The Daily Need

The Kingdom of Zarahemla, and other ‘micronations’

Updated | March 11 There’s a reason the United Nations refers to its constituent states as “members” and not “nations,” apparently: The organization’s leaders aren’t actually sure how many nations there really are.

That’s because the world also has hundreds of so-called “micronations,” unofficial nation-states that for various reasons have not been recognized by world governments or legitimate international organizations. The U.N. does not keep a registry of all the nations in the world, nor do U.N. officials consider it within their purview to decide what constitutes a legitimate country and what doesn’t.

When Canadian filmmaker Jody Shapiro asked the U.N. how many countries there are, officials there told him, “We are not an authority on the topic. Please consult your local library or world almanac.” Shapiro, who’s debuting a new film called “How to Start Your Own Country,” told Mother Jones in an interview that the U.N. doesn’t actually keep track.

Most “micronations” are tiny tracts of land or even backyards. Their governments are just a handful of people — or one single head of state, in some cases — who have decided for one reason or another to declare independence from the countries their territories are located in. There’s Sealand, for example — a former World War II sea fort off the coast of England — and the Republic of Molossia, which has its headquarters in Dayton, Nevada.

President Kevin Baugh of Molossia. Photo: howtostartyourowncountry.com

As Shapiro told Mother Jones, these “micronations” are case-studies in do-it-yourself democracy (although some are not actually democracies at all). They have political institutions, diplomatic relations with other “micronations,” even flags and national anthems. The Kingdom of Zarahemla — a self-described “kingdom-in-exile” waiting until its rightful home, the planet Mars, is inhabitable — is a “parliamentary democracy” with a royal family, a House of Commons and a constitution, according to its website.

When Shapiro visited some of these unrecognized states, he found that they often had substantive reasons for founding their own countries, as in the case of Prince Leonard of the Hutt River Principality in Australia:

I take Prince Leonard very seriously when he said he did it for survival. He formed a self-preservation government, which he claims was his right to do under the constitution, because his livelihood was threatened, and he felt that the only way to survive was to secede. Everybody’s sort of got their reasons for doing it, I feel.

Of course, not every micronation takes its obligations as a sovereign state as seriously. Some micronations simply exist online, as figments in the imaginations of their self-declared regents. A popular registry for micronations, www.listofmicronations.com, divides the community into “physical micronations” and “virtual micronations.” The virtual micronations, according to the site, are those that “exist solely in an electronic context,” or that are “comprised of entirely fictional elements.”

That’s not to say that micronations aren’t sometimes forced to grapple with the dilemmas of other, more legitimate governments. As Shapiro found in the course of making his film, micronations occasionally get asylum requests from refugees escaping war-torn countries. As Shapiro put it: “If you take yourself seriously, there are other people in the world who are going to take you very seriously.”

[via Mother Jones]

This post initially attributed the site www.listofmicronations.com to Claudio de Castro.

 
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Comments

  • Riffers21

    Does the Republic of Molossia still pay property tax to the State of Nevada then?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=56702905 Britt Hollis

    This is great.

  • JBcolo

    None of the examples seem like what anybody would consider a nation in the sense of a group of people having some legitamate claim of sovreignty on some piece of territory, which just happens to be small, like some indiginous minority that predominates in a particular locality of a larger overall country, or perhaps some piddling principality like Andora or Monaco.

    These all look like kooks (often dangerous) who declared them selves their own country – akin to the tax-dodger “sovreign citizen” movements that often overlap with militia and white sepratist movements (and paradoxically, Wesley Snipes).

  • HMSpenceofzarahemla

    The last time I spoke with President Baugh of Molossia, he said that he pays a gift of foreign aid from the treasury of Molossia to the US government along with a Tax form, and he does the same for the property tax to the State of Nevada. The Zarahemlan position on this same subject matter is that The Royal Residence in Exle, in Las Vegas, Nevada is not Zarahemlan, but indeed is US territory and we are dual citizens. So, Zarahemlans are encouraged to pay taxes and obey US and state laws.

    I am Spence, King of Zarahemla

  • Xhéralt Conä

    Call it polite fiction if you will, but a typical standpoint used by micronations (such as the original Kingdom of Talossa, http://talossa1979.com ) who have territory co-located with real nations is that infrastructure and utility concerns are “outsourced” to the nation encysting them. Granted, that word hadn’t even been coined in 1979, but it fits the situation.

    The other thing is, no matter where you are, one’s “country” is where one *feels* one belongs. You can stand in the Greater Talossan Area (a.k.a the East Side of Milwaukee, WI) and be a US citizen, or be a Talossan (original, or one of the breakaway entities also using the name), or even part of “the Barony of Caer Antwerth Mawr in the Kingdom of Northsheild” (as the Society for Creative Anacronism would style it). It is equal parts coexistance and solipsism, and there’s room enough for everyone.

    But I, for one, am a Talossan. And being able to disavow Wisconsin is beginning to look more and more attractive these days… ;)

    Xhéralt “Del’Encradeir” Conä, former Prime Minister of Talossa

    P.S. Greetings to my good friend, HRH Spence!

  • Devil’s Advocate

    @JBcolo:

    What’s wrong with dodging taxes, when they don’t actually go to any social programs? (Grace Report.)

  • Tebeakesse

    There is the longstanding Empire of Tebeakesse. Originally formed in 1981.
    I am the Chancellor, leader of this nation. Former Secretary-General of the LoSS. Now a Justice of it’s Courts.

    Jim Bentz, Chancellor, Empire of Tebeakesse

  • Ben

    Long live the Unified Republic of Thantias – thantias.co.cc

    HOW DARE THEY SAY LoSS is the UN of micronations? THATS THE OAM!!!

  • President Nicholas

    Each Micronational Sector in fact has its own “UN” of micronations. The MicroWiki sector, which many inhabit, has the OAM. I am also a founder of a micronation.

    http://zonianconfederacy.co.cc/

  • George Cruickshank

    Please note that the sole author and owner of http://www.listofmicronations.com is George Cruickshank, as noted on the site’s copyright notice.

    listofmicronations.com has no relationship with Claudio de Castro or the “League of Secessionist States”.

  • sgTomT

    Hey, who forgot to mention the OAM?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WLGI2ECJWKKDVW3V7RKVR7T6ZM Gary

    wtf happened to my comment? Why is it now missing? I though I made some salient points about a micro’s relation to real-world (and other co-existent micros)

    – Xheralt “Delencradier” –
    Citizen and former Prime Minister of the original (KRI) Kingdom of Talossa.

  • Eddie

    They pay property taxes and income tax to US governments, so they are not a nation or anything like one.

  • Eddie

    They pay property taxes and income tax to US governments, so they are not a nation or anything like one.

  • Grant JNR

    I declared part of my land a independent micronation on March 23rd 2014. I am king grant of the monarchy of comet, my micronation. :)