From Lomwiki, the micronation encyclopaedia
A micronation is any entity which purports to be, or has the appearance of being a sovereign state, but isn’t.
Micronations are typically created and maintained by one person or family. Many exist solely on the internet, or in the imagination of their creators.
Some have a more corporeal existence, making ambit claims over, or occasionally even physically occupying defined geographical locations - albeit often tiny, remote or uninhabitable ones - and producing physical artefacts such as stamps, coins, banknotes, passports, medals and flags.
A few of the latter type have effectively managed become commercially successful tourism destinations.
Micronations have been created for a wide range of reasons, including: as a response to perceived legal or financial grievances, opposition to urban development proposals, anti-nuclear protests, self-contained fine art projects, theoretical social experiments, educational aids, personal enjoyment, tourist boosterism and fraud.
Many micronations consciously embrace seemingly absurd, contradictory, nonsensical or humorous elements in a subversive manner somewhat reminiscent of Dada. Consequently micronations as a general phennomenon are viewed as ephemeral, eccentric and somewhat amusing by most external commentators.
Micronations should not to be confused with microstates, which are small extant sovereign states such as the Andorra, Kiribati, Monaco, Nauru, San Marino and the Vatican.
Nor should they be confused with self-determination, secessionist or exile government groups, which typically have many hundreds or thousands of active supporters, and are often engaged in armed campaigns in support of their aims against the governments of one or more sovereign states. Micronations are distinguishable from literary fictions such as Middle Earth or Narnia in that they are not intended to merely serve as settings against which a narrative plays out – but rather to be the primary subject of an open-ended narrative.
The word micronation (or less commonly, micro-nation) is a conflation of micro, meaning ‘small’, and nation, meaning ‘a group of people sharing a distinct cultural identity or heritage'.
In colloquial English, “nation” and “state” are often wrongly used as synonyms, leading some media commentators to confusingly apply the term microstate in reportage about micronations; a state is a discrete political entity that exists within a constitutional and legal framework, whereas a nation is a prevailing set of cultural assumptions, preferences and values.
The earliest documented use of the word micronation to decribe ephemeral, self-declared polities appears in the People’s Almanac, by Irving Wallace & Daniel Wallechinsky, published in 1978, where it appears in an entry listing such exemplars as the Republic of Minerva and the Principality of Sealand.
While the word has yet to be listed in any English dictionary of note, steadily increasing interest in the subject of ephemeral polities by the international media, fine arts theorists, and cultural anthropologists since the mid 1990s has ensured its wider propagation as a universal catch-all for any seemingly quixotic, somewhat ephemeral self-declared polity – to the extent that derivations have been recorded in the following languages:
- Afrikaans - mikronasie
- Bhasa Indonesia - negara mikro
- Cantonese -
- Czech -
- Danish - mikronation
- Dutch - mikronatie
- Esperanto - mikronacio
- French - micronation
- German - Mikronation
- Irish - micreanáisiún
- Italian - micronazione
- Japanese - ミクロネーション
- Korean -
- Polish -
- Portuguese - micronação
- Romanian - micronațiune
- Russian - микронация
- Serbo-Croatian - микронација / mikronacija
- Spanish - micronación
- Swedish - mikronation
- Ukrainian - мiкронацiя
- Welsh - meicrogenedl
Historically, micronations have been a relatively uncommon phenomenon – albeit a persistently recurrent one. They have arisen predominantly within wealthy western-style liberal democracies possessing a strongly European heritage – where the dissent that they represent enjoys a greater degree of toleration, and where the wealth and excess of leisure time enjoyed by a significant percentage of the population serves to encourage the sort of intellectual speculation and political theorisation that may give rise to them.
According to George Cruickshank, micronations can be broadly categorized as being either fundamentally physical or fundamentally virtual in nature.
Physical micronations are defined by Cruickshank as those whose activities are conducted in real time, by people who are identifiable by their real names, in the corporeal world. Their activities may result in the creation of purpose-specific structures and physical artifacts. Physical micronations occupy a diverse spectrum of identifiable sub-types – from complex internally consistent tongue-in-cheek performance art vehicles such as the Republic of Molossia, through entities established as a focus for urban/environmental community protest, such as Wanstonia, to libertarian-inspired purpose-built artifical island projects such as the Republic of Rose Island.
Conversely, virtual micronations are those that do not project any aspect of their activities into the corporeal world – either because they lack the means to do so, or by design. The virtual micronation spectrum ranges from entities that are entirely fictional – from their planetary location on down - through to those that might be described as elaborate interactive real-time role-playing exercises, whose participants act out designated roles consistent with the micronation’s narrative and their normal human personas within online environments like Second Life – such as the Kingdom of Hanover.
Characteristics and peculiarities
Among micronational entities whose existence is confined largely to the virtual sphere, it is not uncommon for the ongoing narrative to take the form of an elaborate fictionalization of mundane situations and events occurring during the course of the daily existence of the micronation’s chief author. Thus, a schoolyard confrontation may be described as a “war”, lunching with the leader of another micronation at the local mall may be described as a “summit” and a nonedescript pre-existing garden shed may be ascribed the function of a “government ministry”…