Micronations: The Best Thing to Happen to Geography Since Pangaea

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Ella Webber

The flags of various micronations.

Currently, there are around 80 micronations dotting the globe. These are areas that claim independence but are not recognized as sovereign states by the United Nations or any other governments across the world. Micronations can range in size from one square foot to the 620,000 square mile swath of Antarctica. No matter their size, these micronations are often self-sufficient. Many micronations have their own flags, postage stamps and even currency.

Sealand sits atop an abandoned fort from WW2 in the North Sea. (Wiki Commons)

One of the most prominent micronations in the world is the Principality of Sealand. Located seven miles off the coast of Great Britain, Sealand is situated on a man-made island fortress built by the British government during the Second World War. The fort was intended to defend Britain from German invaders but is technically located in the international waters of the North Sea. In 1967, Roy Bates, along with his wife Joan, two children and a few followers, declared the Principality of Sealand’s sovereignty. There were a few challenges to Sealand’s existence during its beginning but a judge declared that because the micronation is located in international waters “UK courts have no jurisdiction.” The Royal Bates family has lived there ever since. You can also become royalty in Sealand with a donation to their community and receive authorization from the Prince Regent himself. 

The Independent Republic of Hualqui, located in Chile, was established in 1823 during the middle of the Chilean Wars of Independence. Caught between the crossfire of Chilean nationalists rebelling against the Spanish, the town of Hualqui was abandoned by both sides and was left susceptible to famine and attack by local tribes. War-torn, starving and fed up, the town decided to declare their independence. Sadly, a mere two days later Hualqui was reabsorbed into the Republic of Chile, which the town has been a part of ever since. Even though The Independent Republic of Hualqui no longer exists, it will go down in history as one of the shortest-lived nations in world history.

Dean Kamen’s paradise of North Dumpling Island. (Wiki Commons)

Within the United States there are multiple micronations, including North Dumpling Island. This island off the coast of Connecticut was bought for $2.5 million in 1986 by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the segway. Kamen wanted to build a wind turbine on the island but was denied by local officials. He decided to secede from the United States and form his own nation of North Dumpling Island. The then-president George W. Bush even complied with the succession. The island has its own flag, constitution, anthem and recreation of Stonehenge. Kamen, who prefers to go by Lord Dumpling, is the sole resident of the island.

Mount Athos is a micronation that covers about 130 square miles of a Greek Peninsula. The area is home to 20 monasteries devoted to the practice of Eastern Orthodoxy. The peninsula and its namesake mountain are steeped in mythology and the first monasteries date back all the way to the Byzantine era. Monks have lived here for hundreds of years, calling the territory the “Garden of Virgin Mary.” It can be difficult to visit the area though, as only men are allowed in.

The gates of Christiania. (Wiki Commons)

Nestled in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark, the micronation of Christiania is a haven for the hippies of the world. Founded in 1971 on an abandoned military compound, the free city of Christiania is a socialist utopia with a vibe that feels like it’s still the 70s. There are no cars or corporations within the walls of Christiania where everything is homemade and the children play safely in the streets. It’s home to about 900 residents who have chosen to live an alternative lifestyle in a community built entirely on supporting your neighbors.

The bust of Prince Leonard, founder of the Principality of Hutt River. (Wiki Commons)

The most well-known micronation down under is that of The Principality of Hutt River. Founder Leonard Casley, “Prince Leonard,” declared independence from Australia in 1970 to protest wheat production quotas. Ever since its creation, Casley and his family have been fighting the Australian courts over taxes and legal status. Due to the death of Prince Leonard in 2019 and a decline in revenue, the Principality was forced to dissolve in August of 2020.

These are only a fraction of the wonderfully weird micronations that have sprung up across the globe and a quick google search for the list of them all is plenty to provide entertainment for hours.