Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from a special guest blogger, our good friend Alex Begley.
Starting your own country sounds great, doesn’t it? Declare yourself monarch, holy emperor, or maybe just president. Come up with a cool name for your new territory and decide what kind of state it is. It could be a micronation! A principality! A city state! A kingdom!
Then you get to design your flag (the best ones have stars), decide on a style of government (constitutional demagogy with a polytheistic parliamentary democracy), read up on history and appoint leaders, assign crazy exchange rates for the currency with your face on it (make sure it’s the good side), assemble an army, design outfits for the army, and so on.
The first thing you need to have figured out when you settle your own micronation is the “where.” Property or land of some kind is key. If you have no sovereign territory to call your own, the chances of anyone taking you seriously dip severely.
Take the Aerican Empire, for example. Their flag has a smiley face on it and their territory map is just a picture of the world. Waxing philosophical about “location” and “place” is nice for a group or a classroom discussion, but no country is founded on ideas alone, they are founded on dirt (or, in some cases, water).
Choose your site wisely and always keep tourism and defense in mind. The tourist trade can lead to big bucks and economic prosperity for your mini-country, but make sure your nation is secure, also. After all, whatever territory you claim as your own will likely face plenty of enemies, like the nation of Shirat HaYam, whose leader had to defend his country from the entire Israeli Defense Force with only one M-16.
Contrary to the popular saying, size doesn’t matter when it comes to nation states. Frestonia consisted of 1.8 acres and still boasted notable citizens like actor David Rappaport and playwright Heathcote Williams.
Once you have your territory squared away you will face the most challenging aspect of raising your small country: the constitution. What does your country stand for? What can your people not live without? What is going to make your country different than just any other patch of land? The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Seas didn’t cut any corners here. They founded their tiny nation with the promise of citizenship to all gay and lesbian people as a haven of equality in life and law.
Other micronations have less good-natured intentions. More than one person has created a “micronation” in the name of greed and get-rich-quick schemes. Though your country may not be officially recognized by any other nation, the crimes committed within its “borders”, virtual or otherwise, are still punishable by someone’s laws. Scotsman Gregor MacGregor’s elaborate Principality of Poyais scheme ended in the loss of life for nearly 200 eager settlers (who had emptied their wallets in pursuit of a better life in the New World nation) and landed him in French and English prisons for fraudulent dealings. A much more recent example of this is Pearlasia Gamboa who has used fake countries to swindle billions of dollars out of investors and attracted the severe attention of the SEC and the United States government.
Once all the serious business is taken care of, you get to do all the fun stuff like selecting a national anthem (the Northern Forest Archipelago chose Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me”) and establishing a time zone (the Kingdom of Elleore uses Elleore Standard Time which is 12 minutes behind Danish time). Your flag and your coinage will be the most recognizable aspects of your country so don’t overlook the details. The Principality of Sealand pegged its currency to the dollar in the early seventies and you can purchase coins, stamps, titles of nobility, and t-shirts on their official website.
With the basics of starting your own country under your belt, feel free to day dream away. Just make sure to check back next week for Pluck’s Guide to Micronations.