Getting away from it all? You could do worse than find a micronation. If you have the will and the imagination you can even create your own!
Are they legitimate territories for independent inhabitants? Or self-indulgent made-up places that shouldn’t be on a map? Either way, the stories behind these micronations are fascinating.
Here are some of the most attention-grabbing examples from around the world…
The Empire of Atlantium
Based in New South Wales, the Empire of Atlantium measures 0.29 square miles. It dates back to 1981, when Sydney teenagers George Francis Cruickshank, Geoffrey John Duggan, and Claire Marie Duggan decided to do things their own way.
According to the Empire’s website, Atlantium “offers an alternative to the discriminatory historic practice of assigning nationality to individuals on the basis of accidents of birth or circumstance.”
This quote is taken from an introductory statement by His Imperial Majesty George II, aka Cruickshank. Some 3,000 people are signed up to the cause.
Those of a more laidback disposition may want to head to Christiania, or Freetown Christiania. Located within Copenhagen, the Danish micronation reportedly caters to bohemian tastes and covers 0.03 square miles. The location’s origins are surprising, with the community springing from a former military barracks in 1971.
As Fodor’s explains, its status as a tourist attraction “is almost certainly in no small part thanks to the once-open sale of weed on the main street.” On a related note, Christiania cropped up in an episode of the drug-fueled American drama series Weeds.
L’Isola delle Rose, or Rose Island, was a 400-square-meter (that’s 0.00015 square miles) platform erected on pylons by engineer Giorgio Rosa off the coast of Rimini, northern Italy. It’s probably the most famous on our list, due to the Netflix movie from last year. Elio Germano played Rosa, with the cast including Luca Zingaretti — aka Inspector Montalbano — as politician and future president Giovanni Leone.
As quoted by the BBC, son Lorenzo Rosa said that despite a cool engineer’s exterior, Giorgio had a “small vein of craziness.” He wanted to create “a state outside of territorial waters, which kind of made him the prince of anarchists.”
Naturally, the Italian government wasn’t happy about Rosa’s anarchist hub in the Adriatic. The pylon-heavy paradise lasted under two months before being destroyed.
Humans look to the stars for enlightenment and, more recently, accommodation. That’s where Asgardia comes in! Sounding like something out of Marvel Comics, Asgardia is a space-based micronation established in 2016 by Russian scientist and politician Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli.
The place may be cosmic and out of reach at present, but interested parties only need to click on the Asgardia website to get involved. Their aims include “facilitating the first human childbirth in space” and to “eliminate militarization of space.” At time of writing, the micronation has almost 3,000 “residents.”
Our next micronation forms a highly unofficial part of Florida. And its dramatic-sounding back story is a classic “individual vs the government” scenario.
The Conch Republic came to be after a roadblock was placed by authorities seeking to guard the border in 1982. For Dennis Wardlow, who used to be the mayor of Key West, this was a chaotic move. The block resulted in an epic traffic jam. Tourists were potentially being turned off by the sunshine state.
“Since the United States insisted on treating the Keys like a foreign country,” the Republic’s website writes, “Mayor Dennis Wardlow seceded from Union.” The fightback was light-hearted, but the point was made.
The flag is still flying decades later. Next year sees the Conch Republic celebrate its 40th anniversary.
A similar concept to Rose Island, only with a British flavor, got off the drawing board in the shape of Sealand. This principality is located off the east British shore. It had more success than its Mediterranean counterpart — the micronation has weathered numerous storms since 1967.
Major Roy Bates used to run a Radio Caroline–style radio station out at sea. When the establishment raised objections, he moved from his ex-naval fort base and headed for Roughs Tower, or Fort Roughs Tower.
The idea was to resume his disc-spinning activities outside UK jurisdiction. However, Major Bates then opted to form his own state inside the former World War II stronghold. He named it Sealand.
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The micronation has claimed 0.0015 square miles and has its own currency, the Sealand dollar. Just don’t expect to use it on the mainland! More information about Sealand and its oceanic opportunities can be found on its website and Twitter feed (which to date has over 18,000 followers).