How do I start my own country?

Those jerks that pushed you around in high school left a lasting impression. After lengthy consideration, you've decided your best recourse for revenge is to found your own nation. You, of course, will be president. Jim and Terry, your best friends, are obvious choices for Secretary of State and Defense, respectively. And the jerks from high school -- their names will be at the top of your new nation's terrorism watch list. They will be arrested and held without due process the moment they set foot on your sovereign soil. It's going to be perfect.

To establish your new nation, you considered taking over your native country by force. You spent some time in the jungle highlands of Colombia alongside Marxist rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) learning guerilla tactics and studying the revolutionary concepts of Che Guevara. You developed a wonderful beard, which you plan to keep, but learned that you don't have the stomach for bloody coups. You considered running for political office. But your unpleasant personality and inability to make eye contact with strangers make you a losing candidate.


And then you met the Roma. These seminomadic, disenfranchised people were used as political scapegoats by your government one time too many. They're not the first group to be the butt of the political process. Ethnic Albanians living in Serbia experienced violence and degradation at the hands of the ruling Serbs for nearly a century before declaring independence in February 2008 [source: Hoare].

Being underprivileged, the Roma in your region were just ticked off enough to listen to your spiel about starting a new country. And they bought it. The land they're squatting on has arable tracts, trees, hills to the west and natural springs. All in all, the Romas' area covers about 12 square miles (about 19 km). After your promise to name the new country Romalia, the Roma are in. They're your new, permanent citizens.

It's here that getting your nascent country underway really begins.


Making All the Right Moves toward Nationhood

The United States recognized the independent nation of Kosovo the day following its declaration of independence. This gave the nation both security and legitimacy.
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There are several ways new countries can be founded. A larger nation can colonize a smaller one and change the name, like the British did with Rhodesia. The opposite can take place; a colony can rebel against its colonial masters, like the Zimbabweans did against Britain. Another possibly less bloody method is to purchase an uninhabited island and secede from whatever nation owns it. Owning land offers more legitimacy to the movement, and since no one was living on the island, the new nation may see less resistance from the government it formerly belonged to. You, however, choose the land-based secessionist route, and this version of nation founding can require the most finesse.

History shows this can be one of the bloodier methods of secession. Yugoslavia began to splinter after the death of its premier Josip Broz Tito, which led to war and genocide. The fall of the Soviet Union generated secession among former Soviet states, and Russia still wars with some of its breakaway nations, such as Georgia and Chechnya.


Like these other splinter states, your country Romalia's already on the path to statehood. You have a population, government and land, the three generally accepted criteria for nationhood [source: Foreign Policy]. Next, a declaration of independence should be written and submitted to your former government. It will likely be surprised by this announcement. This surprise may be quickly followed by anger once the federal government realizes you're serious.

Luckily, Romalia is protected by the United Nations rules concerning unprovoked attack and invasion [source: Foreign Policy]. Since you've established Romalia by the book, other governments' tanks can't simply roll in. These rules kept Kosovo and Montenegro from being invaded by Serbia in 2008 and 2006, respectively.

Finding allies who either want the natural resources found in your nation, commiserate with your plight or both is also helpful. If your Roma population has a homeland featuring a government run by their people, contacting this nation would be a good move. Not only could it potentially provide military support, the government could also provide official recognition.

Being internationally recognized as independent by other nations legitimizes a state. You'll be sad to find that international politics is similar to the high school social strata that got you here in the first place. Hanging out with the most popular or toughest nations gives your country immediate credibility. Those states deemed unimportant are left to fend for themselves. They may be harassed by bully states and forced to trade with neutral countries like Denmark.

Romalia can be left to languish if it doesn't enter the world stage. The best way to achieve this is through membership in the United Nations. Applying for membership is surprisingly easy; getting in can be a chore. To apply, a country simply has to write a short letter asking for acceptance to the U.N.'s Secretary General [source: Foreign Policy]. Member nations can easily block acceptance by vetoing your membership. It's best to try to remain friendly with as many nations as possible to increase the likelihood of being accepted as a member.

Remember to instruct your Secretary of State, Jim, to print currency for Romalia. Be sure to back it with something; the Republic of Molassia in Nevada backs its currency with chocolate chip cookie dough [source: Chicago Tribune]. To attract foreign investment, you may want to back your currency with something more substantial (like a precious mineral). With foreign cash, you can build an infrastructure and amass an army. Those jerks from high school are never going to know what hit them.


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More Great Links

  • Hoare, Marko Attila. "Kosovo: the Balkans' last independent state." Open Democracy. February 12, 2007.
  • Keating, Joshua. "How to start your own country in four easy steps." Foreign Policy. February 2008.
  • Mastony, Colleen. "One nation, under me." Chicago Tribune. July 3, 2008.,0,3641303.story
  • Neild, Barry. "Shortcuts: starting your own country." CNN. September 27, 2006.
  • "President Bush discusses Kosovo." Office of the White House Press Secretary. February 19, 2008.
  • "Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC." Global Security.