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Suppose I wanted to form a new sovereign state right now, can I still be able to do it? I can find people to run the government, make laws, build roads, erect commercial and residential buildings and most importantly say I got connections in UN club and many leaders are willing to recognise my new country. Is there any place left on the planet for me to construct my country? I'll hire mercenary to defend my border. Comment below if I leave out any crucial details and feel free to correct my English. Currently in process of designing my own flag...

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  • $\begingroup$ For location there is the option of either buying an island or something outside territorial waters, like the Principality of Sealand although there legal issues with that according to wikipedia. $\endgroup$ – moran Aug 27 '15 at 5:40
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    $\begingroup$ When you find this place call me.I'll bring booze and looped ropes for when the booze runs out $\endgroup$ – Ojonugwa Jude Ochalifu Aug 28 '15 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ @ojonugwaochalifu booze is fine but the ropes? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 28 '15 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ Lol.Don't overthink it. $\endgroup$ – Ojonugwa Jude Ochalifu Aug 28 '15 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ Another contemporary example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Freedonia $\endgroup$ – Travis Christian Aug 28 '15 at 17:22

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There are in fact areas in the world not claimed by any country. The area of Bir Tawil in Africa is between Sudan and Egypt and neither country wants it.

2,060 km² of landlocked desert in the middle of nowhere with no roads, no rivers and no known natural resources. But at least it is unpopulated, so you won't have problems with indigenous population.

enter image description here

Why does neither want that area? Because they can't agree on where the border between their countries is. Egypt claims the border is a straight east-west line while Sudan claims the border is the zigzag line you see above. Both countries want control of the much more valuable Hala'ib Triangle with the city of Hala'ib. Claiming control of Bir Tawil would mean to accept the border proposed by the other side and giving up their claim on Hala'ib. So should you settle in Bir Tawil and form your own nation, no side will interfere with you.

...at first. Should the question of the Hala'ib Triangle ever get resolved, the "losing" side will have no reason to not claim Bir Tawil and will likely try to evict you. Also, when you are really successful in building your nation, it might get more valuable than Hala'ib and both countries will start to argue about Bir Tawil instead. And no matter which side wins, you will lose.

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    $\begingroup$ Neither country claims it, but they each claim that the other is entitled to it. Couldn't they continue that stance and take military or policing action there by agreement, if they wanted to? Each side would say they were invited on to foreign territory. $\endgroup$ – bdsl Aug 27 '15 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ This answer doesn't seem to account for the UN recognition the asker supposedly already has. Given this scenario, I imagine once the control of Hala'ib is settled the UN would interfere in any military action either state takes in Bir Tawil, so the resolution would be far more complicated I'm sure. Then again, I'm no diplomat. $\endgroup$ – talrnu Aug 27 '15 at 13:12
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Being Czech sometimes helps answering these questions:

You can do it. Just follow Czechoslovakia example: 1st January of 1993, Czechoslovakia was no more. Two new sovereign nations came to life: Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Have a country which is actually built by more nationalities, or from more logical parts. Examples: USA, Switzerland, Great Britain
  2. Form a federation from these parts. They share president, but local governments are partly independent
  3. Make politicians talk about the split
  4. Alternatively, you can let people vote about the split
  5. Make politicians and/or people agree on the split
  6. Split everything. Currencies, debts, land, people
  7. You have two sovereign republics now.

Both Czech Republic and Slovakia are recognized by UN. Both countries are in European Union. Because both agreed on Schengen treaty, the borders are now just on the paper.

And once Czech republic adopts monetary agreement, both countries will use the same currency again.

Of course, by following this example, no new land was taken. Although we could say that both Czech and Slovak republic were "new" on map, they made agreements on how to split historical duties.

And after that, even the domain was gone ...

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    $\begingroup$ How to make a small fortune? Start with a big one. $\endgroup$ – his Aug 27 '15 at 8:20
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    $\begingroup$ Being French, there is another solution : revolution! 1. Take any country whose population is unhappy ; 2. make a shady coalition with other rich people who think they should have more political power than what they already have ; 3. finance newspapers (and nowadays, NGO too) to wage propaganda against the system to gain popular support ; 4. use the population to overthrow the government while you lead them from afar ; 5. profit!!!! (and 6. try to stay alive with all the new enemies you have earned ^^... protip: ensure you have nuclear weapons available). $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Aug 27 '15 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Shautieh A revolution can fail. The southern US states' disagreement with growing opposition to slavery in the US Congress led to a failed revolution in the first half of the 1860s. $\endgroup$ – Damian Yerrick Aug 27 '15 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ @tepples right, but the same could be said from Czechoslovakia: similar examples in the past failed... $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Aug 28 '15 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thats why I offered Czechoslovakia example. It makes me happy that we (as nation) managed to do this without wars or revolutions $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 28 '15 at 14:21
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You probably won't get any recognition assured before you get to choose the place.

For example, the creation of Israel was well accepted by the main powers of the time, but the local countries were, to say the least, a bit reluctant. We are now almost 70 years later, and the problem isn't completely fixed.

You can see the struggles of "countries", who, for historical (e.g. Taiwan) or ethnic (e.g. Kosovo) reasons wanted to secede from their former countries. But in the corresponding wikipedia articles, you can see how that isn't so easy.

If you want to create some country from nothing, you need some land. And most of the land on the Earth belong to some country already. In fact, apart from possible small rocks in the middle of the ocean (and even not all of those), the only remaining free land is Antartica. Which, incidently isn't a great place to start a new country: getting the economy running is going to be tough. And you'll probably end-up alone. Plus there are some international treaties preventing an actual possession of the land there. Buying a piece of land in a country isn't enough, you'd be in conflict with that country.

I cannot think of any example now, except to some extend Israel, but see the previous note. You could probably buy some land in a failed country, or a country with a dictator willing to sell away some part of his country, or even the whole.

Yet the easiest, would probably to follow the example of Sealand. You could build yourself a large floating city in international sea. And if you got the support you claim, you could make it into an independent city. That would be a strange experiment, but it would require a lot of political support, and probably good funding to get started. There are already projects of floating cities. You could get one, and with your political support have it placed in international seas and get recognised.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that the creation of Israel was even more fun - many Jews didn't support it either. It was just one options out of many, and a lot of people didn't think it was fair or safe. In the end, the radical option won out, but it was rather extreme, and they are still fighting to this day (so the naysayers have been right). And Israel went far belong the terms in the original treaty, relying on their military power - which shows you how important is to have a strong backer, and a strong military. If you can get the US behind you, claim a land in the middle of France and you're fine :D $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 28 '15 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ The creation of Israel was a very complex thing. I simplified a bit above, of course. Nevertheless to follow your plan you need a big backup AND some people to import to the place. Or you need to choose an almost deserted part of France. It's going to look pretty bad if your first action is to kill everyone whithin it, especially if you're only a few people. Hand-made bombs or black market, could still kill the few of you. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Aug 28 '15 at 9:00
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All the good land on Earth is taken, so you have to create your own. Build an artificial island like the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai:

enter image description here

The technology to create islands by piling up sands in shallow seas doesn't exist for long. So far it was only used in waters very close to natural shores, so it was quite obvious that they were the territory of the closest nation. But there is no precedent yet for a private person creating one in international waters.

International waters start outside the contiguous zone which is 24 nautic miles away from the shore. To be save from any reasonable claims, you should go far enough away from the coast to be out of the exclusive economic zone which ends at 200 nautic miles. To be completely sure that nobody finds any reason for conflict with you, you can even go to 400 miles, so your economic zone will not intersect that of any other country.

When you import the soil from the mainland, the nation you take it from might claim that because you used their soil, your island is their territory. So to be safe from that claim, scoop up dirt from the ocean floor.

Unfortunately the international waters are usually very deep, so getting enough soil piled up to create a mountain which reaches above the water surface will be a quite challenging project. The guys at earth science stackexchange might be able to suggest you a place where the water isn't too deep but still far enough from the nearest natural land.

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  • $\begingroup$ Before someone comments that Sealand tried this and failed: Note that Sealand is1. just 7.5 miles away from the coast, so still inside the territorial sea of United Kingdom and 2. originally built by the British government. So the United Kingdom has quite good reason to claim it. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Aug 27 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ Currently, there is a black market for sand so other materials are being dumped in the ocean while sand is being sucked out of it. $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Aug 27 '15 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ This is no longer possible because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in force since 1994 states "Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf." $\endgroup$ – idmean Aug 28 '15 at 17:03
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Create new land

Volcanoes occasionally create new islands. Loihi Seamount is an example of this. It's an underwater volcano south-east of Hawaii. Being close to Hawaii, when it emerges from the sea, it will of course become US soil.

Imagine a new volcano in international waters. Who would claim it? Such a situation has not occurred in living memory. It would be a scramble.

Assume you were able to get there first with a small army and plenty of equipment. You could perhaps defend it against established nations and other privateers. If you have enough military clout, and something to trade, you might perhaps forge alliances and eventually become recognised by the UN as an independent nation.

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    $\begingroup$ If the ocean is shallow enough at the desired location, a man-made artificial island is also a possibility. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB Aug 27 '15 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, there is a list of micro-nations on wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_micronations $\endgroup$ – superluminary Aug 27 '15 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ Build the island here so the ocean currents hold it in place and every tsunami brings you new building materials. $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Aug 27 '15 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ So this is why supervillians have volcano island fortresses. $\endgroup$ – evankh Aug 28 '15 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ nastybrutishshort.blogspot.com/2006/12/… $\endgroup$ – EvilTeach Aug 29 '15 at 15:29
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A group you may have heard of called ISIS has attempted to do so in the former territories of Syria and Iraq. This illustrates some of the principles and pitfalls of creating a new nation.

First, you have to actually secure some territory. Most of the Earth's territory has already been claimed by someone, so the first thing you need to do is have the ability to establish your own, stronger claim. Being in physical possession and able to stop all comers from taking the land you claim is vitally important. This requires hard power, the type you get with guns and manpower.

Then you need to have the people in "your" territory agree to be ruled by you. Sometimes the people might not agree, but if you have enough hard power to establish yourself in the first place, then you also have the means of making people see things your way.

Next, you need to have working institutions inside your territory to actually run and administer things. A system of laws, courts to enforce the laws and a well defined system of governance are important, otherwise you are just a failed state like Somalia (where a warlord might only be in charge of the area he can physically control, and is constantly under challenge from other warlords). People crave stability to run their lives and business, so your laws and institutions might not be very much like the ones we understand in the West, but so long as they are generally recognized, enforced and followed, then you are a functioning State.

Finally, in today's world, you also need to be recognized by other nations. This is important since being part of the "club" provides lots of benefits like being able to engage in trade and commerce on a large scale (ISIS can engage in criminal smuggling of oil, but the vast majority of it's "citizens" live from hand to mouth because they have no legitimate outlets for their goods and services).

So would be Genghis Khans have a lot of work ahead of them, most of it starting after you gain control of the land.

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    $\begingroup$ "being part of the "club" provides lots of benefits like being able to engage in trade and commerce " – Not only that, but being recognized by other countries/nations/states as a country/nation/state is what makes you a country/nation/state in the first place. See for example Liechtenstein, which is financially and economically a part of Switzerland, yet perfectly recognized, as opposed to Taiwan, which is for all intents and purposes an independent country with borders, army, navy, air force, government, economy, currency, yet isn't recognized. And let's not even start with Palestine. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Aug 28 '15 at 7:34
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Very difficult: expect strong opposition from nearby countries. Look how hard Britain fought to stop Sealand (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Sealand) from becoming a tax haven. Maybe build a new floating island nowhere near another country?

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  • $\begingroup$ But they might not have a problem if you don't allow it to become a tax haven? $\endgroup$ – colmde Aug 27 '15 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Build the floating island here so that the ocean currents hold it in place. $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Aug 27 '15 at 23:26
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One possibility would be to buy an island and declare it as your country, but it would be difficult to join UN etc.

The other possibility could be creating a situation like south Sudan to separate a part of Country from the native country, either using religion race or ethnicity as a reason. This would mean you should do your best to make a split between the people in different parts of a country. And if UN (or at least some democratic countries) see that "your people" are discriminated or humiliated or suppressed somehow they will react and maybe this way you could create a new country. A good help would be if the native country was ruled by a dictator or a regime that already suppress (at least parts of) his/its population. You should try to stay before and during the splitting process in the news of democratic countries!

The only difficulty could be if you want also to be the leader of the new country as if the country will be created by a split after a kind of revolt it's hard to know whom will be at the top of it, so you might need some kind of facilitators who are 100% behind you and your own military forces (as you mentioned) so you should prepare all of this very well.

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Grab a bunch of people, go live in isolation, choose an aquatic environment, evolve into a new species until you develop gills, then move to the Ocean, find somewhere deep enough, far enough from territorial waters, found your new country.

The only problem is, your flag deep in water may not wave; besides, with little light it won't matter if it's got any design or it's just black. Perhaps you have to give up on your country flag? You don't want a detail to jeopardize your dream.

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    $\begingroup$ That might take some time then... $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Aug 27 '15 at 19:33
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If the ancient laws are still respected, the first person to reach a newly formed island (obviously volcanic) not in territorial waters would be able to claim it for his nation. If that person were to be a stateless person, he would be then able to claim it for himself.

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As the recent examples of Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic (and before that South Ossetia and South Sudan and Abkhazia and Kosovo and Transnistria and Vatican and...) show, it is possible, if you get enough followers, some weapons, support from someone strong and a weak government whose territory you want to base your country at. It will be a bit difficult with the international recognition, but if you persevere, eventually you'll get a full featured country.

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The world is a savage place. You can make a new country only if you have the means to defend it against invading nations. If you don't then it is all about if the other countries, not you, want the country to exist.

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