hidden europe: European Microstates! Sealand for Sale!
Vatican City is the tiniest of the bunch. You can stride from one end of this theocratic state to the other in the time it takes to mumble two Hail Marys. In addition to those well known microstates, there are places like the Faroes, the Åland Islands and the Bailiwick of Guernsey which function to all intents and purposes as independent states while retaining a nominal political link to another entity. Then there are the places that aspire towards independence, but whose secessionist aspirations have not yet been internationally recognised: Abkhazia, Transdniestr and – certainly one to watch in the weeks ahead – Kosovo.
Oddest of the bunch is surely Sealand, an upstart self-styled principality on an abandoned sea fort in the North Sea. No-one really takes Sealand seriously, except for the retired British army officer who ‘occupied’ this unprepossessing lump of concrete in 1967. He and his family (all now royals of course) really assert Sealand’s right to independence, and in this fortieth anniversary year of Sealand life, devoted (or gullible) fans of Europe’s quirkiest polity can purchase souvenir mugs and T-shirts.
Last year life on the offshore statelet took a turn for the worse when a fire in a generator room destroyed what few home comforts Sealand ever possessed. Unsurprisingly, the Sealand Royal Family are minded to quit and return to the English mainland. So Sealand is up for sale. If you have 750 million euros to spare, now is the chance to splash out and buy your own (presumably slightly singed) statelet.