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What is a Micronation?

By S. Ashraf
Updated May 17, 2024
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A micronation is an entity that its creator proclaims to be an independent and legitimate state but which, in fact, is not recognized by any supranational organization or sovereign nation. It is possible for micronations to take several different forms. Micronations might actually be present in the physical world, exist only as an online entity on the Internet, live solely in the minds of their creators or embody some combination of these forms of existence. As a self-proclaimed entity, a micronation is usually established with the intention of resembling, replacing or sometimes mocking a recognized independent state. Although the creators of some micronations establish them for serious purposes, others are set up as a hobby, for entertainment or just as a stunt.

Given their different purposes, micronations can vary widely, but they do share some common features. Often, a micronation will be organized in a way that is very similar to an established sovereign state. Even though it is not a legally recognized or sovereign entity, a micronation might make claims to territory, have citizens, create official symbols such as flags and set up government institutions. It is not uncommon for micronations to bestow titles of nobility or other honors and to issue coins, banknotes, postage stamps and even passports. These items are very rarely accepted outside the micronation itself.

Some micronations are established as political, social or economic simulations. Creators of this form of micronation are usually interested in recreating the past or imitating a social or political process. An example is Nova Roma, which has minted its own coins and engages enactments based on Roman themes. Many micronations are established just for personal entertainment, such as the Aerican Empire which is known for its smiley-faced flag and interplanetary land claims.

A micronation might also be set up to promote an agenda. The Conch Republic is an example of this. When the United States Border Patrol put up a roadblock in Key West, Florida, a group of business owners and residents established the Conch Republic as a protest.

New country projects are micronations that are established in an effort to found new nation states. Often, these micronations involve plans to build artificial islands and establish competitive governments on them. A micronation might also be founded for fraudulent purposes, such as selling passports, identification or other diplomatic papers.

Micronations date from about the early 19th century. During that period, several were founded by business speculators or simply eccentric adventurers. The Internet has aided in the creation of many new micronations whose citizens can live anywhere in the world and interact electronically.

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