If you’re tired of living within the confines of a United Nations-recognized state, you’re not alone. Thousands of others are already living in their own country. Want to start your own?
Here are a few tips to get you going.
First, let’s make sure you’re eligible. The 1933 Montevideo Convention lists four basic criteria for a state to exist: a permanent population (even if it’s just you); a defined territory; a government; and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Got those? Now let’s make a micronation.
Creating your own private island isn’t an option, because you’d still be connected to a host country—much to the chagrin of self-proclaimed queer nationalists from The Gay Kingdom of the Coral Sea, off the coast of Australia, and inventor Dean Kamen, whose Kingdom of North Dumpling near New York State has its own constitution, flag, and one-ship navy.
The trick is finding a remaining parcel of no man’s land. Liberland, between Croatia and Serbia, and the Kingdom of North Sudan are both on land that is, technically, unclaimed. Remember land is highly coveted. Dwindling natural resources, global conflict and sea level rise could make you vulnerable to a takeover. So why not try water? International law states the high seas are sovereign. The swashbuckling Principality of Sealand, built atop a WWII-era gun platform, was established just 6 nautical miles off the coast of England.
Proclaim your nation
Some micronations take themselves seriously. Christiania, the autonomous, cannabispeddling art enclave, has ruled over abandoned military barracks in Copenhagen, Denmark, since 1971. Talossa, a kingdom in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin (population: 225), is run as a constitutional monarchy, replete with a prime minister and cabinet.
Others are experimental art projects. Zaq Landsberg, a sculptor from Brooklyn, founded the Republic of Zaqistan in 2005 after bidding on eBay for land in the Utah desert for the paltry price of USD 610. Westarctica, spanning 1.6 million square kilometers across Antarctica, has a more environmental aim. Grand Duke Travis McHenry, supported by his Knights of the Snowflakes, advocates for wildlife protection and researches the impact of climate change on Antarctica’s ice sheet.
Set up your government
Will you be a dictator, a monarch, make your daughter a princess, or banish hierarchies? It’s up to you! Raise your flag. Create your currency. Kevin Baugh, the president of Molossia, imprinted his face on gaming chips, a nod to nearby Las Vegas in the ‘bordering’ state of Nevada. Need an anthem? Maybe ask Neil Young for a license to use “Rockin’ in the Free World”. Will your country offer its citizens passports, marriage certificates, or driver’s licenses? Think about it—you’re writing your nation’s history.
Congratulations. All Hail, [fill in the blank]. You now join the Republic of Minerva, the Imperial Throne, and a slew of other nations that probably won’t be represented at the Olympics (although Liberland is assembling a soccer team). Nowhere does it say your spanking new country needs another’s recognition to exist, but please do consider diplomacy.
Declare your country to the U.N.
But while recognition isn’t essential, earning official acknowledgment is what this is all about, right? The application is simple. If you need a template, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote one for their conceptual country Nutopia. Sure it’s good to have friends in high places, but it may be hard getting approval from two-thirds of the U.N. So be prepared to practice some tenacity, humility, and patience—a fitting disposition for a self-proclaimed king or queen.