Grand Duchy of Westarctica
Size: 1,610,000 km2 Population: 0, usually Ruler: Jon-Lawrence Langer, Grand Duke of Westarctica
Westarctica is a wild stretch of Western Antarctica, unclaimed until 2001, when an American by the name of Travis McHenry founded it via a supposed loophole in the Antarctic Treaty, a set of agreements regarding how the international community treats Antarctica. Essentially, the Antarctic Treaty prohibits countries from claiming territory in Western Antarctica, but it does not specifically prohibit individuals from doing so. McHenry claimed his territory, then founded a country. As micronational leaders often do, he sent letters to various world governments informing them of this, but was quietly ignored. Antarctica has no native human population, and as such Westarctica has no year-round citizens. However, some research facilities have been stationed there, and the micronation both prints stamps and mints coins, which are available to collectors for purchase. In 2005, McHenry tried to annex both the Balleny Islands and Peter I Island to grow Westarctica, but nobody really took it seriously – the land already belong to New Zealand and Norway, anyways.
Nation of Celestial Space
Size: The Entire Universe (minus Earth) Population: Unknown? Ruler: Founder & First Representative James Thomas Mangan
In 1949, American James Mangan went to the office of the Recorder of Deeds and Titles in Cook County, Illinois and laid claim to the entirety of space. The goal was to claim it on behalf of all of humanity, so that no one country might claim territory in space later. In 1948, Mangan presumably penned The Declaration by the Nation of Celestial Space, asserting that Celestia’s aim was to "secure for sympathetic people, wherever they may live, the beauties and benefits of a vast domain yet unclaimed by any state or nation." The idea of Celestia seems to have died along with its founder, but it did receive a rare honor for a micronation in 1958, when its flag was flown at the United Nations building in New York City along with those of the other members of the United Nations.
Size: 0.0004 km2 Population: Varied Ruler: President Giorgio Rosa
In 1967, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa created a man-made platform off the coast of Rimini, Italy. It had a number of amenities to cater to tourists, including a restaurant, nightclub, and souvenir shop. In 1968, Rosa declared independence from Italy, and the Italian government’s reaction was not the typical response of world governments (to largely ignore the micronational leader). Rather, Italian authorities saw Rosa’s project as an attempt at making tourism money while avoiding paying taxes. Four military police officers and tax collectors were dispatched to the island to take control. After seizing control of the platform, the Italian Navy used explosives to dramatically detonate the platform, annihilating it entirely.
Size: One Boat Population: Varied Ruler: Werner Stiefel
Operation Atlantis was a project headed by Werner Stiefel and launched in 1971, which aimed to create a libertarian community in international waters, free of the control of any larger national government. Stiefel and his associates supposedly hoped to create an artificial island in the Carribean, but the voyage was ill-fated from the beginning. They launched in the Hudson River at high tide, but when the tide went out the ship was left stranded in the mud. It was top-heavy, and it nearly capsized when the structure began to ice over while crossing New York harbor. A propeller shaft broke off later, near South Carolina. Finally, it limped its way into the Bahamas and set down anchor, but sunk during a hurricane.
Kingdom of Talossa
Size: 13 km2 , plus a large stretch of Antarctica. Population: 120 Ruler: King John I
14-year-old Wisconsin native Robert Madison founded the Kingdom of Talossa in 1979, initially claiming only his bedroom. As he grew up, he claimed more territory, eventually including a large part of Milwaukee’s East Side and two islands in Antarctica and France. Talossa developed in obscurity throughout Madison’s teen years, but was featured in notable publications like The New York Times and Wired, and subsequently appeared in newspapers and magazines world-wide. Most of Talossa’s “citizens” (more accurately “members”, perhaps) came to know Talossa through Madison’s website. Eventually, some of Talossa’s citizens became frustrated with Madison, suggesting that he had become autocratic and generally intolerable in his actions as leader, which included trumping up false charges of domestic abuse against one of his citizens. About 20 citizens seceded from the micronation, starting their own micronation called The Republic of Talossa. The most recent leader, John Woolley, was chosen in 2007, so this one is still going strong.
Whether or not these micronations are considered legal sovereign states by other nations (they aren’t), the fact still remains that they are intriguing experiments in nation creation and force discussion on what precisely being independent from a larger government actually means. Even when they’re just created for fun, the results are worth examination. Weird Worm encourages you to further investigate your favorite – you just might be able to become a citizen yourself!
Written by Christopher Moyer – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com