It’s a beautiful day in the Duchy of Westarctica. The temperatures, as during any summer, are below 57 degrees Fahrenheit and the landscape looks as deserted as always in the western Antarctic. But this little fragment of land (or rather ice) as yet unclaimed by any nation is the future project of the Grand Duke Travis McHenry of Westarctica and 300 volunteers.

An informal movement has been gathering momentum for the last few years among enthusiasts and eccentrics of global geopolitics concerning the appropriation of tiny pieces of territory in the middle of a desert or forest and declaring it an autonomous nation.

Some recent cases are Liberland, which is 3 square miles in size, and the Principality of Pontinha, a tiny island in Portugal, but the number of active micro-nations is estimated to be 98 and they hold annual conventions such as PoliNation and Micronation.

The conventions are like a cross between a medieval festival and a meeting of UN leaders. But to be the leader of your own micro-nation is not just about designing a beautiful flag in Photoshop or putting up a pretty slogan in an invented language (although you can start here): Many “heads of state” seek official diplomatic recognition of their respective nations, often with the sole aim of entertainment, or of creating awareness of certain causes (the Duchy of Westarctica is an NGO dedicated to ecological and conservation activities), and, why not, to let your imagination run loose.

The State Department of the (more and more) United States of America has an active registry of such nations in the “Ephemeral Nations File,” which would make a wonderful title for a novel.

The desire to start from scratch, as eccentric as it may seem, has always been a common trait in explorers and adventurers, and the need to return to a place that is our own (even though at the moment it belongs to somebody else) is the driving force behind all independence projects, from the most modest, such as resigning from your job or dedicating yourself to what you really love, to the most risky, such as founding civilization over again under the premises of tolerance and mutual support.

It’s a beautiful day in the Duchy of Westarctica. The temperatures, as during any summer, are below 57 degrees Fahrenheit and the landscape looks as deserted as always in the western Antarctic. But this little fragment of land (or rather ice) as yet unclaimed by any nation is the future project of the Grand Duke Travis McHenry of Westarctica and 300 volunteers.

An informal movement has been gathering momentum for the last few years among enthusiasts and eccentrics of global geopolitics concerning the appropriation of tiny pieces of territory in the middle of a desert or forest and declaring it an autonomous nation.

Some recent cases are Liberland, which is 3 square miles in size, and the Principality of Pontinha, a tiny island in Portugal, but the number of active micro-nations is estimated to be 98 and they hold annual conventions such as PoliNation and Micronation.

The conventions are like a cross between a medieval festival and a meeting of UN leaders. But to be the leader of your own micro-nation is not just about designing a beautiful flag in Photoshop or putting up a pretty slogan in an invented language (although you can start here): Many “heads of state” seek official diplomatic recognition of their respective nations, often with the sole aim of entertainment, or of creating awareness of certain causes (the Duchy of Westarctica is an NGO dedicated to ecological and conservation activities), and, why not, to let your imagination run loose.

The State Department of the (more and more) United States of America has an active registry of such nations in the “Ephemeral Nations File,” which would make a wonderful title for a novel.

The desire to start from scratch, as eccentric as it may seem, has always been a common trait in explorers and adventurers, and the need to return to a place that is our own (even though at the moment it belongs to somebody else) is the driving force behind all independence projects, from the most modest, such as resigning from your job or dedicating yourself to what you really love, to the most risky, such as founding civilization over again under the premises of tolerance and mutual support.

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