Tired of paying taxes? Sick of governments interfering with your life? Angry that Kate Middleton has ruined your only chance to be queen? Why not start your own country!
With today’s technological advances, creating your own nation has never been easier. From anywhere in the world, you can have access to high-speed communication and essential telehealth services, not to mention the latest currency-printing and land-moving machinery. Food and fresh water might be hard to come by, but whatever. You’re the ruler of your own country and you can always apply for foreign aid.
DON'T: Settle on a Concrete-Hulled Ship Anchored in Hurricane-Prone Waters
In the late 1960s, Werner Stiefel had the wonderful idea to build a libertarian country on international waters. He and his buddies hopped on a ferro-cement boat, launched at high tide in the Hudson River, got stuck in the mud at low tide, almost capsized when the boat iced over, lost a propeller shaft near South Carolina and FINALLY anchored in the Bahamas. Then it sank in a hurricane. The end. Operation Atlantis was no more.
DO: Sue the Government, Fail, Then Resort to Centuries-Old Laws
Principality of Hutt River
Long story short, Leonard George Casley, a farmer from Western Australia, was very unhappy with the government’s low wheat production quotas. He lodged a protest, failed, then eventually discovered a dusty old British law (the Treason Act of 1495, in case you want to Google it) that allowed them to declare their independence from the Commonwealth of Australia. Now, Hutt River Province is ruled by Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley and has 30 full-time residents and 13,000 to 18,000 overseas citizens. They don’t pay Australian taxes, they keep to themselves and they make most of their money from tourism, including the sale of stamps and coins.
DON'T: Build Your Own Island In Someone Else's Waters
Republic of Minerva
In the 1970s, Nevada businessman Michael Oliver decided to create a sovereign nation on an artificial island in the Minerva Reefs, near Tonga. They shipped a bunch of sand over from Australia, brought the reef level above the water and planted a tower and a flag. Not surprisingly, nearby countries were not amused. Tonga claimed the Minerva Reefs belonged to them, and sent an expedition over to claim their territory. The flag was hauled down and the island has since been reclaimed by the sea.
DO: Claim Abandoned Territory in International Waters
Principality of Sealand
During World War II, the United Kingdom had a bunch of sea forts stationed along the east coast of England. One of these forts, Roughs Tower, was located 7 miles from the coast in international waters. After the war, the forts were abandoned and Roughs Tower became an extra-national territory. Then in the late 1960s, Paddy Roy Bates moved there with his family and declared it his own state. The Navy, not too pleased, paid Bates a visit. Bates, also not pleased, fired warning shots. Bates was brought to British court for extensive crimes, but because Sealand was not in British waters, and because no other country had claimed it, it was in fact a new sovereign state. Over the years, Sealand has had its fair share of drama, including kidnappings, war and fake passports, but it is now the home of a rapidly-growing, high-tech internet industry.
DON'T: Build a Nation When You're Wanted for Crimes in Other Nations
United Kingdom of Atlantis
Here’s a math equation for you: New countries = publicity. Shocking, I know. So if the US feds are after you for crimes such as fraud and money laundering, don’t create a fake website for a fake country with a fake location and a fake history. And don’t offer your neighbouring country, Palau, a low-interest loan of $100 million. That’s what Sheikh Yakub Al-Sheikh Ibrahim did and he got busted. Fool.