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 and some are the products of megalomania and mental instability. 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 micronationalists who go beyond these negative stereotypes. Not every Grand Duke or Empress is out for self-glorification.
But why would someone start his own country? When you have an ideal you can create a non-for-profit organisation, an NGO, a company, a labour Union or even a political party, you’ve got plenty of tools. Micronations, when done cleverly and when done interestingly, they become another tool that people can use to achieve their goals.
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.