15 People Who Started Their Own Micronations

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A micronation is a piece of land, either geographical or hypothetical, which claims to be a sovereign state—but isn’t. By the most bare-bones definition, this means all you have to do to create one is declare that you’ve done so. If you want to get fancy about it, you can also design your own passport, currency, regalia, and/or other accoutrements of statehood. Badgering the United Nations for recognition is optional, but by definition, micronations aren’t formally recognized by other countries or international bodies.

Some micronations are serious attempts driven by political ideology, while others are more like practical jokes. By some accounts, over 400 currently active micronations now exist. Here are 15 of the most interesting from the past few decades: 

1. VÍT JEDLIČKA // LIBERLAND

In April 2015, a Czech man named Vít Jedlička declared that an otherwise unclaimed 2.7-square-mile patch of land between Serbia and Croatia was now a libertarian paradise called the Free Republic of Liberland. According to the micronation’s website, “The motto of Liberland is ‘To live and let live’ because Liberland prides itself on personal and economic freedom of its people.”

Applications are currently being accepted for citizenship from those who 1) have respect for others and their opinions, 2) “ have respect for private ownership, which is untouchable,” 3) do not have a “Communist, Nazi, or other extremist past,” and 4) have not been punished for past criminal offenses. Jedlička told TIME that within a few days of his announcement he had received 20,000 citizenship applications, although he planned to accept just 3000 to 5000.

At the time of the announcement, the only structure in the area was a dilapidated hunters’ lodge, and police in both Croatia and Serbia have since blocked access to the area. Nevertheless, “President Jedlička” is currently making international visits to drum up support for his new nation."

2. PADDY ROY BATES // PRINCIPALITY OF SEALAND

One of the world’s more successful micronations was founded in 1967 on an abandoned former WWII anti-aircraft gun platform about seven miles off the coast of England. Former British Army major Paddy Roy Bates originally occupied the 120-by-50-foot platform in 1966 to transmit pirate radio broadcasts, and later declared it his own nation: The Principality of Sealand.

Today, Sealand continues its radio broadcasts and has also become an online data haven. Since 1999, it’s been ruled by Bates’ son, Prince Michael, and boasts its own chapel, prison, flag, currency, stamps, national anthem, and passports, as well as a strained relationship with Great Britain, which doesn’t recognize its existence but has mostly left it alone. It also sells royal titles—“The perfect gift for the person that has everything!”

3. LEICESTER HEMINGWAY // REPUBLIC OF NEW ATLANTIS

On July 4, 1964, Leicester Hemingway, younger brother of writer Ernest Hemingway, declared that half of an 8-by-30-foot bamboo raft in international waters off the coast of Jamaica was his own country: New Atlantis.

Hemingway claimed to derive his authority from the U.S. Guano Islands Act of 1856, which authorized U.S. citizens to take possession, on behalf of the U.S. government, of any unoccupied “island, rock or key” on which a deposit of guano was found. (Guano, or bird excrement, was then considered a valuable commercial fertilizer.) Hemingway declared that half his “island” now belonged to the U.S. government, while the other half was reserved for New Atlantis.

Hemingway hoped to run a marine research society funded by profits from selling New Atlantis stamps, but things didn’t turn out as he'd hoped. The Universal Postal Union refused to recognize his country or the stamps, and the raft was destroyed by storms a few years later, its remains pillaged by fishermen.

4. JEREMIAH HEATON // KINGDOM OF NORTH SUDAN

In 2014, Virginia farmer Jeremiah Heaton claimed a plot of land between Sudan and Egypt, Bir Tawil, as his own country so that he could declare his seven-year-old daughter a princess. His daughter declared herself delighted, but no governmental entity has recognized their claim. A somewhat controversial film is said to be in development about their story.

5. TOMÁŠ HARABIŠ // KINGDOM OF WALLACHIA

Writer and photographer Tomáš Harabiš established the Valašské království (Kingdom of Wallachia) in 1997 in a southeastern corner of the Czech Republic as a gimmick to promote tourism. Czech actor Bolek Polívka was declared "King Boleslav the Gracious," the ceremonial head of state. While successful as a tourist lure, the micronation suffered a bitter coup d'état in 2011 that saw Polívka stripped of his title after he demanded a financial stake in the fictional country's (real) finances.

6. LEONARD CASLEY // PRINCIPALITY OF HUTT RIVER

In 1970, farmer Leonard Casley was annoyed at the state government of Western Australia over restrictions on his wheat quota. His response? Declare his 29-square-mile farmland his own nation: The Principality of Hutt River, also known as the Hutt River Province. To this day, Casley rules his self-declared nation as Prince Leonard.

According to The Telegraph, they "once declared war on Australia. Receiving no response, [Prince Leonard] ordered a cessation of hostilities a few days later."

7. MICHAEL OLIVER // REPUBLIC OF MINERVA

In the early 1970s, Nevada real estate mogul Michael Oliver and a group of American libertarians tried to claim some coastal reefs about 250 miles off the coast of Tonga as the Republic of Minerva. The King of Tonga was not amused—he sent troops to invade the man-made islands the group had built around the reefs and formally annexed the land before destroying it.

8. PAUL DELPRAT // PRINCIPALITY OF WY

Australian artist and teacher Paul Delprat created “The Principality of Wy, The Artists’ Principality” as a concept in 1960. In 2004, frustrated after a 17-year battle with his local council over an application build a driveway, he made the concept reality, declaring that his property had seceded from the suburb of Sydney where he lived. The residents of the principality include the self-styled Prince Paul, his wife, Princess Susan, their children, and their pet rabbits. Delprat refers to the principality as his "ongoing creative installation." 

9. JAMES SPIELMAN AND KEVIN BAUGH // REPUBLIC OF MOLOSSIA

Founded in 1977 by two Portland, Oregon, teenagers as the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, the Republic of Molossia has had a long history. For a time it functioned as a "nomadic country" that traveled in Europe, but has since put down roots in Northern California and Nevada. The republic has also garnered respect from other micronations, and in 2000 hosted the Intermicronational Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the Republic of Molossia is at war with East Germany, which they say still exists “in the form of a small uninhabited island off Cuba." (The uninhabited island, Ernst Thälmann Island, was named after an East German politician as a symbolic act by the Cuban government in 1972.)

10. GIORGIO CARBONE // REPUBLIC OF SEBORGA

The Republic of Seborga was created around 1960 when Italian florist Giorgio Carbone began claiming that his tiny village near the French border had never been claimed as part of Italy. Locals got interested and formed their own semi-serious republic. Carbone has since passed away, and the micronation is now ruled by "His Tremendousness Giorgio II.”

11. GEORGETTE BERTIN-POURCHET // REPUBLIC OF SAUGEAIS

The Republic of Saugeais is comprised of 11 towns near the Swiss border and was founded in 1947 as a local joke. It has since become a tourist destination that helps promote local delicacies, and issues its own entrance passes and official stamps.

12. VARIOUS SCHOOLTEACHERS // KINGDOM OF ELLEORE

In the 1940s, a group of progressive Danish schoolteachers purchased the uninhabited island of Elleore and set about forming their own separatist state. Their attempt wasn’t quite successful (local bird sanctuary regulations interfered with their attempt to build a castle), but the island is still beloved by locals, who descend on it for one week each year to celebrate traditions such as the banning of canned sardines and to play their own invented sport, Cracket.

13. GIORGIO ROSA // REPUBLIC OF ROSE ISLAND

The Republic of Rose Island—known officially by its Esperanto title Insulo de la Rozoj—flourished briefly in 1968 after it was created on an artificial island in the Adriatic Sea by Italian architect Giorgio Rosa. For a while, the platform operated its own restaurant, nightclub, and souvenir shop. The Italian government saw it as a bid to draw tourist money without paying taxes, and destroyed it with explosives the following year.

14. TRAVIS MCHENRY // THE REALM OF CALSAHARA

The Realm of Calsahara (a portmanteau of "California" and "Sahara") can be found about three hours by car outside of Los Angeles. The micronation is ruled by one Travis McHenry, who declared the 9.5-square-mile tract of land a sovereign nation in 2009. Their currency is bulgur.

15. ERIC LIS // AERICAN EMPIRE

Founded by a 5-year-old Canadian boy in 1987, this state refers to itself as “the Monty Python of micronationalism.” According to The New York Times, the inhabitants of this primarily Internet-based micronation “worship a being known as the Great Penguin.”

12 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Easter Bunnies

This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Every year, thousands of families, church groups, and event planners enlist entertainment companies to dispatch a costumed bunny for their Easter celebrations. These performers often endure oppressive heat, frightened children, and other indignities to bring joy to the season.

It can be a thankless job, which is why Mental Floss approached several hares and their handlers for some insight into what makes for a successful appearance, the numerous occupational hazards, and why they can be harassed while holding a giant carrot. Here’s a glimpse of what goes on under the ears.

1. They might be watching netflix under the mask.

Has a bunny ever seemed slow to respond to your child? He or she might be in the middle of a binge-watch. Jennifer Ellison, the sales and marketing manager for San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals and a bunny wrangler during the Easter season, says that extended party engagements might lead their furry foot soldiers to seek distractions while in costume. “We book the bunny by the hour and he is often booked for multiple hour blocks,” she says. “Listening to music definitely helps the time pass.” One of her bunny friends who does a lot of shopping mall appearances has even rigged up a harness that can cradle a smart phone. “It sits above the bunny's nose, resting right at eye level for the performer inside, easily allowing the performer to stream Netflix, scroll through Facebook, or check emails.”

2. They can’t walk on wet grass.

Bunnies that appear at private functions, like backyard parties or egg hunts, have to maintain the illusion of being a character and not a human in a furry costume. According to Albert Joseph, the owner of Albert Joseph Entertainment in San Francisco and a 30-year veteran of Easter engagements, one of the cardinal rules is never to set foot on wet grass. Why? “They wear regular shoes under their giant bunny feet,” he says. “If they step on wet grass and then walk on cement, they’ll make a human foot print, not a bunny print.”

3. There’s a reason they might not pick up your kid.

Bunnies might be amenable to posing for a photo with your child on their lap, but they’re probably not going to grab the little tyke and sweep them off their feet. According to Steve Rothenberg, a veteran performer and owner of Talk of the Town Entertainment in Rockville, Maryland, deadlifting a kid is against the rules. “The last thing you want is to lift them up and have them knock off your head,” he says.

4. Giant carrots will invite inappropriate behavior.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
As the 3-foot-long carrot proves, adults are easily the least mature guests at a child's Easter party.
lisafx/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Joseph’s warren of party bunnies usually come equipped with a 3-foot-long giant carrot as a prop. While children are amused by the oversized vegetable, the adults at the parties usually can’t help making observations. “Practically every visit, there’s always someone saying, ‘My, what a big carrot you have,’” he says.

On one occasion, Joseph attended a function at a retirement home. One of the women, who he estimated to be in her 80s, commented on his big feet in a lascivious manner. “She told me she was in room 37.”

5. Clothes make the bunny.

Easter bunny at the White House.
Every year, a well-dressed Easter bunny visits Washington, D.C. for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While “naked” (i.e., unclothed) bunnies remain popular, Ellison’s lineup also includes Mr. Bunny, a “classy lad with a top hat and vest,” and a Mrs. Bunny sporting a purple dress. Why would kids care if a bunny has sartorial sense? “Kids can probably better relate to a giant, furry character if it's dressed like a human,” Ellison says. “[And] we just thought the costumes looked cute.”

6. They can’t wear dark clothing underneath.

If a bunny wants to wear a black shirt under his or her fur, it stands to reason there wouldn’t be any issue: It's all hidden from sight. But Joseph insists that his cast stick with white apparel only. In addition to being cooler, it serves a practical function. “There’s always an opportunity to see a little something around the neckline or near the feet,” he says. Light clothing helps preserve the character.

7. They use an upholstery cleaner for their heads.

Most bunny costumes can be tossed in any regular washing machine, with the feet going in a larger commercial-use unit. But the heads, which are typically massive and unwieldy, get special attention. “You know those upholstery cleaners you can rent from a grocery store?” Joseph asks. “We use those. There’s a wand attachment to it for cleaning carpet.”

8. There’s a trick to keeping cool.

Costumes made of fake fur in the spring can be a recipe for disaster—or at least some lightheadedness. While none of the bunnies we profiled had experienced fainting spells, Ellison says that the trick to staying cool is actually adding a layer underneath the outfit. “Light, breathable clothing underneath the suit usually does the trick, but some people choose to wear an ice vest under the suit as well.”

Many bunnies also work in intervals: 45 to 50 minutes “on,” and 10 to 15 minutes in a private area to cool off and drink water. “Clients are usually understanding and sympathetic of the bunny and will allow even more breaks if necessary,” Ellison says.

9. Mints are essential.

Bunnies may favor carrots and grass, but their human operators need something other than that in order to deal with the humidity. Rothenberg says that his bunnies usually nibble on mints while working a crowd. “They’ll typically chew gum or have some kind of mint to keep their throat from drying out,” he says.

10. They use bunny handlers to prevent knockdowns.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
An Easter Bunny makes a young girl's day.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Any professional bunny knows that having an assistant watching their back is the best way to ensure an appearance goes smoothly. “Your vision is limited and you can’t really look to the left or right,” Rothenberg says. “Having an assistant prevents kids from running up behind you.”

11. They have damaged butts.

In order to ease apprehensive kids, Joseph advocates for his bunnies to squat near a child rather than bend over. “It gets them at a child’s level so they can touch and feel for themselves,” he says. “But a bunny that does a lot of squatting winds up needing their [costume] butts re-sewn. I’ve repaired a lot of them.” Joseph will also invite mothers to sit on the bunny’s lap so fearful children are more likely to approach. “You don’t want to prod the kid,” he says.

12. They’re not just for easter.

While bunny costume season is a fleeting few weeks, companies are happy to roll out their rabbits for other occasions. Once, Ellison sent out a bunny for a customer’s Alice in Wonderland-themed gathering. “The client wanted the White Rabbit, so we dressed up our bunny in a vest and top hat and gave him an over-sized pocket watch. It worked out great.”

This piece originally ran in 2017.

The 48 Most Frequently Banned Wedding Songs

Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images
Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images

Who among us hasn't attended a wedding and cringed at the playlist? In 2017, stats/polling site FiveThirtyEight asked more than two dozen professional DJs who had DJ’d around 200 weddings what songs couples ban from their weddings and, after surveying 182 wedding playlists, came up with a list of 48 songs. They gave each song a percentage, which represents the share of weddings that banned the song.

The first 10 on the list represent silly dances people like to do but shouldn’t do, like The Chicken Dance, The Macarena, and The Electric Slide. After that, the list starts to see overplayed songs like “Don’t Stop Believin',’” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Sweet Caroline,” and call-and-response songs like “Shout.” The list contains a mix of new and old hip-hop, R&B, and pop hits, and several songs ended up tied.

Interestingly, a few songs from FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 ultimate wedding playlist also appear on the banned list, including “Hey Ya!,” “Uptown Funk,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Call Me Maybe.”

You may or may not agree with this list, but don’t feel bad if you decide to ban any of these songs from your own wedding playlist—chances are, someone out there agrees with you.

  1. “The Chicken Dance”

  1. “Cha-Cha Slide” // DJ Casper

  1. “Macarena” // Los Del Rio

  1. “Cupid Shuffle” // Cupid

  1. “YMCA” // Village People

  1. “Electric Boogie (Electric Slide)” // Marcia Griffiths

  1. “Hokey Pokey”

  1. “Wobble” // V.I.C.

  1. “Happy” // Pharrell Williams

  1. “Shout” // Isley Brothers

  1. “Love Shack” // The B-52's

  1. “We Are Family” // Sister Sledge

  1. “Blurred Lines” // Robin Thicke

  1. “Celebration” // Kool & The Gang

  1. Cotton Eye Joe” // Rednex

  1. “Dancing Queen” // ABBA

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” // Journey

  1. “Single Ladies” // BeyoncÉ

  1. “Sweet Caroline” // Neil Diamond

  1. “Turn Down for What” // DJ Snake & Lil Jon

  1. “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” // SilentÓ

  1. “Hot in Herre” // Nelly

  1. “Mony Mony” // Billy Idol

  1. “All About That Bass” // Meghan Trainor

  1. “Baby Got Back” // Sir Mix-a-Lot

  1. “Booti Call” // Blackstreet

  1. “Gangnam Style” // Psy

  1. “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” // Big & Rich

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” // Bee Gees

  1. “Sweet Home Alabama” // Lynyrd Skynyrd

  1. “Uptown Funk” // Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

  1. “Wagon Wheel” // Nathan Carter

  1. “What Do You Mean?” // Justin Bieber

  1. “All of Me” // John Legend

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” // Queen

  1. “Brown Eyed Girl” // Van Morrison

  1. “Call Me Maybe” // Carly Rae Jepsen

  1. “Footloose” // Kenny Loggins

  1. “Get Low” // Lil Jon

  1. “Hey Ya!” // Outkast

  1. “Hotline Bling” // Drake

  1. “I Will Survive” // Gloria Gaynor

  1. “My Heart Will Go On” // CÉline Dion

  1. “SexyBack” // Justin Timberlake

  1. “Shake It Off” // Taylor Swift

  1. “Sugar” // Maroon 5

  1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” // Bonnie Tyler

  1. “You Shook Me All Night Long” // AC/DC

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