Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fun Friday Facts #90: Micronations

Micronations, if you’re not familiar with the term, are small, self-proclaimed nations that aren’t recognized by other nations, and therefore aren’t really countries, because in order to be a real nation, your nation has to be recognized by other nations that are recognized by other nations. It’s not clear who does the initial recognizing, but from the sound of things it’s the NATO Cheerleading Team.

You’ve probably heard of the Principality of Sealand, a nation located on an abandoned World War II-era anti-aircraft sea fort seven miles off the coast of England. Sealand’s royal family are the Bates, who claim that the nation, though not officially recognized by any other nation, has been de facto recognized by both the British court system (which found, in 1968, that it did not have jurisdiction over the sea fort under the laws of the period) and Germany, which nation was forced to send a diplomat to Sealand in 1978.

Why? Alexander Achenbach, dual citizen of Sealand and Germany, staged a coup while the royal couple, Prince Paddy Roy Bates and his wife, was traveling “abroad” in England. Achenbach, who styles himself the Prime Minister of Sealand, assembled troops somehow and saw fit to take the heir to the Sealand throne hostage. Prince Bates squashed the rebellion, charged Achenbach with treason, and refused to release him unless he paid a fine of DM 75,000, the equivalent of $35,000 at the time. The UK refused to intervene, since it wasn’t its jurisdiction, and the next thing you know, Germany’s sending a diplomat.

Just so we’re clear, Germany sent a diplomat to this:

People fought over this. With guns, even. Because it's deffo worth fighting over a country that's eventually going to rust and fall into the sea.

The Principality of Sealand was briefly for sale, but shockingly, there were no takers. Well, except for Pirate Bay, but either they couldn’t pony up the ONE BILLION DOLLAR asking price, or the royal family were morally opposed, but I’d put my money on the first thing because Prince Roy Bates got his start in pirate radio broadcasting.

Incidentally, Achenbach founded a Sealandic government-in-exile that presumably sits around in Germany bitching about not getting to rule a broken-down, rusted-out shit-box of a sea fort. Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.

Within the borders of the United States, the Republic of Molossia is located at 226 Mary Lane, Dayton, NV. President Kevin Baugh reportedly rules the nation with an iron fist, as it is a military dictatorship.

Military dictators aren't supposed to smile, President Baugh.

Image credit: Republic of Molossia

In addition to the one acre or so of land President Baugh and his family occupy in Nevada, the Republic of Molossia lays claim to the Desert Homestead Province, a parcel of land in Southern California, and Vesperia, a significant portion of the plant Venus. Molossia remains embroiled in a bitter war with East Germany, and has issued War Bonds at the rate of three dollars apiece.

The world’s oldest micronation is the Principality of Seborga in Italy, which traces its sovereignty all the way back to the year 954, which is pretty respectable even by the standards of nations who are recognized by nations who are recognized by nations. According to local resident Giorgio Carbone, in that year the principality passed into the hands of the Benedictine Monks of Santo Onorato of Lerins, the abbot of which monastery was made a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1079. The principality was sold to the House of Savoy in 1729, but when the 1815 Congress of Vienna reassigned European territories after the Napoleonic Wars, they failed to reassign poor little Seborga. Nor was Seborga mentioned at all in Italy’s 1861 Act of Unification. So, technically, Seborga is still an independent nation and also, technically, Italy is a younger nation than the United States, which is neither here nor there but is definitely something to mention the next time you’re talking to one of those snobby Europeans, also known as “one of those Europeans.”

Here's the Government Palace of Seborga, isn't it grand.

Image credit: Rolf Palmberg

The Principality of Wy, located in Australia in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, declared itself in 2004 after an unresolved 14-year dispute with the local council and community over the construction of a driveway for the self-styled Prince Paul Ashton Delprat. Prince Paul, who is the great grandson of Australian artist Julian Ashton, is a patron of the arts and his nation sponsors exhibitions and an art prize. No word on whether or not he ever got the driveway.