arrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upchevron-upchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upclosecomment-newemail-newgallerygridheadphones-newheart-filledheart-openmap-geolocatormap-pushpinArtboard 1Artboard 1Artboard 1minusng-borderpauseplayplusreplayscreenArtboard 1sharefacebookgithubArtboard 1Artboard 1linkedinlinkedin_inpinterestpinterest_psnapchatsnapchat_2tumblrtwittervimeovinewhatsappspeakerstar-filledstar-openzoom-in-newzoom-out-new

The Eccentric World of DIY Kingdoms

All it takes to form a micronation is a little domain and a lot of nerve. Meet the emperors and dictators who have struck out on their own.

This story ran in the April 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

A king without a kingdom is not without options. For centuries, wannabe rulers intent on independence, political subversion, religious freedom, or just a laugh have laid dubious claim to territories. Some call these domains “micronations.”

Where have self-appointed rulers planted flags? On islands: Off Denmark’s coast is the Kingdom of Elleore, which bans Robinson Crusoe as slander against island life. In deserts: Nevada’s Republic of Molossia sells bonds to fund its war—with East Germany. And in the ocean: The ruler of the Principality of Sealand, a WWII-era British Navy sea fort, says he once foiled a hostage-taking coup.

By international law, those aspiring to nationhood must have a government, a permanent population, defined territory, and a capacity for foreign relations; some tiny nations also have flags, constitutions, and currencies. What most don’t have is recognition. They exist, as their founders do, on the fringes.

Comment on This Story



Events

Hear live stories from explorers and photographers around the country.

See Locations Near You

Exhibits

Enjoy a variety of exhibitions that reflect the richness and diversity of our world.

Buy Tickets

Follow Us