To start a colony may be hard. As many have found out, to actually defend the idea, once others find out, is harder. What are the challenges on the way to a new micronation, or at least an independent existence? What are the ways?
Ways towards independence
- Allodial Title - gain property held (at least in theory) without further encumbrances or taxes
- Being ignored - a fine way towards freedom when there are so few other options; the authorities likely to challenge the fledgling state don't bother to do so. If this persists for long enough, a case may be made the settlers are the real, de facto owners, which is a start.
- Exploiting the rules - several micronations were created in places where international agreements or laws were unclear or in conflict… those glitches tend to be corrected over time. See also the Northwest Angle. Just don't pick a place where conflict is for a good reason, like for the Spratly Islands. For an actual example of someone trying it, see the Forvik Island
- Establish an embassy - according to international diplomatic tradition, the land on which the embassy sits and the buildings on it are considered to be your nation's sovereign territory (source). This still requires some recognition, which may be also gained by…
- Buying it - simply amass a sufficient amount of cash, and politicians are much more likely to cooperate. But it will cost some. (Note: corrupt dictators and politicians in general may be an easier target, but make any arrangements a bit uncertain.)
- Keep 'em busy - derail detrimental efforts of others by bureaucracy and other evil means; this may entail providing massive evidence of a claim, and let them try to sort it out in a few decades. The "work the system" option.
- Limited term contract - to persuade any country to give up a part of its lands would be… hard. A limited time period is more imaginable.
- Limited freedom contract - in exchange for, say, a certain fee, plus maybe a few general agreements, the people are left to do as they please. The main challenge is to keep the contract in effect and withstand all pressures to expand it. Word is several tropical states like Indonesia may offer up to a 99-year lease on their land with a fairly extensive sovereignty (link needed).
- Start legal - become a settlement officially under the control of some state, create the infrastructure and basic industries, amass the funds, install the defenses… and declare independence. May not be as easy once one entangles himself into the global networks.
- Hidden - as in the book/movie The Beach, where a small community has hidden itself away from the civilization. This would be a hard one to pull for a long period of time.
- Social project - as in the Freetown Christiania, where a group of idealists gained a semi-legal status and a measure of official acceptance. The emphasis seems to be on a distinct culture and lifestyle. It may be possible to try it elsewhere.
- Penal colony - in India, there are now prisons, where the prisoners are basically left for themselves, free to pursue their crafts and earn a living, merely not allowed to escape. There are also many movie examples (though mostly not pleasant). Still, it might be in theory possible to create a colony housing prisoners of a certain country, in exchange for non-intervention.
- Buffer zone - where there is conflict between two without end, a third party could claim control of a sensitive area - with the agreement of both. Required would be a great reputation, mastery of diplomacy, and it still may not work. But it is a theoretical option.
- Join the Commonwealth of Nations - the basic, today a bit looser precondition is to be a former British colony. There are other conditions, but easier to fulfill than the conditions for the UN, and it would offer much prestige and actual international recognition. Note also that it does not exercise or claim to have any sort of power over its members. See also a research society for that topic.
- Take over - there are quite a few internationally accepted small states out there. A group of enthusiasts could move into one, and essentially take it over, dictating or at least strongly influencing its politics.
- Ask for it - simply, ask for a piece of land for exactly this purpose. Pitch it as a great PR stunt, a social experiment/political model or something. It is of course extremely hard to convince modern governments to give up their land, so additional motivation is necessary. It could be care for desolate lands, claiming new or disputed territory for the 'sponsoring' country, or simply provoking their enemies (let's say a country allows 'American fugitives' the escape from that evil imperialism, etc, etc, etc).
- Settle into a country with low standards, and slowly work your way through a civil war up to declaring independence. Very risky, and taking possibly decades, but some may try it.
- An alternative route some people choose is to be a 'perpetual traveller', that arranges his or her paperwork in such a way that all governments consider him a tourist, paying little to no taxes, and living mostly unhindered. As an individual strategy, this is way outside of the topic of this website, but provides inspiration, and even possible investment/supporters. There could be entire groups living this life. They may also have valuable information on registration, citizenship, and other interesting questions. Note also a website from an expert on disappearing.
- Research station - access is limited to many exotic places. But if one were to, say, form into an alternative ecological movement, then one could probably easily move into such a place, researching while creating a viable settlement. Especially for those with strict ecological preferences, the challenge to keep up the nature-oriented face may be easy.
- Foundation - some states don't tax foundations/non-profit organizations, and may be more lax in their treatment, if some noble purpose is proven (may go with the previous option, and provide a springboard to many others).
- Get a valley - recent history shows that remote rocky, close to an international border areas can be held by a handful of people. Usually they benefit from clear water (from which you can draw electricity) and you can grow goats or even sheep for food. A simpler way could be to buy some land in a remote area no one is interested in. There are numerous little valleys, even in the Alps or the Pyrenees, which are not suitable for ski resorts and are used only for pasture.(Source.)
- Incorporate: having all the rights of a corporation, it could raise the funds by selling stock or supplying other services to its 'citizens' and others. With enough money, it could realize the dream of an own island or other area as an amusement park or exotic holiday resort. The company might profit from being registered in some exotic location.(source)
- Dependent nation status - enjoyed by Sovereign Indian Nations in the US, with important marks of sovereignty… though it could be extremely hard to achieve this status nowadays. Good luck.
- WSLEs, or Weakly State-Like Entities, introduced here, are parastate entities intended to be temporary, not out for a direct military confrontation. They still intend to have their sovereignty.
- Fight - yes, wait for your challenge, and win the battle(s). While straightforward, there are obvious problems with this approach. On the other hand, it may be necessary with other options, too. See also Right of Conquest.
Marks of a nation
What are the necessary criteria to be internationally recognized as a country? (See source.)
- a defined territory
- a permanent population
- a government
- government must be capable of interacting with other states (standards are somewhat unclear on this, but it is necessary by all accounts)
- declare independence - is reported to have certain benefits, even if not recognized by anyone
- get recognized - possibly the hardest of them all, most countries won't recognize a small wannabee nation, unless there is something in it for them
- join the club - should you actually want to join the United Nations. The application is trivial, but the General Assembly must determine by a two-thirds majority that you are a “peace-loving state” that can carry out the duties of the U.N. Charter. This requires serious work in the previous step.
To live free, you don't need all these things. Real independence may be far from the declared one. Choose what goals you will aim for.