Want to Start a Micronation?

Photo: Marshall Mayer

A group of people banded together to buy an island off the coast of Belize as part of their big dream to start an independent micronation — maybe. The island, which was purchased for $180,000 after a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $250,000, will be called Islandia, which is a reference to the fact that it is an island and they want it to be a nation. “Who hasn’t dreamed of making their own country?” one of the founders told CNN. “If a bunch of regular people can make this work, perhaps it can be a force for good.”

Right now, making it work involves camping tents, water and food they presumably brought with them from other places, and nowhere — apart from the obvious — to go to the bathroom. This has not put off potential partners, as one told CNN, “Why wouldn’t I invest? I can tell all my friends that I own an island!” (Apparently, the universal tenet of Islandia is the assumption that everyone’s life goal is to buy an island as a bit.)

The idea of founding a state of one’s own isn’t new, and has had particular purchase among villain-type tech libertarians. (“I’m not exactly sure that I’m going to succeed in building a libertarian utopia any time soon,” Peter Thiel once reflected, which strikes me as a fairly prophetic assessment of Islandia. “You need to have a version where you could get started with a budget of less than $50 billion.”) Some of Islandia’s founders at least seem to acknowledge that the whole idea was mostly a marketing tool and that they are just camping and drinking beer on an island in Belize, whereas others told CNN, “We are as close to a nation as you can get, without getting an army and a navy.” There is the small matter that any development on the island will have to have permits approved by Belize, a real country, and Islandia’s website acknowledges that it is “very much part of a host nation, and will be treated as such.”

In further gestures toward cosplaying independence, Islandia already has a national anthem and a provisional government — but it’s lost its proposed flag and passport stamp, a situation that derailed plans for a flag-raising ceremony. Its founders are also talking about “creating an underwater sculpture garden of world dictators,” regenerating the coral reef that surrounds the island, and starting a “glamping” destination, which does not seem like it’d be great for the coral reef.

Marshall Mayer, one of the Islandians, rationalized his purchase by saying, “Who wouldn’t want to buy an island?” They may soon find out.

Want to Start a Micronation?