Micronations — sometimes also referred to as fantasy countries, model countries, and new country projects — are entities that resemble independent nations or states but which are unrecognized by world governments or major international organizations. These nations usually exist only on paper, on the Internet, or in the minds of their creators. Micronations differ from secession and self-determination movements in that they are largely viewed as being eccentric and ephemeral in nature, and are often created and maintained by a single person or family group.
Some micronations have managed to extend some of their operations into the physical world by issuing coins, flags, postage stamps, passports, medals and other items. Such trappings of "real" sovereign states are created as a way of seeking to legitimize the micronations that produce them.
The term "micronation" dates at least to the 1970s (see The People's Almanac #2, page 330) to describe the many thousands of small, unrecognized, state-like entities that had arisen at that time. The term has since also come to be used retroactively to refer to earlier ephemeral unrecognized entities, some of which date as far back as the early 19th century.
Ladonia (Swedish: Ladonien) is a micronation, proclaimed in 1996 as the result of a years-long court battle between artist Lars Vilks and local authorities over two sculptures. The claimed territory is part of the natural reserve Kullaberg in an enclave of southern Sweden.
Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1819 – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial MajestyEmperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco, California who proclaimed himself "Emperor of these United States" and, in 1859, "Protector of Mexico." Born in London, Norton spent most of his early life in South Africa; he emigrated to San Francisco in 1849 after receiving a bequest of $40,000 from his father's estate. Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune investing in Peruvianrice. After losing a lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, Norton left San Francisco. He returned a few years later, apparently mentally unbalanced, claiming to be the emperor of the United States. Although he had no political power, and his influence extended only so far as he was humored by those around him, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments he frequented. Though he was considered insane, or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his regal presence and his proclamations, most famously, his "order" that the United States Congress be dissolved by force (which Congress and the U.S. Army ignored) and his numerous decrees calling for a bridge and a tunnel to be built across San Francisco Bay. On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed at a street corner, and died before he could be given medical treatment. The following day, nearly 30,000 people packed the streets of San Francisco to pay homage to Norton. Norton's legacy has been immortalized in the literature of writers Mark Twain, and Robert Louis Stevenson who based characters on him. In December 2004, a resolution was made to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in honor of Norton, but the idea did not progress further.