All countries are virtual countries, according to Vt Jedlika, the president of Liberland (an uninhabited island in the Danube river between Serbia and Croatia) and his fellow leaders of the worlds micronations.
But that number is now one fewer, after Australias oldest micronation, founded in 1970 over a dispute over wheat, is no more.
The Principality of Hutt River, a popular tourist attraction founded by the self-styled Prince Leonard Casley, and never legally recognised by Australia or any other country, announced on Monday that it was rejoining the Commonwealth of Australia as a result of harsh times during the coronavirus pandemic.
At 75 sq km (18,500 acres) in area, the former self-styled principality in rural Western Australia, 517km north of Perth, is the size of Hong Kong and has a population of 26.
Hutt River seceded from Australia in April 1970 after a dispute with the state government over wheat production quotas, and later became a tourist attraction that printed its own currency, the Hutt River dollar, and stamped the passports of visitors.
But on Monday, the supporters and followers of the tiny nation received an email from Royal Hutt River Legion Major Richard Ananda Barton announcing that its current leader, Prince Graeme Casley, had decided to dissolve the Principality.
It is with much sorrow that I inform you that this will be the last Significant Days list I circulate, he wrote.
Casley confirmed the news to Guardian Australia but noted that the initial email was unauthorised.
PHR will not be continuing in such harsh times (as many others are also facing), he said.
Jedlika, a Eurosceptic politician who founded Liberland in 2015, once said its nothing but the imagination of people that creates countries. Hutt River required more imagination than most.
For 50 years, the principality existed in the strange netherworld of the unrecognised state, one of dozens around the world, never really leaving Australia but claiming to be distinct from it.
In 1977, Hutt River briefly declared war on Australia over what Casley described as then prime minister Malcolm Frasers hostilities.
It had landmarks such as Mount Secession and Lake Beginning, a memorabilia department and historical society. Described on its own website as undulating farmland well covered in places with a wealth of shrubs and glorious wildflowers in season, it was a popular tourist destination in WA.
But the micronation was forced to shut its borders to tourists in January due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Founder Leonard Casley abdicated the throne to his son Graeme in 2017, and died last year, aged 93.
Graeme Casley confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the property would be sold to pay a mounting debt to the previously-foreign Australian Tax Office.
Hutt River is survived by other self-proclaimed micronations within Australia, including the Empire of Atlantium and the Principality of Snake Hill and the Murrawarri Republic.
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