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A micronation is a political entity that claims to be a sovereign state but is not recognised as such by the wider international community. Micronations are treated as distinct from conventional unrecognised states, although there is no widespread consensus within micropatriology over what exactly constitutes a micronation or distinguishes it from other unrecognised states. Broadly speaking, micronations are created and developed for a variety of reasons, including for personal entertainment, artistic ventures, tourist attractions, as a sign of protest or as a hobby, with their claims to sovereignty considered trivial enough to be ignored by the conventional sovereign states whose territory they claim; micronations whose ultimate goal is to receive international recognition as sovereign states are termed secessionist, and micronations without this goal are termed simulationist.
Micronations have existed since the 19th century, with the practice of micronationalism growing immensely in the early 21st century as the creation and maintenance of micronations became a relatively mainstream hobby and the Internet facilitated the emergence of an online micronational community. Some well-known micronations, including Sealand, Whangamomona, and Liberland, exist outside this online community; others, including Austenasia, the Aerican Empire, and Molossia, regularly attend micronational events and have a developed online presence. The majority of English-speaking micronations are part of the MicroWiki sector, which has existed since 2005, and have not achieved widespread notoriety.
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The definition of a micronation is largely influenced by 1933 Montevideo Convention, which sets out the four criteria for statehood that have been recognized by international organizations as an accurate definition for a macronation. The defining feature of a micronation is typically its lack of formal recognition by macronations, whilst membership in the intergovernmental United Nations is another defining factor, as the majority of recognised sovereign states hold membership within the UN.
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.— Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention
Most sources define micronations as, broadly, self-declared countries not recognised by other states or international organisations like the United Nations. Wikipedia and WorldAtlas.com both define a micronation as an "entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not recognized by world governments or major international organizations". On its main page, MicroWiki defines micronations as "small and often rather eccentric nations that are unrecognised by the wider international community" and in its article Micronation defines a micronation as a "political entity that claims to be a sovereign state but is not recognised as such by the wider international community".
Micronations, the state-like entities documented on MicroWiki, usually classify themselves as micronations, although some prefer the term unrecognised state
While no universal system of classification of micronations exists, there are several models trying to classify micronations. Classically, the split between simulationism and secessionism, where the former proclaims that the existence of their political entity is entirely simulated with no intention to become independent, and the thatter proclaims they are either intending to secede or already consider themselves sovereign. Secessionism can also apply to similar political entities to micronations such as seasteading, whilst simulationist micronations typically revolve around communities built around specific cultures, with many simulationist micronations existing partially or entirely within online spaces such as Skype or Discord. The concept of simulationism and secessionism has been criticised extensively for extreme simplification of the micronational phenomenon, with micronationalists such as Ives Blackwood proposing alternatives such as New Secessionism. Many micronations model their governments after macronational federations like Federal Republic of Germany and Australia to represent their citizens that live internationally.
Some micronations claim to be continuations of former sovereign states, with the most commonly emulated former states including the German Empire, Prussia and Rhodesia. Due to the common nature of such micronations, the majority are criticised by some micronationalists, especially older micronationalists.
Not all micronations are run by humans, with some micronations giving titles or offices to animals, usually pets.
History of micronationalism is difficult to categorise before the late 1800s, since it is difficult to differentiate between genuine attempts at sovereignty (usually backed with violence), contrasted by the eccentric, peaceful and relatively non-serious nature of modern micronationalism. It is therefore impossible to classify when the first micronation was founded, however some possible front runners are possible to identify.
In 1859, Emperor Norton I declared himself the Emperor of the United States in San Francisco. During his reign, he issued his own currency, royal proclamations and went out on imperial inspections of local landmarks and shops. His endeavour was well regarded by the locals of San Francisco, and his legacy has been immortalized in popular culture.
Martin Harman bought the British island of Lundy in 1925, declared himself King, and issued local coinage and postage stamps. Although the island was governed as a virtual fiefdom, its owner never claimed independence from the United Kingdom, so Lundy can only be described as a forerunner to later territorial micronations. Another example is Elleore, which was declared on August 27, 1944, by a group of school teachers and is still in existence today. The third case in point is the Principality of Outer Baldonia, a 16-acre rocky island off the coast of Nova Scotia founded in 1945 by Russell Arundel, chairman of the Pepsi Cola Company, and home to 69 fishermen.
The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the foundation of a number of territorial micronations. The first of these, Sealand, was established in 1967 on an abandoned World War II gun platform in the North Sea just off the East Anglian coast of England, and still survives. Others were founded on libertarian principles and involved schemes to construct artificial islands, but only three are known to have had even limited success in realizing that goal. In 1979, the Kingdom of Talossa was founded, perhaps best known for its constructed language Talossan.
In November 1980, perhaps the first intermicronational organisation, the League of Secessionist States was founded by Talossa, Kingdom of Thord, Imperial Jahn Empire. The League quickly fell into inactivity, but with the advent of the internet, the League was resurrected with renewed interest into micronationalism. However, the current status of the League is unknown.
Rise of the Internet
In the mid-1990s, with the rise of the Internet, micronationalism lost much of its traditionally eccentric anti-establishment sentiment in favour of more hobbyist perspectives. Additionally, the emerging popularity of the Internet made creating state-like entities possible with relative ease via an entirely electronic medium—GeoCities, Tripod (both 1995) and Angelfire (1996), early web hosting services. As a result, the number of exclusively online or merely simulation-based micronations expanded dramatically, with entirely fictional states (geofiction) erroneously claiming to be micronations. The Kingdom of Talossa, which launched its website in November 1995, also created The Micronations Page, the first website dedicated to micronationalism as a whole. After appearing in several American newspapers, numerous micronationalists e-mailed Talossa in search of diplomacy, which resulted in Robert B. Madison, founder and King of Talossa, re-establishing his childhood organisation the League of Secessionist States. The league became the largest intermicronational organisation by the end of 1996 with roughly ten member states, its members convening through e-mail, the usenet newsgroup alt.talk.hypothetical and a LoSS forum. Another micronational newsgroup, alt.politics.micronations, was created on 15 June 1997. Additionally, the Kingdom of Porto Claro (which went online in September 1996) and the Holy Empire of Reunion (late 1997) pioneered the Lusophone and Brazilian sectors. As there was no central website for miconational activity at the time, with diplomacy being conducted principally via e-mail, web directories were created to list the national websites of micronations—the Micronations DataBase by the LoSS in 1997, Reunion's list of micronations in early 1998, Micronations on the Web in April 1998 and the Micronation and Sovereignty Website Index on 19 January 1999.
In 2005, MicroWiki was founded by Fabian Schneider on Wikicities, the precursor to Wikia (now Fandom), with a purpose of recording information about his micronation Seraya. After creating several articles about his micronation, he left a site for nearly a year, returning to see over a hundred articles and writing his Word from the Founder for the new MicroWiki community. MicroWiki would grow to become the hub for micronations on the internet over the course of the following 15 years with 51,377 users creating 176,033 pages. The success of MicroWiki resulted in the birth of the MicroWiki community shortly after MicroWiki's founding in 2005, which has existed on various platforms inlcuding Talk pages, Skype, Reddit and Discord, among others.
Numerous influential micronations were founded in the early years of the MicroWiki community, many of which would prove to be instrumental in the development of the community. Of these included the Empire of Austenasia, Slinky Parliamentary Monarchy, Federal Republic of St. Charlie and Most Glorious People's Republic of A1. In 2008, Cesidio Tallini, a micropatriologist and early online micronationalist, founded his United Micronations Multi-Oceanic Archipelago. His endeavours included the Cesidian Root, likely the first DNS root for micronations, which was featured in several news articles. He is also known for his Fifth world theory, an early example of micropatriology.
MicroWiki in the early 2010s was in its infancy, mostly used by micronations such as Erusia, Petorio, Flandrensis, Federal Republic of St.Charlie, Atlantis, New Europe and the Empire of Austenasia. Due to the relatively new nature of the community, conflicts were constant, such as the New Euro-Erusian War. The early 2010s saw the renaissance of micronational organisations, with the Organisation of Active Micronations and the Grand Unified Micronational founded in 2009. In 2015, Liberland was founded by the Czech politician Vít Jedlička in the Danube region, on a disputed border between Croatia and Serbia. Liberland was featured extensively in international media, however the access to Liberland was cut off by Croatia shortly after the proclamation. This also sparked interest in the Danube region, with several new micronations being founded in other disputed areas on the border, such as the Kingdom of Enclava. In the present day, a new era of micronations have sprung up from a various of reasons, including discontent with macronational governments, to simulate running a country, or the typical reasons marked with eccentricism.
Micronationalist communities, particularly the MicroWiki community, experienced a surge in activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced people into their homes as stay-at-home orders became commonplace across the world. In addition, the subject of micronations would experience a large but brief growth in interest on Google in late November 2021.
Micronations and international relations
One of the defining factors of a micronation is its lack of recognition by a macronation. (lack of recognition by macros)
Diplomacy between micronation commonly occurs through the internet, utilising communication services such as social media, email or forums. Some of the earliest instances of diplomacy between micronations in the MicroWiki community relied on the Discussion pages, a phenomenon known as "talk page diplomacy". Since the advent of communication platforms such as Skype and Discord in which representatives of micronations can convene privately, "talk page diplomacy" has since become increasingly uncommon. As a result of communication platorms becoming more commonplace, the use of talk pages for inter-micronational diplomacy is sometimes viewed as unprofessional, especially in the case of newer micronations.
There has been a small but growing amount of attention paid to the micronation phenomenon in recent years. Most interest in academic circles has been concerned with studying the apparently anomalous legal situations affecting such entities as Sealand and the Hutt River Province, in exploring how some micronations represent grassroots political ideas, and in the creation of role-playing entities for instructional purposes.
In 2000, Professor Fabrice O'Driscoll, of the Aix-Marseille University, published a book about micronations: Ils ne siègent pas à l'ONU ("They are not in the United Nations"), with more than 300 pages dedicated to the subject.
Several recent publications have dealt with the subject of particular historic micronations, including Republic of Indian Stream (University Press), by Dartmouth College geographer Daniel Doan, The Land that Never Was, about Gregor MacGregor, and the Principality of Poyais, by David Sinclair (ISBN 0-7553-1080-2).
In May 2000, an article in the New York Times entitled "Utopian Rulers, and Spoofs, Stake Out Territory Online" brought the phenomenon to a wider audience for the first time. Similar articles were published by newspapers such as the French Liberation, the Italian La Repubblica, the Greek "Ta Nea", by O Estado de São Paulo in Brazil, and Portugal's Visão at around the same time.
The Democratic Empire of Sunda, which claims to be the Government of the Kingdom of Sunda (an ancient kingdom, in present-day Indonesia) in exile in Switzerland, made media headlines when two so-called princesses, Lamia Roro Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misri, 21, and Fathia Reza Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misiri, 23, were detained by Malaysian authorities at the border with Brunei, on 13 July 2007, and are charged for entering the country without a valid pass.
The Principality of Hutt River would be covered extensively by news organisations following its dissolution in August 2020, following which news outlets such as The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph reported on the dissolution and subsequent reunification with Australia.
Conferences, summits, exhibitions and meetings
In August 2003 a Summit of Micronations took place in Helsinki at Finlandia Hall, the site of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The summit was attended by delegations such as the Principality of Sealand, Neue Slowenische Kunst, Ladonia, the Transnational Republic, and by scholars from various academic institutions.
From 7 November through 17 December 2004, the Reg Vardy Gallery at the University of Sunderland hosted an exhibition on the subject of micronational group identity and symbolism. The exhibition focused on numismatic, philatelic and vexillological artefacts, as well as other symbols and instruments created and used by a number of micronations from the 1950s through to the present day. A summit of micronations conducted as part of this exhibition was attended by representatives of Sealand, Elgaland-Vargaland, New Utopia, Atlantium, Frestonia and Fusa. The exhibition was reprised at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York City from 24 June–29 July of the following year. Another exhibition about micronations opened at Paris' Palais de Tokyo in early 2007.
The Sunderland summit was later featured in a 5-part BBC light entertainment television series called "How to Start Your Own Country" presented by Danny Wallace. The series told the story of Wallace's experience of founding a micronation, Lovely, located in his London flat. It screened in the UK in August 2005. Similar programs have also aired on television networks in other parts of Europe.
We Could Have Invited Everyone was a recurring micronational summit in 2004 and 2005, featuring over twenty micronations, including delegations from Sealand and Atlantium.
On 9 September 2006, The Guardian newspaper reported that the travel guide company Lonely Planet had published the world's first travel guide devoted to micronations, the Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations (ISBN 1741047307).
The 2010s saw a renewed interest in micronational summits, with events like PoliNation 2012 in London featuring over 32 attendees. Smaller summits took place nearly every year until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In popular culture
- E. Peterbus Unum, the 18th episode of the animated sitcom Family Guy involves protagonist Peter Griffin establishing his home and yard as the micronation of Petoria.
- The Australian television comedy series Micro Nation is set on the fictional island micronation of Pullamawang, which remained independent from Australia because they "forgot to mail in their paperwork" at the Federation of Australia in 1901.
- Netflix released the film Rose Island based on the story of engineer Giorgio Rosa and the Republic of Rose Island in 2020.
- David Furnues (3 May 2022). "The Rise of Non-territorial Sovereignties and Micronations" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 May 2022. line feed character in
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- "The Lundy Field Society - 1925-1969". Retrieved 16 November 2021.
- "The Cesidian Root: A bizarre peek at the world wide weird". Fox News. 13 January 2017.
- ""Micronations" search interest". Google Analytics. 10 June 2022.
- Naaman Zhou and Ben Doherty, The Guardian (3 May 2022). "Hutt River micronation to rejoin Australia due to coronavirus pandemic". Archived from the original on 3 May 2022.
- Nic White, Daily Mail (3 May 2022). "Outback 'micronation' that declared independence 50 years ago and charged $4 for tourist visas will rejoin Australia as the land is sold to pay growing tax debt". Archived from the original on 3 May 2022.
- Giovanni Torre (3 May 2022). "Hutt River micronation rejoins Australia after 50 years of independence". Archived from the original on 3 May 2022.
- "Micro Nation". Australian Television Information Archive. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
- "Rose Island: Netflix adapts the story of 'prince of anarchists' Giorgio Rosa". BBC. 7 December 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
- Anonymous (2003-07-24). "Prince finds if all else fails, secede." The Daily Telegraph. Sydney.
- Blumburg, Alex (March 2000). "It's Good to Be King". Wired. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
- Clanton, Adam, "The Men Who Would Be King: Forgotten Challenges to U.S. Sovereignty", UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1, Fall 2008, pp. 1–50.
- Dapin, Mark (2005-02-12). "If at first you don't secede ...". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Fulgini, Bruno (1997). L'État C'est Moi: Histoire des monarchies privées, criptarchies [L'État C'est Moi: History of private monarchies and cryptarchies].
- Kochta & Kalleinen, editors. Amorph! 03 Summit of Micronations–Documents/Asiakirjoja, 2003, ISBN 3-936919-45-3
- Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt. "'Republics of the Reefs': Nation-Building on the Continental Shelf and in the World's Oceans", California Western International Law Journal, vol. 25, no. 1, Fall 1994, pp. 81–111
- Needham, Peter (2006-09-26). "Born to rule." The Australian.
- Squires, Nick (2005-02-24). "Mini-states Down Under are sure they can secede." The Daily Telegraph.
- Strauss, Owen (1984). How to Start Your Own Country. Loompanics. ISBN 0915179016.