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The Grand Duchy of Flandrensis is a micronation that consists of five small islands in West-Antarctica. This first sentence alone already surprises a lot of people and the claims look ridiculous for the majority, but is it?
If you Google “micronations” you will find almost all the same definitions: “The term micronation, which literally means small nation, is a neologism. A micronation is an entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not officially recognized by world governments or major international organizations. Micronations may be similar in structure to established sovereign states, including territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens, albeit on a much smaller scale” (see FAQ for more details).
But why would someone start his own country? When you are a private people and you want to act in society, what can you do? You can create a non-for-profit organisation, you can create an NGO, you can create a company, you can create a labour union, a political party, you’ve got plenty of tools. Micronations, when done cleverly and when done interestingly, they become another tool that private people can use to achieve their goals.
The definitions above are similar to the foundation of Flandrensis. In August 2008 Niels Vermeersch, a 19-year old student began researching micronations online. Attracted to the idea of starting an own nation he created the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis on 4 September 2008. However, originally founded as a temporary hobby for recreational purposes the micronation evolved into an unique, serious and environmental project thanks to the many enthusiast people.
Flandrensis: No humans, Only Nature!
We believe that Antarctica is one of the few places on this planet to remain relatively untouched by human activity and we strongly believe that it should remain a nature only available for scientific research, well beyond the expiration of the Antarctic Treaty in 2048!
The "Grand Duchy of Flandrensis" is a micronational project: based on a loophole in the Antarctic Treaty it hereby claims five small islands in West-Antarctica. Without any intention to achieve international recognition. Our message is more important than our self-declared sovereignty.
Antarctica and its surrounding waters are under enormous pressure from a variety of forces, as climate change, political and economic factors. We already know climate change is tremendously transforming the area, we assume due to political and economic factors the situation will only become worse. Antarctica is one of the only places on earth that is not inhabited by human beings on a regular basis; sadly enough, more and more people – mostly tourists – visit the Antarctic Peninsula which means more disturbances to the already fragile ecosystem.
While the Antarctic Treaty forbids commercial mineral extraction on the continent, the treaty doesn't prevent offshore exploration, which is becoming more feasible as technology advances and demand for oil and other resources grows due to a continually growing population.
Climate change in Antarctica has dramatic effects both globally and locally - and harms some of the world's most beloved species. Studies have found Antarctica has lost about 100 billion tons of continental ice a year since 1993, causing the global sea level to rise by about 0.2mm a year.
With the claim to be “The only country in the world that doesn't want its land inhabited by people” Flandrensis wants to make a statement to the international community.
We are a worldwide community of people who are passionate about Antarctica and are concerned about the global warming and its impact on our world and life. Our goal is to warn and inform people about the importance of the White Continent, the impacts of global warming on our lives and to create a Flandrensisian identity that promotes respect for the environment and all living things on the Earth.
Flandrensis is located on five small islands of the coasts of West Antarctica: Siple Island, Cherry Island, Maher Island, Pranke Island and Carney Island and based its claim on an interpretation of the Antarctic Treaty (1959). The treaty prohibits any nation from claiming Antarctic territory between 90-150° (West-Antarctica), but the treaty didn’t mention claims by individual persons. So Niels Vermeersch claimed the islands in his personal name and sent letters to the United Nations and to the nations who signed the Antarctic Treaty to inform them of his claim, thereafter he grant his islands to the Grand Duchy. All of these countries ignored the territorial claim of Flandrensis.
Siple Island is a 110 km long snow-covered island lying east of Wrigley Gulf along the Getz Ice Shelf off Bakutis Coast of Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica. Its area is 6,390 km² and it is dominated by the potentially active shield volcano Mount Siple, rising to 3,110 m making this the 17th ranking island in the world by maximum altitude. Siple Island is the home of a colony of 7,500 emperor pinguïns.
Carney Island is located between Siple Island and Wright Island along the coast of Marie Byrd Land, it’s an ice-covered island, 110 km long and about 8,500 km² in area. Nearby are located Maher Island, Cherry Island and Pranke Island.