If you haven’t heard already, Let’s Buy an Island is a unique project to create a ‘micronation’ through crowdfunded investment. Adventurous bidders have been getting together to establish the principality of ‘Islandia’, looking for a suitable piece of land to purchase. But has anything like this been tried before?
Way back in 2005, British comedian and writer and Daniel Wallace similarly tried to create his own nation, being part of a BBC documentary called “How to Start Your Own Country”. Entitling his country “the Kingdom of Lovely” – even though he didn’t have a real territory – at its height Lovely would boast a population of over 50,000 citizens. He would engage in a number of hilarious exploits in order to get his nation recognized. Just what did he get up to? Let’s find out.
After visiting the micronation of Sealand in the North Sea for some inspiration, Wallace began his country with a resort to a 19th-century method – that’s right, annexation! In the first episode of the series, Wallace hired a Tesco security guard and attempted to annex Eel Pie Island on the River Thames in London. He cordoned off the island and announced it was “being invaded” and had the guard deny people access. It didn’t work; inevitably, some people got enraged and soon a higher power – that is, the local police – ‘liberated’ the territory. Quite quickly, it was back to the drawing board for Daniel.
Finding a proper territory proved too difficult for him. To purchase an island was expensive and obviously annexation held legal consequences. So next, he simply decided to designate his bedroom in his East London as the territory. He created a membership scheme for it where everyone could pay up to become a citizen, similarly designating their bedroom as an ‘Embassy of Lovely’. Now it was time to get international recognition.
Wallace made a serious appeal to the United Kingdom government for aid. He even met with a minister of international development. Not surprisingly,they weren’t very happy at his proposal and said he couldn’t be taken seriously because he didn’t even have a real territory. After this failed, he then recorded his own song, entitled “stop the mugging and start the hugging” and applied to join the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. It was, inevitably, rejected. Attempts to join the United Nations would also be thwarted.
Yet in the end, this didn’t discourage him. He set up his own broadcasting channel called ‘Citizen TV’ and even created his own mock currency. Throughout 2005 to 2006, the project was successful and he gained a lot of new citizens, boasting that he was recognised by more than seven countries in the world, including the Vatican and Liechtenstein. However, in the long run, the nation of Lovely would fall. Its website was deactivated and that was that!
But for Islandia, the fun is just beginning. It isn’t just a comedic gimmick for a TV show; it’s a real attempt to invest in an island and to create a micronation which will have a permanent place on the map! You can either buy citizenship for $20, or even invest yourself! Are you up to the challenge of starting your own country?