To believe that the world will always make sense in every expanse of its existence is but a nonsensical proposition in itself. With the human humor habituated in harbouring infinite potential to entertain as eccentric elements of essence as (im)possibly can be, it is but no surprise that such acts in considerable audacity should more often than not come to characterise the whole planetary identity itself. Whether that be in creating nations within countries or declaring territories out of nowhere, the powerful quest for independence manifests all throughout. Usually small and always self proclaimed, these so called micronations fail to gain any sort of recognition outside of their own consideration in ‘sovereignty’ but surprisingly continue to persist still in the amusing might of their extraordinary holding in own confidence. The reasons might vary as to what leads people to declare for themselves territories in such non existent essences but the capturing of the world imagination by these nations of own notions both in declaration and governance sure is dominant enough. Macroing into some such (meaningless) micronations existing upon this very earth of a curiosity too many-
One of the many book towns of the world, redolent in a charm almost otherworldly, the pretty premises of Hay-on-Wye located in the country of Wales in the United Kingdom resides in yet another identity as being one of the handful of the micronations that characterise very much this same globe. Sometime after the picturesque small town had earned for itself the distinctive beauty of being a book paradise, Hay-on-Wye came to be declared as an independent kingdom by the very name who had helped this once little known abode chart out its own course in bookish fame.
Founded thus in 1977 by Richard Booth in an attempt to escape from the grip of a government not particularly interested in upholding the essence and identity of the town and endow it therefore with a more ‘dignified’ identity, Hay-on-Wye went on to emerge as a micronation indeed, existing for almost three decades till 2005 as an entity of its own when ‘King’ Booth decided to move to Germany. Interestingly hence, even in its alluding to the farcical almost self exaltation as a micronation, Hay-on-Wye’s image of all its own independent essence further bolstered the status of this place as a small market town to one as a venerable global tourism hotspot.
Perhaps the most ‘proper’ micronation of the world to exist today, Sealand is another English territory that sees itself as an independent entity in line with the vision of its founder Paddy Roy Bates. Deemed independent in 1967 by Bates- a claim that he substantiated less than a decade later rather assertively by introducing the country’s own constitution, national flag, national anthem and even a currency and passports, Sealand however isn’t a geographic territory as such. Instead, the Principality of Sealand encompasses what was once constructed by the British Government as the Roughs Tower as an illegal fortress on international waters during the times of the Second Wold War.
Bates’ path in claiming independence for this area which he termed Sealand was made convenient by this very basis of its classifying as an extra national territory, that which he embarked upon actually to circumvent then prevalent UK laws governing pirate radio stations. A pirate radio broadcaster himself, Bates declared himself Prince Roy and his wife Joan as princess and ‘ruled’ over his kingdom embodying the motto, E Mare Libertas: “From the sea, freedom” till 2012 when he was ‘succeeded’ by his son Michael Bates.
Forget constitution and currency, flag and anthem, and all such constructs in earthly physicality. For the even more intriguing micronation of Asgardia aims instead to make the expansive realm of space itself, claiming for itself the identity of being “the first nation to have all of its territory in space.” With even their own satellite Asgardia-1, that which in fact set the premise for Asgardia to take form, founded as it is by the group of people who launched it into the earth’s orbit, the new nation came into being on October 12, 2016 as one seeking to avoid the restrictions imposed by the existing space law framework.
With a substantial population of 2,90,000 currently, the Space Kingdom of Asgardia is a significant entity in its own right- and one that even lives by its own definition of time through its exclusive calendar that distributes the year over a 13 month period each composing of 28 days. Talk about aiming high and there’s Asgardia for you waiting with open arms to catapult one directly into the embrace of the infinite cosmos.
Emerging out of an artistic ambition has been the micronation of Ladonia from within the larger identity of a Swedish nationality at the behest of visual artist Lars Vilks in 1996. The motive behind the establishment of this independent kingdom is aptly summed up in its motto of To Each His Own, coming into being as it did as a full fledged nation of only own recognition however. Encompassing part of the Kullaberg natural reserve in southern Sweden is this prominent tourist attraction of today, that which was eked out of a prolonged legal battle between the Swedish artist and the corresponding government.
More specifically, Ladonia is ‘made up’ of two of Vilks’ designed sculptures namely Nimis and Arx that which was disputed at one time as being constructions forbidden within the premise of the reserve. Set to be dismantled, it was the creator of these pieces of art who protested against the move and devised this ingenious way out of earning the highest accolade for his creativity by declaring the area surrounding Nimis as an independent territory, complete with a Queen and a Prime Minister.
Republic of Saugeais
Self proclaimed of course an identity in itself but one that unfurled more as a joke than as something harbouring a definite sense of purpose, the Republic of Saugeais located in the département of Doubs makes for a rather ‘laidback’ micronation. Emerging rather early in 1947 has been this spinoff of a just banter episode, with a certain hotel owner Georges Pouchet of Montbenoit coming up with an on the spot idea in indulging in some light hearted humor with the then visiting prefect of Doubs. And thus there entailed the saga of what is today one of the world’s longest running micronations, with a prime minister, a general secretary, few ambassadors and some honorary citizens to back up this claim in absolute nothingness.
What’s more, while the Republic of Saugeais also has its own national anthem for folks to sing along to in its self derived pride, the dignity of distinction of this particular micronation is one particularly eminent. With a postal stamp commemorating the republic issued by the French Postal Service itself in 1987 followed by the release of a bank note a decade later, this particular partaking of the essence necessarily embodying an entire nation though in micro manifestations makes for a global case in unlikely enough recognition.
The Kingdom of Romkerhall- the smallest kingdom in the world as it identifies itself as might not be exactly commanding of the micronation mention for the mere fact that it is just a hotel in Germany. But a popular tourist attraction still what with a namesake waterfall that which also occurs as a part of the ‘kingdom’, this abode of prettiness bringing upon itself also the status of being a legit country- of course by its own avail- in 1988 makes for a peculiar still option worth exploring at least for its picturesque prominence if not so much for its significant smallness.
A nation that does not even exist, whether in its micro assertion or otherwise, Nutopia makes for perhaps one of the most curious of spaces when it comes to charting independence. Envisioned by none other than music legend John Lennon together with artist Yoko Ono as a ‘conceptual country’ at best with nothing at all to its claim, not even some land at least, Nutopia encompasses only the idea of a new utopian society. Its name in fact is a portmanteau of new and utopia, introduced in 1973 as a means to end Lennon’s persisting immigration issue but dissolved soon thereafter in 1976. For all its non existence though, Nutopia still had for its flag a white tissue and a Nutopian International Anthem composed of four seconds of silence making for one of the most remarkable of micronations (or not!) to ever warrant conception.
Sweden boasts of not one but two artistic micronations with Ladonia only following its compatriot of the territory of Elgaland-Vargaland established in 1992. Derived out of the names of its founders, Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren, this conceptual art project cum micronation alludes to an even ‘extreme’ definition in its identification. With its own flag and national anthem as well as yielding the power to issue stamps and passports, Elgaland-Vargaland asserts itself as being the borders of other countries.
With a number of art exhibitions aka embassies furthering its dual claim in art and territory, this another intriguing breakthrough world ‘space’ might be non existent in its physicality but its claim extend to what can be referred to as interstitial territories, marking transition across states of being in their perception. Ruled by its founding Kings with some 980 members, with even a regard for dead people as citizens, KonungaRikena Elgaland-Vargaland or KREV indeed asserts as art, abstract perhaps if not really representational.