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The World's Tiniest Countries and the Eccentrics Who Rule Them

• http://www.wired.com

You're not alone.? Léo Delafontaine hadn't either until 2012, when he visited the Republic of Saugeais, a self-proclaimed micronation in eastern France. He's since become fascinated with "countries" unrecognized by world governments and organizations. His book Micronations? documents independent states that are just as varied and interesting as their official counterparts.

"Humankind likes discoveries and challenges. One solution is the creation of new countries, but not in order to persecute people or for religious reasons. The idea, rather, is to create new countries and territories for fun, to make people think, to re-enchant the world in a way," he says via email.

French writer and historian Bruno Fuligni, who wrote the introduction to Micronations, estimates there are more than 400 of these self-proclaimed entities.

Delfontaine visited 12 locations throughout the US, Europe, and Australia. They included monarchies, republics, "funny dictatorships," and some with no government at all. He earned citizenship in three—the Principality of Sealand, the Principality of Seborga, and the Conch Republic.

The Principality of Hutt River in Australia draws thousands of visitors annually, which is one reason it exists at all. Others serve as political satire. Conch Republic, for example, was created in 1982 after Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow "symbolically began the Conch Republic's Civil Rebellion by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform" according to the Conch Republic's website.

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