The knack How to start your own country

"The idea that you can go abroad, buy some land and start up your own country is, I'm afraid, a myth. Countries don't sell sovereignty outright. In the territory of any given country, you won't be legally allowed to declare your own independence, but as long as you continue to pay your taxes and obey the local laws, most countries won't make a fuss. So, go ahead and draw up your declaration papers - `The Kingdom/Republic of ... [this could simply be your own house] is pleased to announce etc, etc.' Although the government don't want you to know that such places exist, there are diplomatic offices to which you can send these - in America it's called `the Geographer of the United States'. Then you can make your own flags, stamps and passports. Selling these items can be a very profitable sideline. In Australia and the US, people have also sold patents of nobility, and charged for simple citizenship and for businesses who want to use their `country' as a tax-haven. By informing the media, they found themselves becoming tourist destinations.

Alternatively, like Paddy Roy Bates, you could find a loophole. His country, named Sealand, is an anti-aircraft tower in the Thames Estuary. The courts told officials who were trying to remove him that the matter had to be taken to the Foreign Office, which was uninterested in the whole affair." Interview by Fiona McClymont

Edwin S Strauss is author of `How to Start Your Own Country' ($12.95), published by Loompanics Unlimited, PO Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA 98368, US