A Small Look At Micronations


Many people dream of becoming kings or queens and to reign supreme over great nations.  Unfortunately, opportunities to take over existing countries are few and far between1.  Some ambitious individuals, however, have sidestepped1 the problem by establishing their own.  Also known as “model countries” or “new country projects,” micronations are small entities2 with very few residents that nevertheless claim to be sovereign states.  Though small, micronations share many traits with “conventional” nations. 


Founding a micronation is simple.  Individuals simply declare independence2 from their resident countries and take on the basic functions of an independent nation.  For example, they can design flags, establish political offices, compose national anthems, or attempt to establish diplomatic relations3 with other countries.  Founders have different goals and motivations for beginning their countries.  Most micronations are started as experimental political projects, or founded by disgruntled3 citizens wishing to distance themselves from their own countries.  Others are tongue-in-cheek4 gimmicks designed to attract publicity or tourist revenue.  Some, meanwhile, are crafty schemes to exploit legal loopholes.

One of the most famous micronations is the former Republic of Rose Island.  In 1967 Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa constructed a 400-square-meter floating platform and towed5 it into the Aegean Sea.  The “island” included a restaurant, bar, night club, gift shop and even a post office, from which patrons could purchase stamps and mail off souvenir postcards. On June 24, 1968 Rosa declared independence from Italy and appointed himself president of the new “republic.”  For his new country, he developed an original currency, flag and coat of arms4.

Tension between Rose Island and mainland Italy soon resulted in a “war” between the two nations.   The Italian government seized control of the platform, suspecting that Rosa was trying to generate tourist dollars while using the sovereignty of the island as a ruse6 to avoid paying taxes.  Rosa called the aggressive move an unlawful “military occupation.”  After evicting7 Rosa, the Italian military destroyed the island with dynamite.  Today, Rosa considers himself to be president of Rose Island’s “government in exile8.”

Some individuals have established micronations in international waters.  These present a valuable opportunity for criminal enterprises, such as data havens, pirate radio stations and hubs for online gambling.  In 1967, British radio pirate Paddy Roy Bates occupied HM Fort Roughs, an abandoned WWII anti-aircraft platform located six miles off the coast of mainland U.K.  Because the fort sits in international waters, Bates planned to use it as a venue9 for his pirate radio station.

Unfortunately for Bates, however, a new British Law called the Marine Broadcasting Act of 1967 prohibited all British nationals from participating in pirate broadcasting—even when outside the country.  To circumvent10 the law, Bates simply declared independence from the U.K. and renamed the fort “The Principality of Sealand.”  However, he soon found that the resulting publicity was more profitable than his pirate radio venture, and he shifted his concentration to maintaining his new country.  To this day, the Bates family continues to sell passports and titles of nobility11 as well as a slew12 of other merchandise through the official Sealand website.  Currently, approximately 50 residents call Sealand home.

There are countless micronations all around the world.  In micronation formation, Australia currently leads the pack5, with dozens of tiny countries scattered around the continent.  Although micronations are established for many reasons and vary in terms of their size and structure, all micronations have one thing in common:  They are invariably unrecognized by “legitimate13” countries.  Still, this doesn’t stop micronations from forming alliances14 with one another.  Some people have even branched into cybernations, or countries that lack physical borders.  In today’s modern world, the possibilities are endless.

  1. sidestep (v.)  迴避問題
  2. entity (n.)實體;存在
  3. disgruntled (adj.)不滿的;不高興的
  4. tongue-in-cheek (adj.)       開玩笑的
  5. tow (v.)拖;拉
  6. ruse (n.)        詭計;花招
  7. evict (v.)        驅逐;趕走
  8. exile (n.)流亡
  9. venue (n.)地點;場所
10. circumvent (v.)      規避(法規等)
11. nobility (n.)   貴族(階層)
12. slew (n.)  (口)許多
13. legitimate (adj.)    合法的;依法的
14. alliance (n.)   結盟;同盟

Phrases, etc.
  1. few and far between (adj. phr.)稀有的;難得的
  2. declare independence (v. phr.)  宣布獨立
  3. diplomatic relation (n. phr.)外交關係
  4. coat of arms (n. phr.)(用作標誌的)紋章
  5. lead the pack (v. phr.)  居領先地位