Grand Duchy of Westarctica
|Grand Duchy of Westarctica
|Anthem: God Save Westarctica|
|Capital||Peter I Island|
|-||Declared||November 2, 2001|
|Purported currency||Westarctican Dollar|
The Grand Duchy of Westarctica is a micronation created by American Travis McHenry, which claims Marie Byrd Land. Westarctica was founded on a supposed loophole in the Antarctic Treaty. The claim of micronation status has been used as a basis to mint and sell coins to collectors. Westarctica is not recognised by the government of any country, despite its attempts.
The bulk of the micronation's claimed territory consists of Marie Byrd Land, defined as all land south of 60° S and between 90° W and 150° W. This is between the claim of Chile and the claim of New Zealand. The original capital was named Achilles. Later on, the Balleny Islands claimed by New Zealand and Peter I Island claimed by Norway were annexed. Peter I Island was declared the new capital of Westarctica.
On November 2, 2001, Travis McHenry decided to claim Marie Byrd Land as a country upon discovering that no country yet claimed it. However, this was because the Antarctic Treaty prevented any new claims on Antarctica by countries. To get around this, McHenry claimed the land as an individual and then founded a country, the Achaean Territory of Antarctica, upon it. He sent letters to the governments of Russia, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, the United States, and the United Kingdom to inform them of his claim. All of these countries ignored him.
In 2004, McHenry changed the name of his country to the Grand Duchy of Westarctica. The next year, he claimed the Balleny Islands and Peter I Island, which were already claimed by New Zealand and Norway, respectively. Grand Duke Travis abdicated in 2006 in favor of being Baron of Dunluce Castle. He was replaced as Grand Duke by Philip Karns.
In early 2008 health issues caused Philip Karns to cease his involvement in Westarctica. Since this time operations have moved from Westarctica.com to Westarctica.org. The current head of state is Jon-Lawrence Langer, the Duke of Moulton-Berlin. Langer has requested Westarcticans and Westarctica's allies in the micronational community aid in the project's revitalization.
On June 3, 2010 the founder of Westarctica, Travis McHenry removed Jon-Lawrence Langer as head of state after several micronational disputes and complaints. McHenry abolished the grand duchy and replaced it by the Protectorate of Westarctica. Together with these reforms Westarctica adopted a new flag, reduced the claim and joined the Antarctic Micronational Union. 
Westarctica has produced several coins, in the form of both wooden nickels and metal coins. They have also made stamps. Recently, Westarctica was featured in Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations. In 2010, Travis McHenry assumed the position of Grand Duke of Westarctica. In June 2010 negotiation began with the Antarctic Micronational Union (AMU)
- Antarctic Micronational Union (AMU) Website. A list of Antarctic Micronational Union members is available on this page. Note that all of these claimed micronations have founding dates much later than that of Westarctica, which is thought to be the first documented claim on Antarctic territory since the 1959 signing of the Antarctic Treaty, although the Kingdom of Talossa has claimed Marie Byrd Land since March of 1982.
- The Grand Duchy of Westarctica (West-Antarctica) Columbus Magazine. By Mariska van Brederode, June 2010
- Official website
- Micronations: Grand Duchy of Westarctica at The Unrecognised States Numismatic Society