The Free State of Jones and other (slightly bonkers) micronations

As a film about an American farmer who battled for independence arrives in cinemas, here are some other real and wannabe teeny-tiny states

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In Free State of Jones, Matthew McConaughey plays a rebellious Mississippi farmer who established a microstate.

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It’s a true story: Southerner Newton Knight united a band of poor white farmers and runaway slaves and led a rebellion during the American Civil War. After fighting over a dozen skirmishes, Knight won control of local government and declared Jones County’s independence from the Confederacy.

Fancy setting up your own microstate? You’re not the first…


Sealand

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The Principality of Sealand is a micronation (an unrecognised microstate) that claims Roughs Tower, an offshore platform in the North Sea which is less than twice the size of a tennis court. Since 2 September 1967, the fort has been home to the Bates family and has its own flag, currency, and passports.

Support can be shown by purchasing a noble title and becoming a lord or a lady of Sealand. They also sell ID cards, and pieces of land (well, tower) to help sustain its independence for years to come. It currently has a population of four and holds the Guinness World Record for “the smallest area to lay claim to nation status”. 

Vatican City

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Vatican City is the smallest microstate in the world in terms of landmass, and is also one of the most important. Officially known as Vatican City State or the State of Vatican City, it’s a walled enclave within Rome.

With a population of 842, Vatican City is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both its area and population. Its economy is supported by the sale of postage stamps, tourist mementos, admission fees and donations from Catholics all over the world.

Frestonia

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The residents of Freston Road in London attempted to secede from the United Kingdom in 1977 when the Greater London Council planned to redevelop the area. The residents were squatters and eventually set up a housing co-op for artists, musicians, writers, actors and activists. Actor David Rappaport was the Foreign Minister and playwright Heathcote Williams served as Ambassador to Great Britain.

San Marino

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Like the Vatican City, San Marino is a landlocked microstate in Italy with 32,576 people living in 37 square miles. Despite their lack of space and natural resources,the people of San Marino have created a thriving finance and tourism industry. They also claim to be one of the oldest surviving sovereign states in the world.

It’s governed by the Constitution of San Marino, a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century. These six books dictate the country’s political system and it is believed that this is one of the earliest written governing documents still in effect.

Kingdom of Lovely

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The Kingdom of Lovely has 58,615 citizens in one East London flat. How? This is an internet-based micronation created by comic writer Danny Wallace who once owned and lived in the flat.

Wallace declared his flat to be a sovereign nation on 1 January 2005 and set about populating the micronation and documenting it all for a television series.

The Free State of Jones is released in cinemas on 30 September. Watch the trailer:


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Sadly we don’t know of any trips to Sealand, but our travel shop can take you to Vatican City.

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