Micronations: What are these unknown entities?

Sealand, the first micronation

Twitter: @SealandGov

Sealand, the first micronation

Liam Mickulas-Mesco, Contributor

The Republic of Molossia, the Dominion of British West Florida, the Principality of Sealand, and the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands. I’m betting that you haven’t heard any of those names until now. Why is that?
These are the names of Micronations – tiny, sometimes microscopic, unrecognized countries. And when I say tiny, I don’t mean the size of Vatican City. I mean places the size of a house. A bedroom. In some cases, a rock. There are thousands of Micronations out in the world. Outsiders often find themselves asking, “Why?” Why do people create Micronations? This is a hard question to answer, but in order to do it, we need to go to Sealand.
Sealand started it all for modern Micronationalists. The success story of the Principality of Sealand is something that many Micronational leaders have tried (and failed) to replicate. Let me explain. During World War II, the United Kingdom built HM Fort Roughs to defend shipping lanes from the Nazis. The War ended in 1945, and in 1956, the fort was abandoned. In 1967, a man by the name of Patrick Bates occupied the fort to broadcast his private radio station. Instead of doing this, he declared independence from the UK. Years later, in 1978, Dutch and German mercenaries were hired to attack Sealand, which lead to a hostage situation with Bates’s son, Michael. Michael was able to retake Sealand and captured Alexander Achenbach, the man who hired the mercenaries. This mess required the involvement of a German diplomat who negotiated Achenbach’s release. Bates released Achenbach and stated that the diplomat’s visit to Sealand meant that Sealand’s government recognized his country. The United Kingdom jokingly views Sealand as a foreign country as well.
TLDR: Due to the vague success of the Principality of Sealand, thousands of people across the globe have decided to take a swing at creating a country. The reasons vary, but a common reason Micronationalists establish their own governments is because they are unhappy with their current one. For example, the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys declared independence from the United States after the US Border Patrol set up roadblocks on the only highway connecting the Keys to the mainland. This lead to an all out war between the US and CR, though the CR’s attack consisted of throwing water balloons and stale Cuban bread at American ships conducting military exercises.

Andy Newman / CBS Miami
Attendees wave flags and hold signs during a ceremony Monday, April 23, 2012, in Key West, Fla., to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Conch Republic

Now that we’ve covered the “why,” we need to cover the “how” and the “when.”
When discussing how Micronations are born, there are two things that need to be understood. Micronations fall into two categories. Those categories are “serious” and “fantasy.” Only a few Micronations are serious. In fact, the majority of Micronations only exist on the internet. Why is this? For most people, being a Micronationalist is a fun way to become involved in politics. Most internet Micronationalists claim land they can’t control and don’t set up economies, armies, or an actual government. This is fine, but if you are thinking of becoming a serious Micronationalist, try to stay away from websites like “MicroWiki.” Serious Micronational leaders do more than just “play dress-up.” They establish relations with other Micronations, rule over citizens, and set goals for their “country.” One such Micronation, the Republic of Westarctica, claims land in Antarctica. Although this is impossible, the Republic has citizens who sign up online. Westarctica’s goals are all environmental. The Micronation is focused on preventing global ecocide as well as preserving the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Through their efforts, Westarctica has made differences in the real world.

Fascinating Nouns
An official from the Republic of Molossia, a serious micronation

Finally, we reach “when.” The most serious Micronations were created in the latter half of the 20th century. Some of them claimed actual unclaimed territory, like Bir Tawil, an unclaimed piece of land between Egypt and Sudan. The majority of fantasy Micronations were created in the early 2000s and 2010s. I think of this trend as good; more people are becoming interested in the phenomenon known as Micronationalism.
Now, you know a little more about this topic. I think people interested in politics and political subcategories like Vexillology and Cartography would enjoy Micronationalism. Even if you’re not interested in these topics, creating fantasy Micronations and starting fictional wars with friends is fun. I recommend it.