Monday, May 01, 2006

Micronations: "loose threads on the patchwork of nations"

Cabinet Magazine has a great year-old article by George Pendle about micronations, tiny countries that exist for brief periods for reasons of fraud, ambition, or what I imagine might be called "micronationalism":
For example, take the Republic of Indian Stream, a self-declared republic in North America that existed from 1832 to 1835. An ambiguous border treaty between Britain and the U.S. had created a 500-square mile legal loophole between Canada and the state of New Hampshire. Three hundred enterprising American citizens, all hoping to avoid federal taxes, quickly established a government and constitution and declared Indian Stream a sovereign state. The Republic went unchallenged, but when one of its members was arrested for unpaid debts and taken to serve time in a debtors’ prison in Canada, the Republic of Indian Stream swiftly planned a counterstrike. Crossing the border into Canada, they shot up a local judge’s house, broke their fellow “Streamer” out of prison, and returned triumphantly home.
In Georgia, the region of South Ossetia has ambitions to become a micronation of sorths, or at least one of the world's smallest nations. With a population of 70,000, it would place far behind Monaco, Andorra, Lichtenstein or San Marino, though it would beat Vatican City by a large margin, not to mention Britain's neighbor Sealand, population one (the king).