Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Republic of Minerva

Size: 4 square miles

Micronations are often formed by groups hoping to advance political agendas and experiment with new forms of government, and of these the Republic of Minerva is probably the most famous. The country was started in 1972 by Michael Oliver, a real estate millionaire with a strong libertarian bent who envisioned a society with no taxes or social intrusions by government. He and his followers staked out a small cay in the South Pacific, and after dredging it with sand to create an artificial island, declared it a new country called the Republic of Minerva. A group of settlers arrived on the island in January of ’72 after the construction of a small tower, and the country raised a flag and declared itself sovereign.

Unlike most micronations, which are largely ignored by the international community, the Republic of Minerva actually caused quite a stir among the other South Pacific nations. After Minerva issued a declaration of independence and began coining money, a small conference was held between Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, and some other island nations to discuss the implications of there being a new country in the region. Tonga soon declared that Minerva and its nearby reefs were part of their country, and they even sent a small force to reclaim it and lower the Minervan flag. The Republic of Minerva has since been abandoned, but it was only the first of many experimental island nations, some of which remain in the works today.

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