How to start a micronation?

The beginning

Interested to start your own micronation? Congratulations and good luck with your new adventure! We assume you’ve visited our website and read about what a micronation really is (not a roleplaying or fantasy game). In this guide we want to share our experiences and give you some advice to start. You will not find any tips where you can buy crowns, medals and if people need to call you “Your Imperial Highness” or “Your Serene Highness” (there are Facebook groups for that). But if you follow this guide – together with the research at websites of other micronations – you’re ready to join the worldwide micronational community.

Vincennes (2018)

Set a goal for your micronation

Your first question should be “Why would I declare independence and start my own micronation?”. Just for fun is not a wrong answer! That is how it started for Flandrensis (a temporary hobby for two weeks, which got a bit out of hand). Micronationalism is fun, but you need something more. You can disagree with your government or want to protest against social problems in your country. Being proud of your family and history is a perfect basis for your micronation. If your only motivation is that you have a royal ancestor in the 18th degree and you’re only interested in having a title, wearing a crown or fancy costume with medals and/or your only micronational activity is selling titles on your website, then you give us true micronationalists a bad name of fantasts, scam or roleplaying.

Micronationalists are creative people. Once you have an idea, you can create a non-for-profit organisation, an NGO, a company, or even a political party. You’ve got plenty of tools. Micronations, when done cleverly and interestingly, become another tool that people can use to achieve their goals. These goals could be defending LGBT-rights, fighting against climate change or promoting local traditions or heritage. Try to separate yourself from the many “bedroom-micronations” and create your micronation based on a good concept. You decide!

Micronational seriousness

Decide how serious you are about this project. Some micronations are created with serious intent, while others exist as a hobby, stunt, or are the products of megalomania and mental instability (we certainly hope you’re not the last one, otherwise you will be doomed to be a pariah in the micronational community). Run your micronation as a real country, but always stay realistic because you’re not a future world power (and yet, many young micronationalists behave like that). We in Flandrensis consider ourselves to be a serious ecological project and run our micronation as professional as possible (even the Grand Duke consider Flandrensis as his hobby). Molossia and Aigues-Mortes are two examples of micronations that combine professionalism with fun.

The basics

Before you start, think carefully about your concept (see previous steps). If you change something every month like your name or flag, nobody will take you seriously. The founder of Flandrensis took a few weeks the time to create the basics and another two months before entering the micronational community.

Chose a name

The name of your micronation is the first thing people hear! The name you will chose is your “trademark”, when you speak it you must be proud! Do some research, and be creative. Don’t try to start the 20th Atlantis or duplicate another nation that has already been done, just because you think you can do better. Instead, try something original, like naming your nation after a geographical location like Aigues-Mortes, Saugeais and Seborga. A nations name with a reference to a physical geographical area, like Sealand (land at sea), Westarctica (Western Antarctica), and Woodlandia (woodlands of Canada), makes it easy for people to remember your micronations name. Furthermore, having a micronation with a geographical name like Flandrensis (meaning flooding land), and having different (Belgian) origins, but with the physical land located elsewhere (Antarctica), is perfectly fine…obviously! Some micronations get their names from religious origins, such as the French micronation Angyalistan (Hungarian for angyal), and the micronation St. Charlie (after the Cardinal (and Saint) Charles Borromeo). You might want to name your nation inspired by a book like, West Who and Ruritania, based on ideology like Libertia, or in honour of the founders name, like Matthewtopia and Austenasia. These are all great examples of micronations with original and memorable names. Your micronation should be just as great. You decide, it’s your micronation. Good luck!

National symbols

Take pictures of citizens with the flag.

Your most important symbol is not the crown on your head or the twelve medals on your fancy costume. It’s your flag! Your flag and the coat of arms are a reflection of your national identity, so take your time with the creation. If you add symbols or elements like bare breast or someone giving the middle finger on your flag, nobody will take your micronation serious (the same with controversial symbols like swastikas).  The five basic Commandments for creating your flag: (1) Keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory. (2) Use 2–3 basic colours and limit the number of colours on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard colour set. (3). Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal. (4) Use meaningful symbolism. The Flandrensian symbols are inspired by regional medieval history. Are there symbols related to your goals, territory, local history or an important historical event that involved an ancestor of yours? Behind every symbol you need a story. (5) Don’t be lazy. Avoid duplicating other flags.

Claim territory for your nation

You don’t have to buy any land for your nation, you just have to claim it. A majority of micronations have claimed their home or backyard. You can claim an uninhabited island or a deserted section of the forest, or search for something public, such as a park or an empty lot. Flandrensis is not the only micronation with Antarctic claims and several micronations have claims on Bir Tawil. Depending upon the concept of your micronation, you can claim a star, planet, garbage patch, a boat, an offshore drilling rig or other unique places. Just remember to keep your claim realistic, don’t claim entire states or provinces and consider the population loyal subjects of your nation.

Population

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MG_3641-scaled.jpg
Always a good idea to recruite your friends as citizens (future Grand Duchess on the right)

Most starting micronations have around 10 citizens. Start with your close friends (that’s how it started with Flandrensis) or family. Convince them to join your micronational adventure by giving them a title, or promise them a position. Get their friends to join, and their friends, etc. In no time, you should have enough people to organize a cultural event, like a National Championship Bowling. Post pictures of meetings and activities on your social media and you’ll attract new citizens (the first 21 Flandrensians were all friends of the Grand Duke, the first “outsider” joined in 2009). Don’t be too enthusiastic, building a micronation is one thing, and creating a community is another and sometimes difficult. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t reach 20 citizens in your first year. A piece of important advice, don’t lie about your number of citizens to look better. Don’t consider everyone who likes your page on Facebook as a citizen and don’t poach (stealing citizens in other micronations). Micronationalists who publish fake information or create fake identities or profiles on social media are generally ignored by the micronational community.

Flandrensian Warning: Passports and identity cards look legitimate and professional, but can be used for illegal crimes or worse. Unprofessional micronations sell these government documents to refugees to make money. In Flandrensis we chose to only provide a certificate of citizenship.

Construct a government for your nation

Being a micronationalist is much more than calling yourself President or Emperor. You can easily start the basics of government on your own, though you may need people to help you with the further development of your micronation. The truth is, that micronationalists are actually small dictators (yes, even in Flandrensis the Grand Duke holds a veto right). Nobody likes to handle over power or control about the micronation that they founded, and that’s the likely reason why most micronations collapse within the first six months. They want citizens, but don’t give something in return to keep them involved.

Chose a type of government that fits with your choice of political ideology. The most important advice is to “keep it simple”. Many micronations have complicated constitutions with drawn out procedures, strategies, elections, and more, but with not enough citizens to translate them from paper into reality. Even Flandrensis had more than ten constitutional reforms! Just ask yourself the question, how can I manage my “organisation” in the best and the easiest way? Between 2008-2013 all political meetings in Flandrensis were in Belgium (see pictures), today the Grand Ducal Cabinet is from all over the world and have online meetings.

Create a website

Generally, we don’t contact our own government through Facebook or other social media. Instead, we use their website. Nobody joins a micronation or signs a treaty without proper research. A website is the best place to begin. Don’t start with creating a page on Wikipedia or other similar sites. Unless you’re mentioned in newspapers or books, it’s a waste of time. A page on MicroWiki or social media are useful, but a good website with factual and real information is the basics.

Be active outside the internet

This is one of the biggest challenges for a micronation. Unfortunately, many micronations are just a “website” with a self-declared ruler behind the screen of his computer. Be active outside the internet. Pictures of real-life meetings or cultural events with your citizens is fantastic publicity for your micronation. Additionally, joining a micronational conference, convention or a state visit to a nearby micronation can boost popularity. You’ll be surprised to find that micronational allies and partners can change into friends for life (and this is also a Flandrensian experience)!

Develop diplomatic relationships in the micronational community

Having diplomatic relations is one of the conditions to be recognized as a statehood (Montevideo Convention). There are some micronational communities active on social media sites like Twitter or Discord, but most communities are generally active on Facebook, Micronationals and Alternative Polities, Micronations and Royal Houses, Micronational Forum, etc. The reason why there are so many groups is because the (worldwide) micronational community is very multicultural and there is a lot of diversity. Different opinions on political ideologies, LGBT-rights, religion, can lead to conflicts and micronationalists to leave a group and start their own nation. Additionally, there is a range of difference in ages between micronationalists and younger micronationalists have become more active in the MicroWiki-community. Generally, age is irrelevant and many young micronationalists act very mature for their age and participate in discussions with adults. The less mature ages seem to be a part of the Discord-groups with 11.000 times the word “f*ck” in it, usually declaring war on each other.

Flandrensian Advise: When joining a micronational group, present yourself with a short explanation about who you are and link to our website. There is only one unwritten, but golden rule, you’re always representing your micronation! Acting like you’re a micronational superpower, using aggressive or insulting language (or just act like a micronational Trump), you will lose credibility and reputation amongst micronations. If you met a fantastic individual, don’t waste your time! Move on. Ignore micronations you dislike, some only stay active by bulling others.
Some micronationalist are convinced that creating a micronational UN is the best way to start diplomatic relations. There is even a name for it, YAMO (Yet Another Micronational Organisation). There are few long-time and stable micronational organisations such as the Grand Unified Micronational (MicroWiki-community), the Antarctic Micronational Union (AMU) and La MicroFrancophony (French-speaking micronations) that unify diplomatic relations, unless you have a different concept for your organisation.

Flandrensian Lesson: We have signed more than 200 treaties of friendship and mutual recognition, just check the page and notice how much of them don’t exist anymore. Don’t accept every request. You have the right to be selective and you don’t need a signed treaty to have friendly discussions on social media. If you request recognition from a more established micronation, take your time in developing your own micronation so they can see on your website or social media. If you truly want to experience the very best of micronational diplomacy, meet another micronationalist in real life!

Stay active and change when necessary

Since 2008, Flandrensis had been threatened with collapsed three times. If you’re citizens are not active anymore or lose interest, you become unmotivated. Imagine running a company. If you don’t have any customers, you need to take action before you become bankrupt.

Originally, Flandrensis started as a political simulation with elections and political parties, but when the citizens lost interest, the micronation transformed into a cultural movement. A movement which organized monthly activities, like National Championship Bowling, Flandrensis Master Chef, the Flandrensian Games, and more. Lastly, the movement formed into an ecological organisation. Keep the basics of your micronation, but don’t hesitate to change when necessary!

Did you complete the basics and created a strong fundament for your micronation? Now the real adventure can start! There are so many projects to keep you busy, stamps, coins, medals, podcast radio, newspaper, propaganda on social media, meetings with citizens, etc. Don’t forget to learn from others, but focus on your own micronation!

Do’s and Don’ts

In 2009, Flandrensis published the “Manifest of the Micronational Spirit” in the micronational community. To be respected as a true micronationalist, simply follow these 13 guidelines.

  1. Do show respect for all forms of micronations, treat them as equal, and never act superior.
  2. Do treat everyone with respect. You’re always representing your micronation!
  3. Do be honest about your micronation. Do not spread false information to look better.
  4. Do respect micronationalists and their personal lives. Not everyone is a fulltime micronationalist, and things like family, work, or school may have priority.
  5. Don’t poach! Poaching is an unflattering term used by micronations, to mean the act of stealing citizens of other micronations.
  6. Don’t steal from other micronations. Find inspiration by creating your own micronation! Don’t copy complete pages or websites from other micronations.
  7. Don’t engage or start micronational wars. All conflicts are a failure of diplomacy. Engaging in a micronational war is a sure fire way to destroy your reputation. Micronational war achieves nothing, ruins the efforts and enjoyment of others, and makes pariahs of its proponents.
  8. Don’t interfere with the internal affairs of other micronations. Focus on your own micronation!
  9. Don’t be unrealistic! You will not be a future world leader, lead armies, or invest millions of money to build your micronation. The moment you declare that your micronation is a “real” nation, it could be said that you possibly suffer from megalomania, unless you manage to join the United Nations. Simply put, keep it realistic.
  10. Do work on your own micronation first. If you are professional or have a strong concept developed, other micronations will look at your micronation for inspiration.
  11. Do earn respect! Don’t bully or dominate other micronations, or you won’t receive any respect.
  12. Don’t be a micronational superpower! Micronational superpowers don’t exist! Micronationalists who work hard and put a lot of time and effort into growing their micronations and the community continuously, larger worldwide, are an example for people who believe they are a “superpower”.
  13. Do be a micronationalist outside the internet. The internet is only a medium and not a way to look active. Try to start activities or projects for your micronation outside of the internet.

Useful links