Islands

Islands are possibly the most favored location to place your micronation. Naturally separated from land, they offer a great psychological bonus to any who want to be apart.

Lifestyle considerations

It is not easy to live on an island. Especially living on tropical islands has its little issues.

Energy

A crucial consideration is energy. A combination of various sources is recommended - 'renewable' (solar and wind power) that are unreliable, and classical power generators running on fuel, or methane (it may be possible to convert biomatter into it). If there is a water source of sufficient size, hydroelectric power can be relatively easy to use.

Communication

Unless it is supposed to be an extremely isolationistic colony, to speak with the outside world is highly desirable. Points to consider:

  • cellphone coverage
  • landlines
  • Internet connectivity (speed)
  • TV and other media
  • …and more.

Risks

Hurricanes

…or weather in general can get very dangerous, destroy any weaker structures, and wreck much of the island's economy. There are other natural events to be taken into account, like catastrophic tidal waves, which, while rare, can be even more destructive.

Preventive measures/solutions: have an island with a mountain, or at least hilly terrain, and solid cover. Early warning is invaluable.

Actual volcanic activity or earthquakes are usually contained to specific locations, but watch out for those as well.

Distance

An island is, by definition disconnected from other land. Many of the offered plots are very far from civilization, and even the relatively close may be reached only in days(by ship) or in hours(by plane, if available and conditions are favorable). This is surely a part of their appeal. But then you may need (advanced) medical care, or a replacement part for vital piece of technology, and the existing communication lines may turn out to be less reliable than they seemed.

Preventive measures/solutions: have solid means of communication, multiple if possible, and regular contact with neighbors you are friendly with. Have own medical facilities, even if they are meagerly equipped (qualified personnel is a bonus). Research the transportation means to your island, and be prepared for some loneliness (to account for possible personal issues of the submarine syndrome/cabin fever type).

Pirates

Pirates are almost as cool as… oh, wait. Piracy is a real phenomenon in these times, and can't be dismissed, especially where there are many islands with a lose influence of any country. If there is value, it can be expected someone will want a cut, whether it's criminals or tax collectors. Being on an island means you are isolated and a target.

Preventive measures/solutions: have means of defense and be prepared to use them. Have sufficient number of settlers.

Diseases

Many of the advertised and desired islands are in the tropics. While that has its charm, one has to be careful of exotic diseases. Living in a tropical environment also means a lot of vegetable waste that gathers up, that has to be dealt with or it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Preventive measures/solutions: research the diseases incidental in the area or climatic type. Also research insects and other nasties that can spoil a nice day, and more. Learn about precautions. Have them.

Economy

The good news is, you can start from the scratch. The bad news is, you will have to start from the scratch. It may take decades to create a semblance of civilization. (Of course, money tends to speed things up.)

Agriculture

Due to many practical considerations (minimize transports to outside to reduce costs, possibility of a blockade, initial export goods, …), the island has to be self-sufficient , at least to some degree.

According to some sources), it is possible to feed up to one thousand people per acre; note that it is highly advanced greenhouse growing of food with well-trained personnel and all the technology to back it up. Initial yields on a lonely island will be much lower.

Availability

Part of the appeal of micronations may come from the steady stream of offers for faraway exotic islands. You can buy them in many shapes and sizes, with a varying eligibility for the raising of a nation. One list may arise slowly here. The UMMOA (United Micronations Multi-Oceanic Archipelago) lists several islands with disputed claims.

A few useful criteria to choose your island by:

  • Large enough for agriculture to feed the inhabitants, and more.
  • Source of fresh water. Besides the obvious need for basic survival, flowing water can serve for small scale hydro electric power.
  • Mountain or very large hill. (For something to hide behind when a cyclone stops by). Plus, basements on islands may not work very well.
  • Close enough to civilization to get materials and parts. Far enough to avoid undesired attention for long enough.

If you have the money and/or the right technology, you can ignore some of the requirements, and choose any place, making everything you need. Any millionaires out there?

See also a checklist about buying private islands, from a website that actually sells them. Contains quite a few useful tips. There are other commercial websites that can feature useful information.

Note: radio amateurs like to travel even to the most abandoned of places. Their callsign will (in most places) indicate the country owning the location. They could be a source of easy recognition of claims, but also of more information, if they visited the island in question.

Artificial islands

But what if the existing supply of islands is not enough? After all, most, that are good for settling, are already, and the uninhabited ones are usually for a reason.

There are several ways to create an island. Easiest is to begin with an already shallow location - like atolls and reefs. It is possible to dredge the seabed and build a small island up with local materials, or import them from elsewhere. And so can the island be made into the desired height and size, but it may not be cheap (any sources on the price?). See also the first example and artificial sea structures for more ideas.

There are technologies to enhance the growth of corals. In the long term they can prove useful in growing the (potential) size of an island. They are compatible with some other ideas as well.

Legal status

Islands are recognized as a valid seat for a nation, other considerations still apply. Much depends on whether they are in international waters, or at least outside of the territorial waters of a state, claiming land inside of a state's influence tends to end badly. (See also the exclusive economic zone.) To various degrees, a state can exert control in these waters, and has total control of economic resources up to his continental shelf.

See also the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Examples

The Republic of Minerva was a group of reefs that were artificially brought above the water level, and proclaimed to be an independent state. However, Tonga made a claim over the Minerva Reefs on a conference of the neighboring states. It annexed the island later on, and defended it against further takeover attempts.

The Principality of of Freedonia planned to settle on one of the Pitcairn Islands, claiming the British government is not longer interested in running it. A businessman was proposing to buy it before, but was eventually turned down due to environmental protests.

(more examples and attempts)

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