Three Fantasy Nations Created as Jokes
With tongue in cheek, many people have declared little patches of land to be sovereign nation states. Presented here is a tiny sampling of these fanciful national creations, designed to amuse and entertain us.
America’s Republic of Molossia
Meet Kevin Baugh, retired United States Army sergeant and also His Excellency President of the Republic of Molossia. The sovereign nation covers 6.3 acres (2.5 hectares) in the Twenty-Six Mile Desert near Dayton, Nevada.
Originally, the state was founded in 1977 as the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, but changed its name to Molossia in 1998. Tourists can visit the Government House, Republic Square, the Dead Dog Battlefield, and the Tower of Winds. Molossia even has its own railroad, albeit a miniature one.
Of course, the country has all the trappings necessary to proclaim its independent status―flag, currency (the valora, although the preferred means of exchange is tubes of Pillsbury dough), postal service, national anthem, and a customs office at which it’s politely suggested to visitors that they pay a fee, being whatever pocket change they have about them.
Molossia has some strict rules that must be observed as outlined on a sign and reported as banned by Carmen Machado (Vice News): “Firearms, ammunition, explosives, catfish, spinach, missionaries and salesmen, onions, walruses, and anything from Texas with the exception of Kelly Clarkson.”
Visitors are allowed to keep a rhinoceros as a pet provided they get the right permit; elephants are also allowed, but they must be kept on a leash in the Red Square. However, hunting moths under street lighting is strictly banned. Strangely though, letting off a nuclear weapon attracts only a fine.
There has been a considerable amount of turbulence in Molossia’s past. During 2006, there was conflict with Mustachia, and there is an ongoing war with East Germany.
This latter brouhaha dates back to November 1983; the former-Soviet satellite was accused of “disrupting the sleep” of Sergeant Baugh when he was stationed in West Germany.
Of course, East Germany ceased to exist in 1990 but some complex diplomatic entanglements have made a permanent peace difficult to secure.
In 1972, Fidel Castro, Cuba’s Communist leader, gave a small island off the country’s coast to East Germany. Renamed Ernst Thälmann Island, this little speck of uninhabited land technically is still East German territory. But, there’s nobody living on the island so there is no one with whom to negotiate an end to hostilities.
Just in case, Molossia is still selling war bonds with a value of 10 valora ($3), although some killjoys maintain that Castro only agreed to a name change for the island not a transfer of possession.
Canada’s Outer Baldonia
Pepsi-Cola Company executive Russell Arundel, a bit of an eccentric, bought an island off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1948 and declared it a sovereign nation.
Outer Bald Tusket Island is a four-acre speck of land off the southern tip of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is quite flat and treeless and its only inhabitants are seabirds, seals, and sheep.
Russell Arundel paid $750 (a bit over $7,000 in today’s money) for this less than prime real estate. He put up a stone building to be used as a fishing lodge and declared the island to be the Principality of Outer Baldonia.
There was a “royal palace,” but we must get images of Versailles and Windsor Castle out of our minds. The ruins of this structure show it to have been built from beach pebbles and to have the footprint of a modest garage.
The monarch himself only spent one night in his regal residence, which he confessed to be “Windy, cold, and miserable.”
Every nation needs to have a virtuous constitution, and Outer Baldonia came up with a heavily guy-oriented document:
The Principality of Outer Baldonia declared “That fishermen are a race alone. That fishermen are endowed with the following inalienable rights: The right to lie and be believed. The right of freedom from question, nagging, shaving, interruption, women, taxes, politics, war, monologues, care, and inhibitions. The right to applause, vanity, flattery, praise, and self-inflation. The right to swear, lie, drink, gamble, and silence. The right to be noisy, boisterous, quiet, pensive, expensive, and hilarious. The right to choose company and the right to be alone. The right to sleep all day and stay up all night.”
War With Outer Baldonia
However, the humourless Soviet Union didn’t catch on that it was a joke. In 1952, the state-controlled Literaturnaya Gazeta published a withering attack on the little “nation” as an imperialist outpost operating under the influence of Wall Street. It referred to Prince Arundel as a war-mad “fuehrer,” and sneered at the constitution as a document designed to turn “his subjects into savages.”
“Them’s fightin’ words,” thought the Baldonians and, as with Molossia, hostilities broke out with the Eastern bloc.
On March 9, 1953, Outer Baldonia declared war on the Soviet Union. Canada and the United States offered to defend the island, and the Armdale Yacht Club of Halifax pledged all its members’ vessels to the plucky micronation.
A formidable navy of kayaks, pleasure yachts, and fishing boats was placed under the command of Outer Baldonia’s 69 admirals.
Moscow quickly realized it was out of its depth and decided against a military engagement. The Soviets had to settle for satisfying their martial honour by issuing a series of vitriolic press releases denouncing Outer Baldonia as a capitalist lick-spittle.
In 1973, Prince Arundel sold Outer Baldonia to the Nova Scotia Bird Society for one dollar. The island has reverted to its original name of Outer Bald Tusket Island and is operated as a bird sanctuary.
The brainchild of Terry Austen (born 1961) and his actual child Jonathan Austen (born 1994), Austenasia is a nation in the United Kingdom that was founded in 2008.
Its capital is 312 Green Wrythe Lane, in the town of Carshalton, South London. A line of bricks marks the border between the sidewalk and the driveway of the row house. But, the dividing line is purely notional because it is not manned and visitors don’t require passports or visas. You can get there on the 151 bus.
The country styles itself as an empire under the benign governance of Emperor Jonathan I, and, though small in land mass it has grand ambitions. The Empire of Austenasia claims sovereignty over a holiday home in the Hebrides, as well as the nations of Algeria, India, the United States, and a portion of a university campus in Australia. A farm surrounded by Brazil became a dependency in 2013.
Unlike other micronations, Austenasia has not, yet, declared war on anybody, but there have been internal divisions. A short civil war in 2010 led to the abdication of Emperor Esmond III, the country’s second ruler.
Emperor Jonathan I hopes for a steady expansion of his domain.
- The Conch Republic seceded from Key West, Florida in 1982. It has since expanded to include large portions of southern Florida. One of its guiding principles is “to bring more humor, warmth, and respect to a world sorely in need of all three.”
- In 2005, the British Broadcasting Corporation ran a six-part documentary series under the title, How to Start Your Own Country. The show featured comedian Danny Wallace creating the Kingdom of London in his flat in the East End of the British capital. King Danny had the support of more than 58,000 people who signed up to be citizens.
- Poyais was a magical land that produced three harvests a year and had large chunks of gold lying around waiting to be picked. It was the early-nineteenth-century creation of con man Gregor MacGregor in what is now Honduras.
- Norton I, Emperor of the United States is much admired in Molossia. He was an eccentric and beloved resident of San Francisco in the nineteenth century. A park in Molossia is named after him. More information is here.
- “New Foundlands.” George Pendle, Cabinet Magazine, Summer 2005.
- “Outer Baldonia: A Brief History.” Vernon Doucette, Birding Sites of Nova Scotia, undated.
- “The Imaginary Republic of Molossia.” Carmen Machado, Vice News, April 13, 2013.
- “There’s a Country Inside the US. Allegedly.” Raj Aditya Chaudhuri, Condé Nast Traveller, October 26, 2016.
- “Backpacking in Austenasia: Top 8 Sights in Wrythe, the Capital.” Johnny Blair, Dontstopliving.net, March 30, 2015.
- “Emperor Jonathan I Crowned Leader of Micronation Austenasia.” Mike Murphy-Pyle, Sutton & Croydon Guardian, February 26, 2013.
© 2020 Rupert Taylor