Micronations Summit In California: Biggest Names From Tiniest Nations

A summit of the micronational leaders convened in Anaheim, California, on Saturday to discuss intermicronational trade and economics, alternative technologies in the micronational arena, and “but what’s the point?” of micronations, among other things.

Although many of the items on the agenda seem complex, the question on most people’s minds is simple: what is a micronation?

A micronation is a territory that claims to be an independent country, despite having no international recognition. They are sometimes called “model countries” or “new country projects.”

The Anaheim summit, which took place in the central library down the street from Disneyland, included leaders from some of the most notable micronations on Earth, including the Kingdom of Ruritania, the Grand Duchy of Westarctica, and Provisional Territories of the F.A.R.T.

Many of the micronations in attendance print their own currencies, stamps, and other national-identifying items. Some are located within other recognized countries, like in Nevada, while others have far-off territories, like in Antarctica.

Micronation expert Steven F. Scharff explained to the AP that, “It’s almost like a diplomatic version of a model railroad for nerds.”

The conference in Anaheim was hosted by the Kevin Baugh, president of the Republic of Molossia (pictured above). His micronation consists of 1.3 acres in the Nevada desert.

Nevertheless, some micronations do get international attention, and even engage in armed conflict.

The Grand Duchy of Westarctica, for example, has become a nonprofit that advocates for climate change research and the protection of penguins. The 620,000 square mile nation, which exists in an area of Antarctica not claimed by any other country, has 300 citizens, but none live in the frozen territory.

Still, Grand Duke Travis McHenry hopes to encourage other micronations to become nonprofits, like his own Grand Duchy.

“It’s just sort of encouraging other micronations to become nonprofits so they’re actually doing something rather than just walking around wearing fancy capes.”

One micronation not represented at the summit was Sealand, one of the few tiny states to gain independence through force.

Sealand exists on a fortress island built by the British during the second world war. The installation was abandoned after the war and reclaimed by Roy Bates in 1966 to avoid a legal dispute over his pirate radio station.

When workmen arrived nearby, Bates fired warning shots at them, which landed him in a British court. The court decided Sealand was outside of the U.K.’s jurisdiction, thus giving it a kind of de facto independence.

During the Anaheim micronation summit, the discussions were kept on peaceful subjects. NPR reports that each attendee was allowed 10 to 15 minutes to discuss the topic of their choice.

[Image Credit: Ryan Lackey/Kevin Baugh/Wikimedia Commons]