A micronation, sometimes referred to as a model country or new country project, is an entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not generally recognized by world governments or major international organizations.
Micronations are distinguished from imaginary countries and from other kinds of social groups (such as eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, and sects) by expressing a formal and persistent, even if unrecognized, claim of sovereignty over some physical territory. Micronations are also distinct from true secessionist movements; micronations' activities are almost always peaceful enough to be ignored rather than challenged by the established nations whose territory they claim.
Several micronations have issued coins, flags, postage stamps, passports, and other items. These items are rarely accepted outside their own community, but may be sold as novelties to help raise money or collected by enthusiasts.
The earliest known micronations date from the beginning of the 19th century. The advent of the Internet provided the means for people to create many new micronations, whose members are scattered all over the world and interact mostly by electronic means, often calling their nations "nomadic countries". The differences between such Internet micronations, other kinds of social networking groups, and role-playing games are sometimes difficult to define.
The term "micronation" to describe those entities dates at least to the 1970s. The term micropatriology is sometimes used to describe the study of both micronations and microstates by micronationalists, some of whom refer to sovereign nation-states as "macronations."
The term 'micronation' literally means "small nation." It is a neologism originating in the mid-1970s to describe the many thousands of small unrecognised state-like entities that have mostly arisen since that time.
The term has since also come to be used retrospectively to refer to earlier unrecognized entities, some of which date to as far back as the 19th century. Amongst supporters of micronations ("micronationalists") the term "macronation" is in common use to refer to any internationally recognised sovereign nation-state.
Not all micronations are small; some can be rather large, like Westarctica, or those with claims on other planets.
Micronations generally have a number of common features, although these may vary widely. They may have a structure similar to established sovereign states, including territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens, albeit on a much smaller scale. Micronations are often quite small, in both their claimed territory and claimed populations although there are some exceptions to this rule, with different micronations having different methods of citizenship. Micronations may also issue formal instruments such as postage stamps, coins, banknotes and passports, and bestow honors and titles of nobility.
The Montevideo Convention on the Right and Duties of States was one attempt to create a legal definition distinguishing between states and non-states. Some micronations like Sealand or Hutt River reject the term "micronation" and consider themselves fully sovereign states (feigning ignorance of the political reality of their condition); other micronations like Flandrensis or Molossia have no desire to be recognized as sovereign to the same degree as UN member states.
A small number of micronations are founded based on historical anomalies or on legal anomalies (deriving from disputed interpretations of law). These types of micronations are usually located on small (usually disputed) territorial enclaves, generate limited economic activity founded on[tourism and philatelic and numismatic sales, and are tolerated or ignored by the nations from which they claim to have seceded. This category includes:
The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the foundation of a number of territorial micronations. The first of these, Sealand, was established in 1967 on an abandoned World War II gun platform in the North Sea just off the coast of England, and has survived into the present day. Others were founded on libertarian principles and involved schemes to construct artificial islands, but only a few are known to have had even limited success in realizing that goal.
Micronationalism shed much of its traditionally eccentric anti-establishment mantle and took on a distinctly hobbyist perspective in the mid-1990s, when the emerging popularity of the Internet made it possible to create and promote statelike entities in an entirely electronic medium with relative ease. An early example is the Kingdom of Talossa, a micronation created in 1979 by then-14-year-old Robert Ben Madison, which went online in November 1995, and was reported in the New York Times and other print media in 2000.
The activities of these types of micronations are almost exclusively limited to simulations of diplomatic activity (including the signing of treaties" and participation in inter-micronational organizations such as the League of Micronations) and contribution to wikis. With the introduction of the Internet, many articles on how to create micronations were made available on such wikis, which serve as a hub of online activity for micronations. The most notable wiki for the forum, MicroWiki, was created in 2005.
A number of traditional territorial micronations, including the Hutt River Province, Seborga, and Sealand, maintain websites that serve largely to promote their claims and sell merchandise. In 1999, the MicroFreedom Index, an academic listing of micronations created by Mr. Steven Scharff, went online and has served as a resource for the micronational community for nearly twenty years.
In international law, the Montevideo Convention on the Right and Duties of States sets down the criteria for statehood in article 1.
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
The first sentence of article 3 of the Montevideo Convention explicitly states that "The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states."
Under these guidelines, any entity which meets all of the criteria set forth in article 1 can be regarded as sovereign under international law, whether or not other states have recognized it.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as an independent subject of international law does not meet all the criteria for recognition as a State (however it does not claim itself a State either), but is and has been recognized as a sovereign nation for centuries.
The doctrine of territorial integrity does not effectively prohibit unilateral secession from established states in international law, per the relevant section from the text of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Final Act, Helsinki Accords or Helsinki Declaration:
IV. Territorial integrity of StatesThe participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.The participating States will likewise refrain from making each other's territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international law, or the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of them. No such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal.
In effect, this states that other states (i.e., third parties), may not encourage secession in a state. This does not make any statement as regards persons within a state electing to secede of their own accord.
There has been a small but growing amount of attention paid to the micronation phenomenon in recent years. Most interest in academic circles has been concerned with studying the apparently anomalous legal situations affecting such entities as Sealand and Hutt River, in exploring how some micronations represent grassroots political ideas, and in the creation of role-playing entities for instructional purposes.
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