viernes, 4 de marzo de 2011

micronations peru cusco

Across the world, some areas have always realised that the mature resolution to a political dispute is to declare independence. And hence there are some "countries" which don't tend to appear on official maps that the intrepid (or stupid) tourist can make their way to.

La République du Saugeais
Where: Eastern France, near the Swiss border

With a border manned by two retired farmers in fancy uniform, it would be fair to assume that La République du Saugeais is something of a joke. And that it is — it started on its road to magnificent independence when a local hotelier jokingly asked the visiting regional prefect if he had a passport to enter. The prefect then went and researched the area's history and decided it should indeed be independent, declaring the man who ran the hotel to be the president.

It's bigger than many micronations, and it's a pretty if not exactly exciting place. Expect lots of rolling hills, the odd scenic abbey and a high proportion of cheesemakers among the population.
South Ossetia
Where: Northern Georgia

This breakaway region declared itself independent from Georgia in 1991, and Georgia wasn't happy about it. Despite tensions between the two parties, South Ossetia effectively operated as an independent state until the Georgians decided to get all firm and manly by reasserting power in 2008.

Unfortunately for Georgia, South Ossetia has a rather big mate to the north. And under the pretence of protecting Russian citizens living there, Russia steamed in with tanks and other assorted scary weaponry.

Georgia took what is termed in diplomatic circles as an "absolute kicking" and now the situation is much as it was, albeit with a lot of Russian troops in South Ossetia and Nicaragua gamely joining Russia as the only countries recognising South Ossetian independence.

Visiting is not advised, although there is some excellent hiking to be had in the north of the "state". The towns and cities may be a bit rubbly for some people's tastes.
Where: Vilnius, Lithuania

With Vilnius being declared Europe's Capital of Culture 2009, a few more people are going to make their way to the "independent" country within the city this year.

Uzupis — just over the river from the city centre — has always been something of an arty suburb, but the locals took it one step further in 1997 by declaring independence. They also built a comically large statue of an angel on a big pole to celebrate their freedom — it dwarfs absolutely everything in sight.

The suburb also has its own president, currency and constitution. The latter can be read on a large metal plaque and has 41 points, most of which seem to be about dogs and the right to have a jolly nice time by the river.

Its national day is on April 1 (this isn't a coincidence), and if you can get past the 12-man army on the bridges, it's a great party with live bands and an awful lot of beer.
Where: North Island, New Zealand

When local council boundaries were shifted in 1988, this tiny hamlet was moved from the Taranaki region to Manawatu. Realising that this meant they would have to play rugby for the hated rivals from down the road, the miffed inhabitants elected to declare the village an independent republic.

It has a border guard (a toilet) a distinctly moonshine-ish national beer and its own president. Two of the previous candidates elected to the presidency have been a goat and a poodle.

Whangamomona holds independence celebrations every second January, and the locals get all excited about the sheep races, which are universally deemed to be the highlight of the whole affair.
Principality of Hutt River
Where: Middle of nowhere, Western Australia

Australia's second country is arguably the most famous micronation in the world. It was created by farmer Leonard Casley in 1969; his answer to a row over wheat quotas was to secede from the Commonwealth.

It's essentially just a big farm, but Hutt River now claims more than 13,000 citizens worldwide. Members of the royal family can usually be found staffing the souvenir shop — sometimes in curlers and a dressing gown.
Where: Eastern Moldova

Some people just don't want to admit that the Soviet Union ever broke up, and the chaps in charge of Transdniestr are keen to stay in their little time warp.

For the visitor, this means that it's all very, very dodgy. No country recognises Transdniestr. It's supposedly part of Moldova, but acts as de facto state with the Moldovan Government having no control of what goes on.

What does go on is corruption, black marketeering and dissidents getting a thorough beating in the cells. Foreigners are viewed with outright suspicion, and usually only get in after bribing border guards.

If you do get in, it's wise to avoid taking photos, keep an extremely low profile and soak up the atmosphere of a living relic of the Soviet era.

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