Amazing Places

5 Fascinating Micronations Around the World

There are few things more ambitious than saying "so long" to big government and becoming the ruler of your very own country. Surprisingly though, starting a micronation — a self-proclaimed independent country not recognized by a real government — isn't all that uncommon. Experts estimate that hundreds of different micronations exist around the world, many products of protests, secession, and sometimes just some good old childhood fun. The next time you feel like running away to a new country, take inspiration from these particularly fascinating micronations and consider creating one of your own.

President Kevin Baugh

Molossia, NV, USA

When high-school students started this mock dictatorship near Reno, Nevada four decades ago as a school project, its de facto ruler Kevin Baugh never intended it be a serious micronation. Today though, this quirky self-declared sovereign nation of 33 people (mostly expats, dogs, and Kevin's family) is in full swing. Subsisting mainly as a popular tourist trap, Molossia offers 45-minute guided tours of the country — as long as you bring your passport and leave your firearms, walruses, and anything from Texas at home.

Freetown Christiania, Denmark

Established in 1971 as a hippie commune in protest of the Danish government, this micronation of 850 people has since been granted unique legal status by Danish authorities. Residents live an autonomous, bohemian way of life, and have set up a mix of homemade homes, art galleries, yoga studios, music venues, and other freewheeling establishments. But the most recognizable feature of Christiania is its open policy on cannabis trading, which occurs freely in the streets — an activity still illegal in the rest of Denmark.

Ladonia, Sweden

Artist Lars Vilks created this self-proclaimed sovereign nation in 1996 after more than a decade of legal battles with the Swedish government over his artwork. Vilks had constructed a 70-foot tall driftwood sculpture titled "Nimis" in the Kullaberg Nature Reserve in south Sweden — an area accessible only by water or a long hike. Once authorities discovered the sculpture, they ordered it to be torn down. But Lars refused and eventually, after years of fighting, proclaimed the area Ladonia and himself the Chancellor. Today, Nimis still stands and the nation of Ladonia claims more than 17,000 registered citizens.

Prince Leonard Bust in Hutt River

Principality of Hutt River, Australia

Made up of 25 square miles (75 square kilometers) of farmland, this micronation was started in 1970 as a way for its founder, Leonard George Casley, to secede from the Australian government. That was a response to the country's strict quotas on how much of his own wheat he could legally sell. Today, Hutt River remains unrecognized as a sovereign state by Australia, and it's still subject to the country's taxes and laws. But that's not stopping this crafty micronation from maintaining its independence. Hutt River boasts a whopping 18,000+ overseas citizens who have received residency online for a small fee.

Principality of Seborga, Italy

This well-known micronation in northwest Italy is the product of an accidental clerical omission during Italy's Unification movement of the 1860s, which involved a treaty deciding which Italian states would become the New Kingdom of Italy and which would be returned to France. Seborga was accidentally left off the list entirely and eventually defaulted to the Italian government. By the 1960s, however, this steadfast micronation had restored its independence, created its own currency and military, and appointed ambassadors around the world.

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Hear about more unusual locales in "Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies" by Alastair Bonnett. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Gabriel May 2, 2018

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