Want to Be the Ultimate Entrepreneur? Here's How to Start Your Own Micronation.
Most people dutifully pay taxes, vote and participate as a citizen in their country. However, some people, for various reasons, become dissatisfied with belonging to an existing country and decide to set up their own.
These new nation founders might consist of a family, a handful of people of similar political views or a group who share a way of life and want to start an intentional community. It’s not that hard to set up a micronation, or tiny country, although there are challenges, including finding money to buy land or an island somewhere.
The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States of 1933 set down the basic features that a country must have to declare itself an independent nation (population, territory and government). Beyond these factors, essential elements such as currency, taxation and legal systems, and the type of government your new micronation will have are important for other countries to take your new country seriously, but not mandatory.
Reports vary on how many micronations exist; this Google Map plots 80 of them. Although none are officially recognized as independent countries, the trend for breakaway micronations forming seems to be continuing. Here’s a roadmap of the steps needed to set up a new micronation.
Meet the Qualifications
Montevideo Convention of 1933 was a treaty ratified by American nations, which defined exactly what qualifications any country, including micronations, needed to have.
Make a Plan
You should decide essentials in advance, such as a name for your country, what official language it will have and what sort of financial system you will use. Consider things like the design for your flag, creating an original national anthem and what your national symbols might be.
The micronation of Sealand in the UK has its owns stamps, currency, flag (pictured) and issues passports. Liberland, on the Danube River, has its own website, flag and national motto.
You only need one person to qualify as a micronation, and most have less than 15 people.
You need to have a functioning government capable of making decisions and interacting with other countries. Democracy is not necessary.
The type of government your new country has does not affect its ability to become a new nation. You can have a dictatorship, oligarchy or any form of government you choose.
Develop a Legal System
Do you want to adopt an existing legal code or come up with your own laws? When Indonesia declared independence in 1945, leaders chose to adopt a blend of local customary and Dutch colonial laws. Other countries, such as former British colonies India and Australia, use the English legal system.
Several micronations use cryptocurrencies as their national currency. One of the advantages of this form of wealth storage is that other governments — which may dispute the legitimacy of a micronation — can’t seize or confiscate digital currency. This also simplifies tax collection and money storage. The new country’s finances could increase as cryptocurrency investments go up in value.
Financing Your Country
You need to decide how you will raise money for your micronation. All countries, even small ones, need money to pay for essential services and infrastructure, such as water and power, buildings and roads. Will you tax your citizens? Does your new country have any natural resources it can sell? Will you charge entry visas? Will you seek tourism revenue? You’ll need to decide.
The tiny country of Naminara (pictured), inside the Republic of Korea but diplomatically and culturally independent, has become a popular tourist destination, drawing more than 3.3 million visitors annually.
The Principality of Hutt River, a breakaway micronation located in Australia, was established by farmer Leo Casley in 1970, receives about 40,000 visitors a year and requires payment of a visa fee to enter.
Tax Haven Revenue
You can make your micronation a tax haven for international companies and charge them to register within your country. The Principality of Hutt River in Australia has accepted company registrations since 2004.
You can’t have a country without land, so you need to find a place that is either unclaimed, abandoned, disputed, for sale or can be artificially created.
Buy an Island
You can buy your own island. However, if that island is already part of an existing country, that country may claim it as part of their territory.
If you can buy an island that is more than 12 nautical miles offshore outside another country’s territorial waters, though, then you stand a good chance of being able to declare independence.
North Dumpling Island is privately owned by Segway inventor Dean Kamen. He set up the island as a new micronation after a dispute with the U.S. government over a wind turbine. Kamen even signed a non-aggression pact once with President George H.W. Bush, fulfilling the Montevideo Convention stipulation of being able to negotiate with other countries.
Claim an Undiscovered Island
Most existing islands in the world are either already claimed or inhabited. Thanks to satellite imagery and digital tools, such as Google Maps, most of the world is already mapped. However, some areas are still poorly mapped, according to the BBC. Don’t rule out being able to find a new island.
Make an Island
In 1972, millionaire Michael Oliver created an artificial island on top of two atolls in the Pacific, calling it the Republic of Minerva.
Build a Floating Island
If you can buy an abandoned structure at sea, such as an oil rig, you may be able to set up your own country. That was the Bates family’s solution when they bought a World War II sea fort in 1967 and declared it to be the sovereign nation of Sealand. The principality has a flag, its own currency and passports, and a population of four.
The Floating City Project is attempting to build independent floating cities within the territorial waters of other countries in return for creating a special economic sea-zone.
Take Over Unclaimed or Abandoned Places
A Libertarian activist founded the micronation of Liberland on a three-mile-square piece of unclaimed land near the Croatian-Serbian border in 2015. Liberland has a government and a cryptocurrency finance system.
The community of Freetown Christiania is based in an abandoned military base in a suburb of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. Roughly 900 people live in Christiana, a community with its own rules and regulations, including openly selling cannabis, which is illegal in Denmark.
Declare Your Micronation
When you’re ready to show off your new micronation, don’t be shy. There’s no formal process for declaring your micronation. So do it how you feel. Or don’t. Your micronation, your choice.
Join the United Nations
According to the United Nations, any new country can apply to join as a member nation by submitting a letter of application and getting approval from the UN Security Council. If the Council approves the application, it is sent to the General Assembly for a vote. A two-thirds majority is needed to accept the application. If all goes well, the new nation’s UN membership starts the same day that a successful vote takes place.
Photos: Naminara Republic
Photos: Freetown Christiania
Vit Jedlicka, self-declared president of Liberland, looks at his phones in a private compound in 2015.
Photos: North Dumpling Island
North Dumpling Island, located in the waters between Connecticut and Long Island, New York, is owned by Segway founder Dean Kamen (pictured).
Photos: Principality of Hutt River