops in less than a month. Currently, the Reefs belong to Fiji after a 9 year dispute with the Tongan nation.
2. Principality of Sealand
Despite being one of the smallest micronations on this list, the Principality of Sealand has attracted a huge amount of fame. Established on an abandoned WWII sea fort off the coast of Britain in 1967, the micronation came into existence thanks to famed pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates. After using the fort as a hub for ‘Radio Essex’, Bates began calling the platform ‘Sealand’. In 1975 he went so far as to come up with his own flag, national anthem, currency and passports. What made Sealand so infamous was its reputation for its use of force brought about when Bate’s son Michael used a rifle to fire on a British vessel that apparently entered Sealand’s waters. Of course, he was charged for the incident but managed to dodge all charges in court as Sealand was far enough off the coast to be outside of British jurisdiction. Despite all of this, in recent years this small nation has been used less as a country and more for business ventures where it was briefly used as an offshore data hosting facility due to its lack of laws and regulations. Sealand still remains a huge tourist attraction and has even had a film made about its history, but none of this could help the Bates family when they unsuccessfully tried to sell the principality for a staggering 750 million euros.
1. The Principality of Hutt River
The oldest micronation in Australia, the principality claims to be an independent sovereign state which was granted legal status in April 1970. Leonard George Casley had a dispute with the government of Western Australia over wheat production quotas. With a farm containing 9,900 acres which was only allowed to sell 10% of the yield, he protested the Governor but received no satisfying reply. Following several failed attempts, including a claim for $52 million, Casley and his associates felt International Law allowed them to secede from the Commonwealth of Australia. Taking the title of Prince Leonard, Casley gave the Australian government 2 years to reply. After the time was up and following no response, he believed this has given the region de facto autonomy. 4 years later and following demands by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for payment of taxes, the province declared war. Several days later, he informed the authorities a ceasefire had been called. In an open letter quoting the Geneva Convention, Casley stated that a country undefeated in a state of war is given sovereignty. By 1980, Perth reinstated its mail service which had been disrupted in 1976. The court ruled that the Hutt River currency and postage stamps were legal and valid. Following this, all tax forms filed with the ATO include legal documents supporting their status as a foreign nation. Therefore, Hutt River residents are still required to file income tax forms, but any income earned with the province is exempt as being foreign and only taxable within the Hutt River. The micronation still stands to this day and has a worldwide citizenry of 14,000, 23 actual residents and it welcomes an astonishing 40,000 tourist visits per year.