5 Models of Statehood

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    “Starting your own country is a tricky business. You don’t just wake up one sunny morning and declare yourself an independent state…well at least that’s what I discovered when I met Erwin Strauss.” – Danny Wallice
    Twenty-five years ago, after watching the Ealing comedy classic Passport to Pimlico, Erwin decided to write a book all about how you go about starting your own country. Although the plot is a little limited he does suggest there are five different options available to the budding nation builder.

    Model Country

    Creating a model country is a bit like setting up a Hornby railway in your loft…you have to think of it as a hobby. Hours of fun can be had making flags, designing your currency and stamps, issuing passports to your friends and creating various regal paraphernalia. Just declare your home as an independent state and take it from there. Like many of my fellow world leaders I think starting and running a country is a serious business. Comparing it to a hobby is like comparing the European Union to a bit of a night out down the pub with your mates….Oi, Schroeder did you spill my pint? No, no it is a serious business, for serious people like myself.

    Ship Under Flag of Convenience

    This is an easy one…just get yourself a boat and contact a small nation such as Liberia or Panama and ask if you can borrow their flag. They may well ask you for a annual fee but once you’ve got that flag the high seas are yours. In the past these floating ‘countries’ have been popular for pirate radio stations, gambling, free banking, and were used for the distribution of alcohol during the Prohibition era in the US. Today there is even an ocean cruiser sailing around the world, ironically called The World, providing those with enough money to afford it a floating tax haven so they can make even more money…nice.

    Unfortunately for me anything involving boats was never going to be an option due to my ability to feel seasick by just looking at the coastline on a map!


    The key to starting your own country in the vonu model is not to tell anyone about it. Vonuists live out of sight and out of mind of the government of the country they are setting up their country in. The good news is that this means you won’t have to pay any taxes and you and your citizens will be able to live as you choose. The bad news…well you might have to live in a cave, you will definitely have to do without electricity  and more than likely you will have to hunt for your own food. If you like the Tom and Barbara approach to starting your own country then this might be the option for you. I, on the other hand, quite like the luxuries of life…you know, double glazing, regular showers, pizza delivered to your country whenever you have a hankering for an Americana with extra olives…that sort of thing.


    With this approach, you declare the independence of a new country, and sit back and wait for the existing country that claims the territory to do its worst. This, if it comes, normally takes the form of various legal actions to collect taxes, so, it could prove very costly. But don’t worry too much: one of the fundamental principles of survival for an established government is to do nothing unless necessary, so as long as you don’t really annoy them, you’ll probably be alright.

    Traditional Sovereignty

    Achieving sovereign status, complete independence and self-government, is the most difficult of objectives – only the most determined pioneers should seek it! Well I’m determined and I like to think of myself as a bit of a pioneer so I’m in.The definition of a sovereign nation is difficult to pin down it all seems to be about other countries’ perceptions of your new nation. Traditionally sovereignty is thought of in terms of such things as membership of the UN, exchange of ambassadors with other sovereign nations and acceptance of passports at international boundaries.It is also a numbers game; the more citizens you have the more seriously the international community is going to take you.
    For a country to be sovereign it must also have some territory that it calls its own and hold on to it at all costs. Like my flat, a territory can be quite small. The Vatican, for example, is considered to be one of the smallest countries on earth, weighing in at just 0.44 sq km.Now, the territory you choose can be claimed or unclaimed. It’s obviously less complicated to go for unclaimed, but there’s not much choice left – the seabed, outer space and part of Antarctica. One mirco nation, called The Kingdoms of Elgaland/Vargaland actually claims that their territory can be found along all border frontier areas between all countries on earth. You could also buy a territory, but as I found out this can be expensive.Be warned. Once you’ve got your territory, you have to DEFEND it. Here, might makes right. There’s no point starting a new country if you’re not willing or able to defend it by force. As the saying goes, ‘Cannon are the final argument of Kings’…does anyone know where I can get a reasonably priced cannon?So, which one suits you best?
    Some things you might want to consider before you embark on your mission: how much money you have to invest, is this a spare-time project or full-time undertaking, can you drop the project if the results are unsatisfactory or is there no-turning-back, can you come and go at will or are you tied to a particular place, is there any chance of being imprisoned or killed?

    Original post and interview by danny wallice

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