(Welcome to Barrystan!)
In case it slipped by you, during our latest six-month-long Black Friday sales event, 22 November was Start Your Own Country Day. If you missed your chance, be sure to set a reminder for next year on your new iPhoneXXVI, a sensibly priced device which is actually larger than some nations.
According to the internet, Start Your Own Country Day began in 1939, at the World’s Fair in New York City. (Some refer to the day as National Start Your Own Country Day, but lobbing in the “National” part seems to kind of kill the buzz, doesn’t it?)
Speaking of the internet, a quick Google search for “Start Your Own Country Day” returned over 39 million results, and only 38 million of them thought the event was a direct result of Donald Trump’s election.
As it turns out, there are published rules…well, guidelines…that define the minimum requirements for being a nation. The 1933 Convention on Rights and Duties of States lays out the qualifications. To be a proper country, you must have
- A permanent population
- A defined territory
- A government with the capacity to enter into relations with other States
- A clueless, self-entitled rat bag of politicians who can’t seem to keep their pants on
Obviously, to acquire a “permanent population,” you have to either invite people, or kidnap them. Alternatively, you could just invade an existing country that already has people in it, which solves both items 1 and 2 on the checklist. Every country I can think of already has people in it, except Paris in August.
Interestingly, there is no requirement to create your own currency. Maybe, given the state of the US economy in 1933, the Convention’s authors were counting on something more stable, like Enron stock.
Nobody mentioned the need for an army, either. And maybe that’s the way to go. After all, as we learned from Barack Obama and his crackerjack cadre of diplomats, John Kerry and James Taylor, the way to manage places like North Korea and Iran is to set up more after-school play dates.
So I’m seriously thinking of starting my own country, if I can come up with an interesting flag. I could just poke a hole in my business card and run it up the flagpole, but I was too cheap to have anything printed on the back.
And I’m hardly the first disgruntled citizen of Earth to form his own country and try to get, um, regruntled. In 1970, some guy named Prince Leonard seceded from Australia and founded the Principality of Hutt River, in an area north of Perth that is a lot like the surface of Mars, except more desolate, and Mars has better internet service.
Six years later, Austrian artist Edwin Lipburger seceded from Vienna and formed the Republic of Kugelmugel, a name he made up because “Walla Walla” was already taken. Lipburger had become gruntle-challenged because he couldn’t get building permits to construct a spherical house, which he built anyway, because he’d already coined the word Kugelmugel. He eventually went to prison for not paying taxes, and Viennese authorities moved his round home to an amusement park that’s actually named Wiener Prater, which is the only way this story could possibly end.
And about forty years ago, right here in America, a guy named Kevin founded the Republic of Molossia in Nevada, shortly after seceding from Portland, Oregon. (According to the Republic’s website, the Portland kingdom didn’t work out because a top-ranking member of the new government changed schools.)
Though tiny as nations go (the entire Republic is under twelve acres), Molossia boasts their own national bird (Just the one bird. It’s a quail). They issue their own postage stamps (not valid in the United States or various other places, like Earth), and the Molossian Bureau of Weights & Measures created their own measurement system, which replaces vague concepts like feet, pounds, and temperatures with more rigidly accurate units: the Norton, the Fenwick, and the Zenda.
Here are some helpful conversions that will come in handy when you visit Molossia:
- One Norton equals seven inches (or, put more scientifically, the length of the Molossian President’s hand)
- One Imperial Norton equals 0.62 miles (no useful references to Presidential body parts)
- In Molossia, water freezes at 0 degrees Zenda
- One Fenwick equals two pounds (or, as their “measurements” web page points out, about as heavy as one large tube of Pillsbury Cookie Dough, and I am not good enough to make this stuff up)
By the way…before you pack up the kids and head for Molossia: you are required to call ahead, and you’ll be responsible for your own sleeping accommodations. (After all, Molossia is very remote … why, it’s almost forty-eight Imperial Nortons to the nearest airport!)
Although the country is proud of its good relations with other global powers (Hydrovia, Ourania, and the Principality of Venus, just to name a few), Molossia has allegedly been at war with East Germany for over 34 years. Fortunately, however, casualties have been minimal, given that East Germany is over 10,000 Imperial Nortons away. Besides, the Molossian Air Force is critically under-funded. (see “quail”)
Historical Sidebar: according to an anonymous Molossian historian, “We tried having an Army, but the US Olympic Committee used it against us.”
Editorial Sidebar: we’re pretty sure that’s the funniest sentence ever spoken.
On the other hand, Molossia has its own navy, which is pretty impressive for a country that’s barely twenty Nortons wide.
So, the next time East German U-boats infiltrate Lake Mead…