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What is a micronation?
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. Some micronations are created with serious intent, while others exist as a hobby or stunt. The first reference in English to the word micronation in a popular book appears in 1978, the term has since come to be used also retrospectively to refer to earlier unrecognized entities, some of which date to as far back as the 17th century. The concept of a “micronation” is most closely related to cultural nationalism, and can be broken down into three main categories: role playing, social experiments and political simulations. Often, people assume that those participating in micronations fall within the first category, immediately dismissing the entire concept as a farce. To some, the idea may seem, at face value, childish, ridiculous or even narcissistic, but there exist many micro nationalists who go beyond these negative stereotypes. Not every Grand Duke or Empress is out for self-glorification.
Micronations should not be confused with internationally recognized but geographically tiny nations such as Fiji, Monaco, and San Marino, for which the term microstate is more commonly used. Micronations generally have several common features:
Micronations may have a form and structure like established sovereign states, including territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Micronations are often quite small, in both their claimed territory and claimed populations — although there are some exceptions to this rule, with different micronations having different methods of citizenship.
Micronations may issue formal instruments such as postage stamps, coins, banknotes and passports, and confer honours and titles of nobility.
The academic study of micronations and microstates is termed 'micropatrology'. The hobby or activity of establishing and operating micronations is known as micronationalism.
So Flandrensis is a fantasy nation?
No! Many imaginary countries or nations exist only on the internet or fictional maps. Those countries are active in online communities only and their claims are located on virtual maps or imaginary worlds. The correct definition for those imaginary countries is Geofiction. There are many similarities between Geoficton and micronationalism. Flandrensis however, is real-life and it organizes cultural events regularly and all goals and achievements in Flandrensis are realistic and executable.
Most micronations are located on the personal property of the founder, but Flandrensis is in Antarctica. What made you start looking at the Antarctic in the first place?
Firstly, because we searched for a place that doesn’t belong to any country and was uninhabited by people. We could claim everything between 90-150 degrees but a small island was big enough for our plans. We are a group of people who are concerned about global warming and Antarctica is the perfect symbol for it.
What are your plans with your Antarctic territory?
What made Flandrensis unique is that we’re the only country in the world that doesn’t want people on its territory! Antarctica is one of the few places on this planet to remain relatively untouched by humans and we strongly believe that it should remain a nature preserve only available for scientific research well beyond the expiration of the Antarctic Treaty in 2048. The territorial claims of the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis are a statement to the international community: to raise awareness for climate change.
So, you don’t have any plans to colonize Antarctica?
Our motto is: "No humans, only nature"!
What actions do you take to raise more attention for the global warming?
We're not an NGO like Greenpeace or WWF with enough funds to launch campaigns. Flandrensis is a micronation and we remain realistic, but small actions together can make a difference to climate change. We send protest letters to governments or companies who violate environmental agreements in Antarctica (whale hunting, mining, pollution, etc.) or support letters to people and organizations who protect the white continent. In Flandrensis we promote the importance of green energy friendly alternatives, recycling, reducing Co2, etc. and we signed several ecologic charters with other micronations who shares our values. The social media is an important tool for us to share our message.
Are your Antarctic claims legal?
From our view, yes. The Antarctic Treaty prevented any new claims on Antarctica by countries 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 grants his islands to the Grand Duchy. The territorial claims of the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis are a statement to the international community: Antarctica is one of the only places on earth that is not continuously inhabited by human beings and we want to keep it that way!
Which countries have established diplomatic ties with Flandrensis?
Flandrensis has not sought to establish formal bilateral relations with any other state, and does not intend to do so. Our message is more important than our self-declared sovereignty. But Flandrensis is worldwide active in the micronational community and since its foundation Flandrensis signed 175 treaties of friendship and mutual recognition with other micronations.
Your name and symbols have no references to the white continent. Why not the Grand Duchy of Siple Island with a penguin in the flag?
That’s true. Flandrensis was originally founded in 2008 by a history student as a temporary hobby for two weeks. With the first sketches, he searched for inspiration in medieval history and not in Antarctica. However, weeks turned into months, months into years and thanks to many enthusiastic people, Flandrensis developed into an environmental project. In 2016 the government organized a referendum to change the name and national symbols, but the majority voted to keep everything.
What kind of name is Flandrensis?
The micronation is primarily inspired on the medieval Flemish history. “Pagus Flandrensis” is the oldest Latin name of Flanders (8th century) and means "overflow, flooding".
What is the symbolism of the Flandrensian national symbols?
The flag of Flandrensis is inspired by the first Belgian flag from 1830. The original Belgian flag's yellow band has been replaced by white which symbolizes a new beginning. For the same reason, there are also two lions on the coat of arms, based on a hypothesis about the first Flemish lion around 1133-1135.
So Flandrensis is a mix of ecologic and medieval elements. Is Flandrensis a feudal state?
No, we’re a constitutional monarchy but we integrate several medieval elements that are part of our national heritage. Every citizen has the right to his own coat of arms and we have our own Order of Knighthood: The Order of the Melting Mountain that is dedicated to people who protect our white continent.
Why is Flandrensis a monarchy? Are you a community of royalists?
Not at all. The founder took the medieval County of Flanders as a source of inspiration for his micronation: name, symbols, heraldry, etc. To keep the feudal system, he chose for a Grand Duchy instead of a republic.
Can I have a title of nobility if I join your micronation?
If that is your intention to join Flandrensis the answer is: no! Title collectors are not welcome in our micronation. The Grand Duke of Flandrensis only awards titles to citizens as a sign of appreciation and respect for their efforts and contributions toward the nation or the environment.
Are your titles of nobility real?
Our titles have only a value in the community of micronations. Nobility is as a medieval aspect part of our cultural tradition but in Flandrensis there is no place for ego’s. Our citizens don’t use their title outside micronationalism, not even the Grand Duke.
What is the national language(s) of Flandrensis?
Dutch / Flemish and English.
What is the population of Flandrensis?
As of 31 December 2016, Flandrensis had a population of 427 citizens, living in over 45 countries.
How can I become a Flandrensian?
Those wishing to apply for Flandrensian citizenship can complete and submit our online application form. Participation is encouraged but not required. We have available jobs, but no one is required to take one.
What does it cost to join?
There is no charge to become a citizen of Flandrensis and you don’t need to pay taxes.
Can I get an official passport of Flandrensis?
No! There are a lot of examples of micronations who produced professional looking documents as novelty souvenirs, but were later victims of criminals who sold them to ignorant refugees as passports for real existing countries. Or even worse, a few so-called “micronations” that welcomed refugees with these falsified documents...to make money… It is cruel to give those people false hope, they have lost everything already. Applications with the request to have such documents will be ignored.
Where can I meet other Flandrensians?
If you are registered as a citizen you are welcome to join the Facebookgroup “De Flandrianen”.