Once upon a time the world seemed more fluid than it does today. The borders of countries waxed and waned with their fortunes; nations winked into (and then out of) existence in the blink of a historian’s proverbial eye.
Yet these days we look at our maps and such things feel far more fixed. With the exception of an East/West Germany here, and a post-Soviet ‘Stan there, it hardly seems like the borders on our modern globes have changed very much. Yet you would be very wrong to assume so…
In the last century alone, hundreds of nations have popped into being, defying our proud maps. Admittedly, these countries are unlikely to ever have a seat at the UN and often they only have a handful of citizens, but that doesn’t stop the Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses of the world’s ‘micronations’ from taking their tongue-in-cheek sovereignty very seriously.
In Northern Nevada lies the Republic of Molossia, surrounded on all sides by its neighbour, the United States of America. The country lays claim to 6.3 acres of lands across two provinces – Nevada’s Harmony Province and the uninhabited Desert Homestead Province in Southern California. Overseeing this under-recognised dominion is the friendliest dictator on the US continent, His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh, with aide of his benevolent First Lady, Madame Adrianne Baugh.
“We never really seceded,” said President Baugh, “we ‘came into being’. We never issued a Declaration of Independence, or that sort of thing, we just decided that we wanted our own nation and thus created one from scratch.”
Molossia’s history dates back to 1977 when Baugh and his friend James started what would evolve into one of the world’s most long-lasting micronations.
“We watched the old Peter Sellers movie, “The Mouse That Roared” and we were inspired by the idea of a tiny country that goes to war with the US, expecting to lose, and instead wins. Thus we decided to start out own nation, then called the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, with me as Prime Minister and James as King,” the President said.
“Eventually he moved on to other projects, but I stayed with it through the years. In 1998 I obtained property here in Northern Nevada and it was only natural to then raise the flag and make this land the home of our nation, renamed The Republic of Molossia.”
The country’s citizens now number 26, which includes their 4 dogs and numerous expatriates now living in the United States. In 2013 Molossia also enjoyed a growing tourism industry attracting about 100 visitors from all over the world.
“We get more and more every year. I think what brings them is the idea of a tiny country within the giant US, and our quirky sense of humour and imagination.”
“There are a number of things to see when visiting Molossia, including our customs shack, Post Office, Bank, Trading Company, The Office of the President, the Tiki Hut Bar and Grill, the Molossia Railroad, the Tower of the Winds, the Peace Pole, Republic Square, Norton Park and more. We have everything a larger country has, in a small package,” Baugh says.
Which, of course, raises the question of Molossia’s relationship with its nearest large neighbour, the US? Sadly, the history of micronations is littered with well-meaning nations pushed out of existence by overbearing ‘macronations’. “Very peaceful,” the President assures. “The US ignores Molossia, which is fine by us!”
“Our motto is “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”, which in practice means we’re willing to try just about any idea that might enhance or advance Molossia. Our guiding vision is one of imagination, creativity and “thinking outside the box”, something we’re rather good at!”
Whether it’s participating in the country’s national sport of broomball – which relies heavily on the use of brooms, no less – or programming the country’s monthly radio station broadcast, there is a great deal to do in the business of running a country.
“Actually, my life is very busy, but not that hard. There are always plenty of tasks to be done when running the nation. I get dozens of emails a week, ranging from media queries to visit request to requests for help from other folks starting their own nations.”
“In addition, I run all of the various agencies of Molossia, which can keep my hands full. I’ve never had a serious challenge to my authority and I think that’s the main reason – no one else wants my job, too much work!”
Yet with the burden of power come the other responsibilities of nationhood, such as national security. In 2006 President Baugh assisted in the founding of the micronation of Mustachistan – led by Sultan Ali-Ali Achsenfree. Yet not long after, Mustachistan’s claim to large portions of Nevada led them into land disputes with Molossia.
Inevitably the degenerating situation led to a tongue-in-cheek war, in which Molossia was soundly victorious over the course of three battles and Mustachistan agreed to pay reparations in the form of tubes of Cookie Dough. You can watch the newsreel coverage of the war on Molossia’s website.
Later that year, underterrered by their defeat. The Mustachistan Space Program’s reignited tension with their neighbour with the launch of their Goatshead Rocket – an event now dubbed by Molossians as the Mustachistan Missile Crisis. Thankfully the situation – and the rocket – were diffused by an successful Molossian raid on the Mustachistani missile complex.
And in 2013/2014 Molossia also celebrated 30 years of uninterrupted cold war with East Germany. They even allow you to support the war effort by buying war bonds.
But despite these martial hiccups, Molossia is an advocate of peace and is open and liberal in their politics.
“I am indeed a dictator, but rest-assured a benevolent one. We have no political prisons in Molossia, or oppression. I pay attention to my people’s needs and try to address every concern. It’s a very happy nation, and that makes me happy!”
Admirably, Molossia espouses equal rights for everyone – whether straight or gay; no censorship of the press – because the government writes the newspaper; and no death penalty – as their website says, ‘With so few citizens, who would we shoot?’
Perhaps some larger nations should sit up and take notice.
“I think different people take away different things from Molossia,” says the President. “To some we are an exercise in personal sovereignty and independence, to others we’re an example of imagination and creativity and to others we’re a quirky roadside stop.”
“I think we’re really all of those things, but above all we’re a real, live functioning nation. True, we are very small and largely overlooked by larger, better-known nations, but we exist, we’re real, and we have everything those nations have, albeit a lot smaller.”
With over 30 years involved in developing his micronation, President Baugh would like to see the world’s unrecognised nations start to build upon their individual successes to inspire a movement that might one day see the value of micronations recognised. As such, President Baugh has been an active instigator of international cooperation and diplomacy between micronations.
“Things are fairly peaceful in general between micronations. Of course, there are always troublemakers, and some newer micronationalists have a predilection for declaring war randomly on everybody else. But that dies off quickly as they discover that getting along is a much better approach.”
“We try to teach and mentor newer micronationalists, and help them grow their nations into something of which they can be proud.”
For a taste of life as a tiny nation you can ‘Like’ Molossia on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Their website www.molossia.org is chock full of information, including the protocol for visiting should you be in the neighbourhood. If you’d like a few pointers on how to start your own nation the President recommends checking out micronations.webs.com.
And please share or tweet this article if you enjoyed it 🙂
Also of interest: One Small World’s Top 10: History’s Strangest Micronations
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