Micronations of the World

Explore these mock sovereign states fueled by local disputes, utopian idealism and the imaginations of a few eccentric individuals

Established in 954 near the Italian Riviera, Seborga managed to maintain its independence because it was overlooked by the succession of rulers who took over this part of the world. (Owen Franken / Corbis)

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Independence isn't entirely a new concept here. Prior to 1951 when Annapolis annexed Eastport, it was a separate town, home to watermen and servants who worked for the well-heeled folks across the creek.

Today's "Eastportoricans" are a mix of watermen, artists, musicians, and people who Holt says try to make a party out of almost everything. "The MRE has evolved into an organization that does events for local charities: the ASPCA, the Annapolis Maritime Museum, the civil air patrol. …We do have an election, and if you don't show up for it, you'll get an office. Maybe as the Minister of Old Dusty Things."

Other micronations of note:

The Freetown of Christiania (Denmark): Established by hippies in 1969, this 85-acre enclave of Copenhagen prides itself on being a commune free of cars, guns and hard drugs. Galleries, artists' workshops, music clubs and restaurants line the main strip of Pusher Street. Residents run a communal bathhouse, kindergarten and recycling program. And each Christmas, this counterculture micronation hosts a feast for "the poor and lonely."

Principality of Hutt River (Australia): After the Australian government imposed quotas on the amount of wheat farmers could harvest in 1969, Leonard Casley left the country. Literally. He seceded his 29-square-mile wedge of Western Australia. Casley, a.k.a. Prince Leonard, still grows wheat, but he's diversified his micronation's economy by marketing wildflowers, sheep, and, well, himself. Hutt River visitors get guided tours of the buildings, the royal family's art collection and can take a dip in the royal swimming pool.

Conch Republic (United States): The Florida Keys, a string of islands off the south of Florida, certainly vie for the title of prettiest micronation. They seceded in 1982 after an immigration checkpoint threatened to cut off all traffic on Highway 1, the only road connecting the islands to the mainland. Conch sums up its foreign policy in one sentence: "The Mitigation of World Tension through the Exercise of Humor." Key West, the republic's capital, is loaded with brightly colored buildings, jewel-toned tropical plants and sandy beaches. With all this, who really needs the mainland?

Principality of Sealand: An abandoned World War II fort set six miles off the English coast in the North Sea sounds like the perfect spot for anyone hiding from the law. And that's what brought two pirate radio operators to the steel-and-concrete installation in the late '60s. One of them, Paddy Roy Bates, turned the place into his own country. And despite a coup attempt and a massive fire, he's still in charge. Each man indeed is an island.


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