What is a micronation? Maybe some people think of small countries like San Marino or Andorra. No, those are too big. A micronation can be as small as 186 square meters, as the Barony of Caux, surrounded by the city of Toronto, Canada. Or even smaller. One of them is even mobile.
There are several dozens of micronations. In the tourist guide “Micronations. The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations” many of them are dealt with, including just as many shortlived ones. The cover contains a warning: REAL PEOPLE. REAL PLACES. 100% TRUE. The copy in my possession is from 2006. It has not been updated or reprinted since. Below you can find links to uptodate information about most of them. The book contains brief descriptions of several such self-declared states and their kings, presidents and, in a worrisome number of cases, dictators.
Lingoblog went through the book to investigate what language policy they have. It is again subject for discussion, after the film on Rose Island came out in 2020, about the establishment of a micronation of 220 square meters artificial island whose government declared Esperanto as their national language. That was in 1968.
The recognized micronations in Europe are usually remnants of medieval city-states that, for some reason, did not want to join larger states, and that were never forced to do so, by conquest, security threats or diplomatic pressure. One can think of the papacy of Vatican City, the Republic of San Marino, and the Principalities of Liechtenstein, Monaco and Andorra.
The new micronations on the other hand were all established out of idealism (e.g. an LGBT nation), financial (e.g. tax evasion), because of a social or political protest and even in some cases, I think a form of humor or youthful hybris.
Two of such microstates can be found within the borders of Denmark. One is the Freetown of Christiania, covering six pages in the book. It has been in existence since 1971, covering 320,000 square meters. According to the book they have their own currency, a løn, but in my experience other currencies, notably the Danish crown (1 Løn equals 50 Danish crowns) are widely accepted. The author of this article has admittedly too little experience with purchasing drugs of any kind in the Freestate. No information is given on the language policy of the Free State. Many languages can be heard within its borders. Their coins have text only in Danish. Their official freestate paper, Ugespejlet, is in Danish.
The other micronation within Denmark is the Kingdom of Elleore, much less known than Christiania. It is the oldest micronation, founded in 1944 by a group of schoolteachers. The island was, according to legend, first inhabited by Irish monks in the 10th century. After a detour via the Isle of Man and Amitsoq off the coast of Greenland, they found their ideal spot, declaring Hic est Elie Ore, meaning “this is the Golden Island!”, and founded their Kingdom. This legendary state lasted until the 1800s, when their dwellings were, according to legend, destroyed by jealous and aggressive Danes from nearby Zealand. Survivors blended with Danes, and the proud citizens of the current resurrected Kingdom all live in exile, but they gather on the island every year to celebrate Elleorian week. Birds are the only permanent inhabitants. Their calendar forces the Elleorians to have a 51-week “holiday abroad” each year, as the island is part of a bird wildlife reserve. Some of the traditions of the Islanders are revealed in the Micronations book. We can assume that Irish and Latin were the languages of the microstate in the first 800 years of its existence. No information is given about the current official language, but we can surmise that the de facto official language is Danish.
The Kingdom of Elleore near Roskilde and its rulers, Leo III and Carina.
Close to the Danish Kingdom, we find Ladonia, near Kullaberg in Sweden, north of Högenäs. Its population consists entirely of nomads. Apart from abundant nature, there are two founding sculptures, Arx and Nimis. The official language is phrased Latin, but English, French, German, Swedish, Danish and Finnish are also accepted.
What about the other micronations? Sealand was a squatted island from which radiobroadcasts were aired, laying outside territorial waters. It was the subject of several armed conflicts, coup attempts and diplomatic conflicts. No information on the language is given. Hutt River principality in Australia seems to support Gematrya Science (Gematria?), generating 26,000 (English) words. The Republic of Whangamomona, bordering New Zealand, has English as its sole official language, whereas its neighbor also has Maori. The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, east of Queensland near Australia, likewise has only English. No rainbow linguistic policy there. Citizens and visitors can be transported there with the pioneer boat the Gayflower. A flamboyant visitor apparently lamented the absence of “trendy nightspots or fashionable boutiques”. There are seven permanent residents and 132 citizens. More plurilingual is Akhzivland, near Israel, founded in 1952. A deserted village, with one remaining building, was taken in possession by an ex-sailor Eli Avivi. It is probably the only state with more official languages than inhabitants. The number of languages is six – Arabic, English, Farsi, French, German and Hebrew – and the number of inhabitants is two.
King Danny I reigns over the microstate Lovely, in the London suburb of Bow. On the map, one can observe the presence of a sofa, two tables (one round and one square), a lamp, a TV, a desk and a bin. It was the subject of a six-episode TV-series “How to start your own country”. The official language of this bedless nation is English. Unless the King sleeps on the sofa. Other facilities are apparently located outside the Kingdom.
One of the bigger microstates is found in the northeastern part of the USA, a staggering 110,000 square metres, bordering the USA in the south and Canada in the North. The official language of Northern Forest Archipelago is English, but all forms of communication are respected. Basically a wilderness, with Backwoods as its capital. No language information is available about Freedonia near Houston, Texas (not to be confused with the bankrupt nation of the same name in the film Duck Soup of the Marx Brothers made in 1933). The Republic of Molossia, a landlocked nation near Mary Lane Road in Virginia, California, has English as its official language and Kevin Baugh as its president. Broomball is the national sport. However, since the book came out, Esperanto has been declared a second language, and the government’s website offers a free course in Esperanto. http://www.molossia.org/esperanto.html
The Copeman Empire, ruled by King Nicholas and his dog, is special in that its borders change whenever the Kingdom travels throughout its bordering nation, the United Kingdom. Comfortably seated in his caravan and empire, the King has declared English as its national language. The Kingdom of North Dumpling Island is owned (bought) by the inventor of the Segway, and has English as its official language. It is located east of New York State in the Atlantic Ocean. The Principality of Vikesland is located within the Canadian Province of Manitoba, and it has English as its sole national language. The Königreich Romkerhall is found between Altenau and Goslar in Germany. The Baron and Baroness run the hotel of the same name, where German and English are the commonest languages.
The Republic of Kugelmugel is a circular house, and not open for visitors. No official language. The Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Islands, population of five, has none either. It consists of three islands near Portsmouth, UK. National holidays include Lagoan Laughing Day (February 3) and National Hugging Day (July 27). More recently, Lagoan was mentioned as a “regional language”. At a mere 20 minutes from there, the sovereign Kingdom of Kemetia is found. King Adam was born in 1989, and thus one of the youngest national leaders in the world. English is the official language of its 112 citizens, and minorities speak Hebrew, Sinhalese, Welsh and French. At least four religions are professed by its citizens. The principality of Trumania near Seattle, Washington, USA, has chosen English as its national language. This constitutional monarchy has an annual defense budget of 300 dollars, infinitely little compared with its neighbor the USA, whose government spent 250 billion times that amount in 2020 on its military. No actual information can be found on this micronation. An invasion from its powerful neighbor is likely, the news of the invasion having been suppressed routinely by the mainstream news media. The same official language for the Barony of Caux. Despite its French spelling, the micronation located within Toronto, has English as its official language for its population of 100.
The State of Sabotage (SOS) and NSK, the “First Global State of the Universe”, both have no territory, even though SOS purchased some land in Australia. Both states started from the world of art. SOS has “global language” as its official policy, whatever that means, and it “knows neither officials nor functionaries – it only knows self-determined artists”, thus the non-president Robert Jelinek.
A more interesting language policy is encountered in the Empire of Atlantium, strangely enough located far from the Atlantic and Atlantis in a 61 square meter apartment surrounded by Sydney, Australia. Georgius II is the primus inter pares of the micronation, that has Latin and English as its official languages. Similarly multilingual is the nation of Westarctica, claiming part of Antarctica. The languages are 85% English, 10% Spanish and 5% Norwegian.
Also more spectular is the language situation in the Aerican Empire, with Emperor Eric Lis, and a rather vague location. The Aerican Empire has two official languages, English and Aerican described as “a living, growing language, made up of words in conjunction with English”. Here are some of its words: Bosh: Nonsense. Brunt: Forward, front. Etlenn: An exile, or to exile. Etlenna: Exiled. The Conch Republic was founded by South Floridian business owners who were unhappy with US Federal Government treatment.
The République du Saugeais, located near Switzerland and its French border, has more citizens than the Holy See, but with 4,500 it is surpassed by Andorra (67,000). It has the noble French language as its official language.
Well, from a viewpoint of English linguistic imperialism, the language choice is rather disturbing. Perhaps it is due to incomplete data, or the result of a bias as the authors are all English speakers. Almost all micronations have this dangerous language as its sole official language. There are a few micronations with another language beside English, and some also opted for German, French or Esperanto as their only language. It is striking that a few have chosen Latin as its official language, despite it being declared dead. A few micronations have a plurilingual policy, with the world record held by Akhzivland, with three times as many official languages than inhabitants.
For more up-to-date information on most of the micronations:
Elleore (på dansk):
The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands:
Barony of Caux:
The Republic of Whangamomona:
Northern Forest Archipelago:
Hutt River Principality:
The Copeman Empire:
Saugeais (en français)
State of Sabotage:
NSK State: The First Global State of the Universe
Peter Bakker is from planet Earth and a linguist, separatist, idealist and a former filatelist. He gets his income from Aarhus University.