I know the basic steps involved in creating your own country:

  1. Own sovereign, undisputed land (that, if in the ocean, is 200 nautical miles away from the nearest sovereign nation).
  2. Possess a permanent population.
  3. Have a government system in place.

Once a country has all of the above, to gain admission into the UN, the procedure is as follows: enter image description here (from the UN's website)

Now assume Joe is an average white American citizen who has attended college and earns 50,000 USD annually. In addition to his salary, he has 100,000 USD in his bank account. He has no family and is prepared to spend any time, effort, and/or money needed to create a country (most likely a micro-state) that is recognized by the UN and becomes a member of it in the least amount of time possible.

So far, I've been able to put together that:

His first move should be purchasing or building a remote island in the deep midst of the Pacific, where he is far from any other sovereign country. If he convinces some low wage workers to come with him and stay on the island, he has a permanent population and sovereign territory. Once he sets up some sort of small government, he fulfills all three of the basic criteria for being considered a country. However, this is where I run into a problem: would the UN really accept a country with a population of 5 or 6 people and a very primitive government (and is there even a possible island that is far enough from other countries)?

Is there a better way to be recognized by the UN than what I've mentioned above (and I'm fairly sure there is) or is my plan the best possible one?
(In your answers, please begin from where Joe is in America, describing each step. Use specifics. What island should he buy? How much will it cost? How can he convince people to live there? etc.)

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ @Ovi I'm pretty sure trying to turn a space colony into an independent, sovereign nation would technically be in violation of at least one international treaty. $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2016 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ If there exists someone who's a recognized authority from which you can buy an island, then by definition that island is claimed by some sovereign nation already; and buying only gets you land within that sovereignity, not revoking claims by that country to that land, and the related fishing rights and economic zone in the sea around that island. $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Nov 14, 2016 at 0:12
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @Ovi, Easy and space arent often said in the same sentence. Unless our average Joe gets a pay raise, or is secretly Elon Musk, he does not stand a chance in space. $\endgroup$
    – 10 Replies
    Nov 14, 2016 at 2:49
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I agree with Zxyrra that joining an already alienated or separate group and agitating for secession would be the best strategy. Pitcairn Islands would be a good candidate because it has a small population, is remote, and is not particularly strategically important, so it is conceivable that the British could relinquish control. The Pitcairn Island government are encouraging migrants to move there, which would make things easier. $\endgroup$
    – Xavier
    Nov 14, 2016 at 3:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Cost is going to be a serious issue. UN membership isn't cheap. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Nov 14, 2016 at 3:51

16 Answers 16


Average Joe cannot create a state that becomes a UN member.

All habitable places on Earth are inhabited and claimed by at least one (usually exactly one) country, so a new nation in an uninhabited place is out of the question without major effort that is way out of reach for average Joe (big floating city on the ocean, space colony, etc.).

That leaves secession, either by military force or by peaceful means. There are several places where people have recently tried and failed, with a long-term effort involving many people:

  • Scotland arguably came closest. It had a referendum where 45% voted for secession and the UK agreed beforehand to respect the result. With the UK accepting, perhaps the other UNSC members would have accepted UN membership.
  • South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus, Kosovo, Palestine, Taiwan, Abkhazia, and Western Sahara, are all de facto independent states (with varying amounts of control) who have failed to get UN recognition. All are opposed by a more powerful government claiming sovereignty over their territory, and in all cases the more powerful government has allies in the UNSC.
  • The government in Catalunya has announced they will declare independence. Spain has declared they will block this. I doubt five UNSC members will go against Spain if they are not willing to go against Morocco, Serbia, or Georgia.

Considering that all of those fails, there is no way Avarage Joe can succeed. To get passed the UNSC, you would need to get USA, UK, France, Russia, and China to agree on something. That is hard.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ There are a few bits of habitable land currently unclaimed by any countries; the bits "between" Croatia and Serbia look most promising. In particular, see this article on "Liberland", although I accept the practical point that Croatia is exercising de facto control over the area. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2016 at 12:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @PhilipKendall The only part large enough to be a country would be Bir Tawil, and whether that is habitable for average Joe is debatable. There and elsewhere, it's likely a matter of time until neighbouring countries settle the border and when that happens, they're certainly not going to care about some idealists who believe they have the right to start a utopia there. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Vatican City is 0.44 km^2 and Monaco is 2 km^2, but both of those are very definitely countries, so I don't see why Liberland with claimed borders of 7 km^2 is ruled out. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2016 at 14:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PhilipKendall If Average Joe can convince 40,000 millionaires to settle in Liberland, then perhaps there is a tiny chance. I see no way how Average Joe could possibly do so. Vatican is not a UN member and has a unique history. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DanielMcLaury Whether a million average Joes together can do something is a very different question than whether one average Joe can do something. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 15, 2016 at 19:58

Forming a microstate is not a fast process, but some methods are faster than others. Consider this:


First, Joe moves to Estonia, learns the language, and settles in the Setomaa region. That way, there is a population, there are some government systems in place, and he doesn't need to ship in materials. It is also easier to convince the locals to make a change in government than it is to convince a population to move to a remote island without food, shelter etc.

enter image description here

Once Joe arrives, he should get involved with Estonia's political system. Setomaa, where he now lives, is mostly within Estonia, but it has a specific, defining culture. Joe, if he is persuasive, needs to convince the Setos people to fight for recognition as a sovereign nation. Considering how politicians in places like America can captivate the population, all he has to do is usurp the peace a little bit, and watch as political changes ensue.

Next, Joe the Usurper will say that he powered the change, and hope for his people's consideration. While this is not entirely realistic, he could also run for election if the new nation is a democracy. Voila! All three basics fulfilled - and the nation is on the border of a country with UN representation, which just allowed this nation to develop - so expect recognition to come easy.

Pros and Cons

Let's start with cons:

  • Convincing a population to revolt is hard
  • Getting elected democratically is hard
  • There is an existing culture - there is no means for Joe to determine some things about this country, such as prominent religion, customs etc.
  • There is a language barrier
  • This isn't exactly fast (but realism may inevitably take a while)
  • The Red Dawn Defense isn't exactly helpful to Joe

But consider the pros:

  • It's hard to find habitable places that no nation owns, so dividing an existing nation may be easier
  • The UN may reject an isolated island with no allies or recognition by other countries
  • Convincing an existing population to change their government is easier than convincing them to leave their families and move to an island without technology, in the Pacific, without stable infrastructure, food, communication, etc
  • You have a large permanent population. 5 or 6 may not be considered large enough to receive sovereign recognition

In Conclusion

While elements of this aren't completely realistic, they better solve the problem than moving to an island. I mean, it can't be totally realistic - if every average Joe had the means to make his own country - the world would look a lot different now.

  • 17
    $\begingroup$ Your circle includes Russia! I'm sure I'd never try to steal a fish out of the bear's mouth. $\endgroup$
    – user25818
    Nov 14, 2016 at 5:40
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ An American comes to the EU and successfully secedes part of it? You'd have a better chance with that space colony. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2016 at 7:54
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @notstoreboughtdirt You need to convince Russia that it's in their interest to allow the secession. Weakening NATO, and setting up a Russian friendly goverment in former Estonian land, might be persuasive enough. Having convinced Russia you need to leverage this to get the support of the other Security Council members - if you have the acquiessence of the Estonian goverment this might be possible, NATO would not want a repeat of eastern Ukraina, especially if Estonia agrees. China is probably going to be sceptical, but with Russian support and Estonian aquiences would probably not veto. $\endgroup$
    – Taemyr
    Nov 14, 2016 at 8:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DiegoSánchez If hauling one pound into space is $8,000 and average Joe isn't educated on how to build a space station then no, he won't have a better chance with that space colony. See the bottom of my answer - I acknowledge that this isn't totally realistic but it's an idea $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ There's a long shot between "not completely realistic" and "utterly impossible". Have a look at how things are going in Scotland or Catalonia, and those people are locals, what chance would a foreigner (and American of all places) to gain enough traction? Besides, you don't need to pay for a space station, you only need to be appointed mission captain and let others foot the bill. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2016 at 9:32

Start planning backwards. Your character needs 129 votes in the General Assembly and 9 votes, including the veto powers, in the Security Council. That won't happen just because he has physical control over a few acres of dry land. The IS controls land and population. So does FARC. That didn't get them into the UN.

I think first your character needs a cause, and lobby groups for that cause. Get celebrities to endorse this particular microstate. Find tear-jerker explanations why it has to be independent. Hire a good public relations company in Washington and New York. Of course all this is beyond the means of a single average Joe ...

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm fairly sure neither FARC nor IS have tried to get UN recognition $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Nov 14, 2016 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ While getting attention will help and planning for votes will help, where will the microstate be? Will the UN be swayed by U.S. celebrities? etc $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra U.S. celebrities can influence how the U.S. casts its votes, and possibly persuade other states. If other (international) celebrities join the cause, then they can influence the votes in their countries, and possibly other countries with a cultural connection. TL:DR: There are celebrities in places other than the US. $\endgroup$
    – elaforma
    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ All of this is beyond the means of average Joe and wholly insufficient to get past the UNSC. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 12:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg, joining the UN required following UN rules, I can't see IS signing up to follow anyone else's rules. FARC are currently winding down so hopefully that is all coming to an end. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Nov 14, 2016 at 12:25

Ok, we have established that average Joe can not create a country and pretend it to be a country and expect it to be accepted as a country. There are examples of such a situation, but I do not have links at the moment. But then -- What would Joe have to do? How can he pursue his dream?

Create a country. Create a Floating country. Introduction.

To be accepted as a country, he should create a country.

  • I do not know for which reason he wishes to be a member of the UN, because not being a member of the UN opens interesting perspectives, including nationalizing space bodies, like the Mars as an example if you can withstand the backlash of course.

Creating a country means to create a force compatible to a countries influence, which is not under the law of other countries. The list of countries by GDP, and in the UN list, there are 211 countries.

The smallest one is Tuvalu, with the population around 11,000 people and a GDP of ~40 million bucks.

So Joe has to create an enterprise which is capable of generating at least 40 million bucks and employ at least 10 thousand people.

He can employ a country, let it be his political representative in the UN, and give him a land for his 6 fellows to live - stand-alone.

But ok, we are about to create a country, not to buy a country (which is actually very cheap - I think it is possible for 5-10 million a year, so you may want to think about it).

Google announces Q4 and FY 2015 earnings: $74.5 billion in revenue for the year, so we may see a successful company is possible. I am not sure how it fits in the description of average Joe, but successful companies do exist.

The problem with them is that they act under the law of their parent countries, so traditional business models definitely do not fit in the plan, it has to be something else.

What separates Google from being or creating a country, assuming they would like to create one?

If the law of their country says they can't create a country they have to obey because if they do not, the law can be enforced and make that dream impossible.

So, a company which Joe is going to create has to not have vital centers and enforcing a law should have no effect on the company as a whole. It has to be able to continue to make the dream come true under the pressure of law enforcing as a service interrupting factor. It is a preamble for the internet, for p2p stuff, etc. - to work even if some nodes fail. This way his company should be like some of those.

To disrupt that dream coming true, not only law on the company can be enforced, but they can be enforced on other companies under the countries influence, or individuals in a way to prevent/disrupt the action of making the dream come true, by disrupting, for example, the supply. This way the company has to be technologically independent, kind of self-sufficient in that way. So it has to pursue all in-house production like SpaceX, as much as is rationally possible or needed.

The country should have people willing to defend its independence, not for money only, but as a place to live. Thanks to world inequality, in general, there are a lot of people who would like to have better lives and probably would be willing to defend that better life once they have it. They probably would not be very skilled, not the best of humankind, but there will be a good percentage of good people and people with the potential to grow and their children.

So this company has to be able to offer them that better life and place and future. If Joe does not offer a simple and brighter future for them he is screwed. It may be just a glimpse of hope. A lot of good people (I mean in general all humans are good people, they just not always choose good ways because of themselves and because of their environment/circumstances/family) are really in shitty situation, and do shitty things basically for food (Somali pirates as an example, maybe not the best one, but still).

Joe also needs people who will fight for an idea (like SJW), and are more educated to be a teaching force, who is willing and able to work with people. This may be the greatest asset for Joe, not his 50k bucks income, so he should keep that fact in his mind while creating his company and he should attract such people.

  • Catch the wave, Joe, catch the wave - make a great country, so we may be proud of you Joe.

Eventually, Joe needs:

  • p2p network company
  • a set of technologies, a very diverse one.
  • let people know and help them to join
  • future for those people and for their children

What may this company be?

A company which improves the lives of peoples and probably technology oriented with a very wide spectrum of interests - starting from agriculture and ending with space rockets.

Also, we need a name, Adidos is already taken so let it be Mitsubizyco.

The goal of Mitsubizyco is to help 3rd world countries to improve their technological level and trough that help to improve the life of their citizens.

Another goal is education. Some sort of online courses on steroids, because Mitsubizyco wishes to not give formal education only, but employ those people, so employment and education (as much as a particular human may take - university level, Ph.D., no limits) should be one thing.

Potential clients of that organization, are the second half of that list List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita.

Phase 1.

Joe has to start getting things rolling. Build a kernel of people. And have innovative ideas about the technology he will use, as a lot of his future employees are not well-educated people, and they should add something to the company right from the start, and not be a burden.

An example of such a technology is Foldit

Foldit is an online puzzle video game about protein folding. It is part of an experimental research project developed by the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry. The objective of Foldit is to fold the structures of selected proteins as well as possible, using tools provided in the game.

And a small video about Foldit and EteRNA. Maybe not the best one, just a result of fast googling.

So the technology should exploit our natural ability to self-learn, but in the case of Mitsubizyco, it should produce not only research but technologies and applications of those technologies, which could be sold and trough that greases future expansion of Mitsubizyco.

This way: ...earns 50,000 USD annually. In addition to his salary, he has 100,000 USD in his bank account. - It should be spent on development of such a tool.

P2P nature of employees also forces Mitsubizyco to develop teleoperating and automation in production. As a disguise for many possible questions Mitsubizyco uses the colonization of Mars - all those technologies will be needed in that colonization, so basically it is not even a disguise, but a real product which may be sold.

Another disguise is Deep sea mining. A bit more complex, because of the forces involved, but luckily Papua New Guinea takes 137th place in the list of potential clients.

So there is a way to justify the development of certain technologies.

Phase 2.

After developing the tool (at least at a bare minimum of a workable state) and building a kernel of people (some, maybe those 6 fellows for which this country should be build and many others), the second phase should begin - attracting people, applying the tool and developing it further.

The goal of this phase is to involve people into the system as much as possible, get their work, take donations, establishing a presence in other countries, select people which may become bones of the system, begin to produce things and generate income.

Income generation may be in a set of small businesses, which work on behalf of employees of Mitsubizyco in different countries. And what Mitsubizyco brings to the table is technology, support, teleoperating equipment, software, remote workers, education of those workers, automation everywhere where it is possible, people working on developing those systems.

Key people represent Mitsubizyco in their countries and its small business or those businesses are kept by clients of Mitsubizyco (probably both cases are possible, depends on the country).

Mitsubizyco should develop a set of simple but innovative technologies.

Technology should be understood literally - the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives - also known as a recipe, or a HowTo.

Thus converting wood into an edible stuff is a technology. As an example, I as a citizen of my country, may rent a forest for 300$ a year and have the right to harvest 4,000 cubic meters of wood per year. This wood could be converted into a food for a fish (through mushrooms, and worms as an example) - so potentially those roughly 2,000 tons of wood could be converted to 200 tons of a fish (maybe; needs to be tested and calculated), a fish like Tilapia.

The technology itself is not tricky, but unusual. There are some tricky parts, but in general, it is just unusual. This way Phase 2 includes generating such recipes, tested and working, to exploit underrated resources and underrated possibilities in different countries. It has to be done by aggregation of technologies from different sources - people, small research organization, and their works brainstorming. There are a lot of researches, which do not find immediate use, and I doubt someone bothered to combine them into one thing. It needs a lot of human hours and brainstorming, the results are not guaranteed and we just do not have the right tools to do so, but Joe is a smart guy and spends his money rationally for his collective mind tool. (In Mitsubizyco it has a name "magic wand", do not ask why).

Another way is to adapt technologies which already exist in some countries, but in countries where they make the maximum profit (same as outsourcing stuff, but in a bit different fashion, mostly in the part we make the profit, instead of them making a profit).

Phase 3. Base.

At some point in time, depending on the successes of Mitsubizyco enterprise it will be ready to build a base, The Base.

The purpose of this base is to host technological cycles which may be hard to host in other countries, consolidate resources and power and create a seed for the future country. It's a Place of power.

But as a disguise it is a new resource gathering (deep sea mining) and teleoperating production testing facility, which tests closed cycles of production with 0 waste and 0 emissions, on behalf and by request of micronations, who are deeply concerned about ships with waste, which is thrown in their territorial waters, so they decided to help the big stupid brothers to improve their technologies using Polynesian (unameit) wisdom of their ancestors. Exactly this is going on there.

As a start, it may be a small ship 3,000-5,000 tons of displacement. At this point, Joe probably has to have a good connection with some of the micronations, to get a flag and registration.

Mitsubizyco may be interested in those things Manganese nodule. They are relatively easy to harvest, the only small difficulty is that they are deep in a sea, but the magical wand is created exactly to solve this type of problem, by using the Mitsubizyco employee hive mind.

In this way Mitsubizyco gets construction materials, it would be beautiful to find such a place with a relatively big deposit of them near island countries. As they can generate energy in their sea waters, or allow Mitsubizyco to generate it. So the construction material and energy sources will be relatively close to each other.

But the main goal is to find such a deposit in a good (meaning: least interesting for others) place in the ocean.

  • I'm not aware of details about the sea law and sea resources law, but the good relation with those nearby countries can help to make this harvesting a fully legal operation. But if not, it is the time and place in the story where tension with the law may begin. Those resources are not claimed by other nations (some well-known places are, but can't find the link at the moment, which countries have right - who, where and how much), at least there should be places which are not claimed.

This phase should solve 3 goals:

  • independent energy source
  • independent resource source
  • actual independent production base with the full set of available Mitsubizyco technologies

Phase 4. Floating city.

Phase 3 unlocks the ability to create a big structure in the sea, using resources and energy.

The goal of this phase it to create a place of power and grow it. And refining technologies behind it. And increasing the production for export.

It has to be a floating thing and probably at that point, Joe's corporation should have a formal agreement with some of the micronations, which allows to host it temporarily in their waters.

It's a big artificial floating island. It has to be floating to move at some point in time over the place where resources (these nodules) are and rise like the Jolly Roger, claim this place and 12 miles around of it as their territorial waters. And this will be the time where friction with others may start to be noticeable, not necessarily if the place is outside of the usual routes for ships, enough remote from military bases.

But it is a necessary step for future country building, as for the Mars, Joe's goal is millions of people. It means something around 20x20 km structure, just for food production (with some percentage of sea product supplements), and 10x10km for energy generation (solar something, 10% efficiency) to take about the 150ish places in the countries list, and another 10x10km for energy generation for factories which make exporting products.

This phase goal is to build, build and build. Grow this floating island, attract/select/help to move/teach people, develop technologies and services, be the one who takes outsourcing of production for others, be the Amazon of production, grow, grow, grow, ...

Have secret plans and develop a defense, launch orbit satellites, build spy network, establish distinct country attributes.

At some point in time, this place will just be de facto a country. And if Joe likes to be a member of UN, a big family of countries, he may apply, and if he does he will make lots of friends of countries who depend on Mitsubizyco and he can make those friends, because he treats those countries, not as just resource colonies, but helps them to get a respectable place in this world, be part of a bigger power, he will probably get an approval. (Joe, think twice. I don't know, such an opportunity to be free from treaties is an exclusive thing - do not give it up so easily!).

Yeah, something like that, probably it will be a goal of his entire life, do not expect it to happen fast.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dang, that is quite a wall of text good sir. +1 from me just for the time you must have spent $\endgroup$
    – automaton
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @automaton It just so happened that OP asked Q which I think about times to times. And writing answers on WB is just pretty robust way to host some of my thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Nov 14, 2016 at 19:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Grow your own country" is a major subplot in Greg Egan's Distress. Grow, using GM coral .... $\endgroup$
    – nigel222
    Dec 31, 2016 at 12:57

Probably fastest, probably not cheapest, and likely out of reach of average American Joe:

Buy or otherwise become the ruler of Nauru, one of the smallest members of the UN.

  • $\begingroup$ This is my view too. The easiest way for a very rich average Joe to become the ruler of a country is to take over a country -- either by a coup or by regular elections. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Average Joe has none of the resources necessary to achieve this: money, connections, charisma, combat or assassination skills, magic. An average person would depend entirely on luck, and there are much more sensible bets to take out there, like a lotto ticket or aspiring to die to a world record of successive lightning strikes to a single person. $\endgroup$
    – talrnu
    Nov 16, 2016 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ @talrnu You could be right, but I suspect the odds are the same for obtaining a leadership roll of an already recognized country -vs- finding appropriate land, obtaining recognition, and then votes to become a member. $\endgroup$
    – Jammin4CO
    Nov 16, 2016 at 15:07

The fastest way for Average Joe to become an UN member is having a very, very powerful ally which has a decided interest in creating Microstan and which has much influence in the UN.

Let's have some completely invented states which have, I emphasize here, absolutely nothing to do with real countries. Every resemblance to actual countries are purely coincidental.

We are talking about

  • Abkhazistan
  • Mandschukostan
  • Kosovistan
  • Taiwanistan

The first thing for creating a new country is a powerful ally which would like have control over a certain area, the only thing Average Joe need is to convince the ally that he is the perfect man for the job. Perhaps he has contacts and good friends in the area, perhaps he is a extremely good populist, perhaps he simply has the right relationships.

There is this specific small area which is for whatever reason getting very important. It has rare and precious natural resources, a very good strategic position, a prospering part of a country, the population does not like the current government or the powerful ally really likes to annoy the current rulers and his friends. It does not matter at all if the area is small or has a permanent population or a government, where there's a will, there's a way.

The people could think that the powerful ally is not interested in the advancement of mankind if he invades it, but does it for selfish reasons. Therefore the best reason is that the people actually living on the land want to shake off the yoke of tyranny and gain independence. And therefore the powerful ally will support the independence of Microstan with money, weapons and support.

Now we completed the first step: We have a country or a De-facto-regime. The second step is much harder: Allowing the other powerful members that Microstan get the UN membership. Either the other veto powers are not really interested (for whatever reason) or the powerful ally needs to strike a bargain with the other powers. Once the powerful members agree that Microstan could get UN membership, they will talk to the less powerful members and convince them with pure rational arguments that it is in their best interest to accept Microstan as new member.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The average person doesn't have powerful allies in this position. $\endgroup$
    – talrnu
    Nov 16, 2016 at 1:26

The country closest to nationhood is Somaliland

The not-nation that has the best path to nationhood is Somaliland. Somaliland has been functionally independent for about 25 years now. It has standing civic institutions that are more robust than most of the other nations on the continent. It had its first peaceful democratic power transfer in 2010, which is not a minor feat. I could only find Benin (1991), Malawi (1994), South Africa (1994, not counting apartheid), Ghana (2000), Senegal (2000), and Zambia (2002) in Sub-Saharan Africa that managed the feat before Somaliland. It also hasn't had a civil war yet in its existence.

There is really no good reason for Somaliland not to be independent, it has been much more successful than any of its neighboring Somali sheikdoms, and it hasn't seen large scale war in its capitol since 1991. There are at least two dozen recognized nations that can't say that.

It would help if Average Joe was black, and Sunni Muslim. It was also help if he was a member of he Somali diaspora. But for all the 'making a new nation' advocates, Somaliland is the closest you can get.


I tend to agree that this is not possible for average people.

Since no one brought it up yet: One of the serious attempts to do this and actually found a micronation took place on the Minerva Reef in 1971. The example is quite instructive for the question at hand:

A reef in the South Pacific, the Minerva Reef was raised above sea level with large amounts of sand brought in from Australia, thereby creating an unclaimed piece of land which was promptly declared the Republic of Minerva.

The Minervans quickly discovered, however, that international politics is much more about power than it is about the international law. Minerva's neighboring states were quite displeased with the foundation of the Republic. After an international conference on the subject - to which the Republic of Minerva was, of course, not invited - one of the neighbor states, Tonga, claimed the reef. When an 'official' representative of the Republic of Minerva, one Mr. Davis, showed up and requested an audience with the king of Tonga, he was informed that Tonga was prepared to use force to remove any Minervans from the reef; his audience was not granted.

Beyond this, as has been pointed out by other answers, even states with substantial population and territory under their control sometimes have a difficult time gaining UN membership - especially if one (or more) of the permanent members of the UN security council is hostile to them (consider Taiwan).


Fortunately, Joe Average is very well situated for this particular task. He is a junior programmer in a corporation which is really a DOD black-ops group, associated with the far-from-defunct Star Wars program.

One late night, during a solo, graveyard shift, manning the Super-Laser Satellite's control center, Joe decides to become a U.N. recognized nation. He starts by using the laser to drill down through the Earth's mantle, creating a new active volcano, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Before his shift is over, the cone of the new volcano is already breaching the water's surface. His new homeland is born! He slaves the satellite to his laptop, then programs it to shoot at any planes, boats or submarines which approach the island before him. Before dawn, he charters a boat and heads off to lay claim to his new nation.

During the ocean journey, he uses his laptop to send emails to all the Fortune 500 companies. He invites them to come to his island and set up factories, corporate offices or even slave camps; all with very favorable tax status and occasional free use of the laser satellite for the elimination of unwelcome competitors. He make the terms of the offer, "first come, first served" and then waits as his island gains a population.

Finally, he elects himself King. "All those in favor, remain un-incinerated. Those opposed,...."

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ …and those countries whose planes, boats or submarines and citizens where shot by the Super-Laser will support him at the UN votes, not caring about the casualties, not declare him a terrorist or a global risk, and certainly DOD won't mind that he stole their satellite and exposed the secret black-ops group. What could go wrong? $\endgroup$
    – Ángel
    Nov 15, 2016 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I see what I've been doing wrong. I'm an average junior programmer too, clearly I just need to uncover the black ops organization my employer serves as cover for and exploit my completely normal position therein. Keep an eye on the news, I'll try to remember to thank you by name but the air's pretty thin when you're at the top... $\endgroup$
    – talrnu
    Nov 16, 2016 at 1:32

The first step is not getting land, it's getting an ally. Joe will need to be able to offer something to at least one of the permanent members of the security counsel, something good enough to get them to consider pushing the others to let this happen.

So what can Joe offer a major power? um.... um.... he can annoy another major power.

Joe approaches Putin (oh drat we're pretty far into the weeds and only picking up speed) and says "I'm totally not a spy for America, help me set up a micro nation on an Japanese oil well in the South China Sea." Putin has drank an extra case of vodka that night so he agrees. Somehow most of the backlash becomes an international incident between China and the US, who each assume the other is behind this silliness but somehow think it works out to their own advantage. As part of the settlement the nation gets recognized, but it is charged with cleanup costs of the flocks of flying pigs, who have caused an ecological disaster.


I'm basing my answer partly on the path you described and partly on the contents of this video. While the steps you list in the question seem to make sense, there is one important thing missing. To paraphrase a conclusion in the linked video, you aren't a country until other contries see you as a country. Your application to the United Nations could go one of two ways: they see you as some wackjob living on a desert island and brush you off, or they can see you as a legitimate state and take you seriously. You'd need some time to establish a functioning government, tax collection system, investments in infrastructure, etc, but that might not be enough.

There seems to me an extremely easy way for everyone in the world to suddenly take you seriously. Maybe the United States kept an armed nuclear missile silo on this remote Pacific island for their testing during the Cold War. Maybe after they ceased testing, they forgot about the silo. The USA has more nukes than it can take care of anyway, I wouldn't be surprised (although I would be completely horrified) to learn that we've forgotten about some and left them abandoned. Maybe you got lucky and stumbled across one of these, and it still works! Suddenly, you're a nuclear power, and the rest of the world will take you seriously. That'd probably fast-track your application to the UN, if for no other reason than to get you to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That'd probably fast-track your application to the UN. - I think it is fast track to other events, fast and furious. But if they can make those, and not one know how much and where they are, but they know deployment system is in place for sure and good enough, it still may be not enough. North Korea. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Or just nuke your country as a terrorist nation. I mean, you are in the middle of nowhere. Who's going to know? ;) $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 17:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TracyCramer one of their missiles seems to have exploded by itself, likely due to bad manipulation. After all, these people had no training, and those missiles had been unattended for years. $\endgroup$
    – Ángel
    Nov 15, 2016 at 22:44


Heinlein described the independence of the Moon with getting finances, allies, military power, media support and internal politics.

I think you could use so of the ideas for your new country.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ None of that is possible for Average Joe. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 15, 2016 at 15:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I did not meant the whole moon story but all the parts about nationbuilding. And I think that Mannie is close to a "average Moon Joe". $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2016 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ I took the question to mean in todays world. If we can construct any science-fiction scenario the question becomes too broad, imho. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 16, 2016 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ No, it was just about nationbuilding. But this shows one very important Point: no-one can create a new nation without powerful support. So average Joe alone: no chance. Average Joe plus a movement and some Friends with Money etc.: a chance. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2016 at 14:32

An average Joe is not going to create and lead a nation nor be able to get it through the process of getting UN recognition.

If your Joe is a good leader (not an average Joe), he could start by creating an online 'nation' and find people interested in the new cyber nation's customs, laws, beliefs, etc. Young people are easily encouraged with grandiose ideas of creating something new but you'll also need some folks with the wisdom and experience to help guide the nation through its infancy.

Once you have people with the necessary skills, builders, healers, growers, etc., find a physical location to change your cyber nation into a 'real' one. All of you help with the expenses and materials to get things started.

Find an uninhabited island and create some 'resource' that others need, perhaps technology, exotic food stuff, or something else.

Once you have something others want you'll need some sort of defensive capability to prevent rogues from taking it by force.

Now you can create trading partners and international agreements. Once recognized as a nation the process of getting into the UN is as you state.


It just isn't possible if we assume the rules of the real world apply and one life time to accomplish the task. The fact of the matter is UN member nations have zero incentive to allow a new micro-nation into the fold. Furthermore if an Average Joe gained some resource that was important enough for him to gain enough leverage for a bid he couldn't defend it adequately to keep other nations from taking it from him. This means that we need magic, supernatural intervention, or generations of time for this to happen.


What Joe needs to do is buy a sailboat and sail out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. While trolling his line hooks on a strange outcropping. To his shock and horror an island starts to rise out of the ocean. He accidentally tripped the lever that raised Atlantis from the ocean and "created" an island. The population is very technologically advanced, and wants to join the world governing body. Amazingly they can communicate with Joe and decide he is their ambassador to the world whose mission is to gain them entrance into the UN. Since the world wants to trade with Atlantis due to their technology which can't be replicated, and Atlantis is too advanced to attack militarily the world powers grudgingly vote them into the UN. This means that Joe "created" Atlantis by bringing it to the surface and he successfully lobbied to get it admitted into the UN.

Generational Approach

Clearly Joe is a government official in Puerto Rico who is a strong advocate for independence. He inspires a large amount of public support for succession from the United States and independence for the island through his impassioned and electrifying speeches. He becomes a thought leader and captures the zeitgeist of the population like the world hasn't seen since Lenin. Unfortunately for Joe, the United States prevents Joe from realizing his dream of an independent Puerto Rico during his lifetime. However a couple generations later when Mexico has recaptured the territory stolen from them through Manifest Destiny, and India is the undisputed world power that strategic marriage between Joe's son and a Brahmin woman with an infant son pays off big. That infant son becomes President of the of a greatly weaken United States, his last act before exiting office in disgrace due to birther revelations and being India's puppet is to endorse Puerto Rico's acceptance into the UN. After acceptance Joe gets a national holiday, and is credited with launching the independence movement in earnest.


Read up about the history of Principality of Sealand (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Sealand#History).

It may not be quite what you are looking for, and your average Joe may not be able to do what the Bate did but it does give a lot of factual information about a daring attempt at a micro nation.

(I would have put this in a comment if I could. If this is inappropriate I will delete it.)


The most feasible way I see is buying some small inhabited island/piece of land by the condition that you can make it a new nation. Some small country without national pride does not really care about losing a piece of land. In this case UN has no reason to not accept the new country. Probably they still would not accept. A tax paradise elders house and there might be few persons willing to come. Some employees from close nations might be willing to take the nationality.

Average Joes though do not create nations.


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