Less than fifteen kilometers south of Hungary, on a swampy scrap of the Danube river bank, between Serbia and Croatia, is an unrecognized, yet uncontested micronation. the Free Republic of Liberland.
Founded by President Vít Jedlička, from the Czech Republic, on April 13th 2015, the English-speaking nation is only seven square kilometers in size. Only two countries are smaller, Vatican City and Monaco.
Interest from potential citizens has been overwhelming in the past year, there have already been over 405,000 citizenship registrations through the website. Of those, 91,000 are eligible for citizenship.
91,000 citizens in such a small area presents some problems, they probably can't all live in single story buildings or there would be precious little land left for farming or recreation. This led Jedlička's staff to put together an architecture contest.
The 2016 Liberland Brochure shows a variety of submissions from around the globe, many are futuristic, utopian designs for city planning. The primary rule was that the designs must “be agile and highly adaptive to market forces that are open to perpetual adaptation.”
The first construction projects are slated to start this summer. By next year, they plan on holding general elections, then full international recognition of the country by 2020, complete with 150 embassies around the world. Jedlička went over his full plans in a video presentation for the half-year anniversary, answering all sorts of questions from an international audience.
The intent for Liberland is to create the freest country the world has ever seen. Jedlička self-identifies as a libertarian, specifically a Bastiat-influenced anarcho-capitalist, who would not normally want any government in his ideal home. The “Constitutional Republic with elements of direct democracy” flies the colors of anarcho-capitalism in it’s flag.
However, he came to realize that starting a country needs one, other nations require relations with some kind of national sovereignty. He has specifically set out to create the least-regulated, smallest-government minarchy possible. Jedlička has traveled to a number of different countries, as President of the new nation, to begin diplomatic relations, while setting up 70 representative 70 offices.
“In my view, the state should be severely limited to its proper role, which is diplomacy, security and justice. In today’s world, even so-called free market countries such as Switzerland or Singapore have evolved into organisms that are extremely over-regulated.”
- Vít Jedlička
The one year anniversary marks a significant milestone for Liberland, considering how few people expected both Croatia and Serbia to leave it alone. The new nation has had considerable press since its founding, including many TV and paper news spotlights, from several of the largest media outlets around the planet.
Despite all of the publicity, its neighbors still show every sign of allowing it to survive, and might even be helping. According to Jedlička, Croatia has 100 police officers enforcing the border between Croatia and Liberland.
Meanwhile, Serbia has issued an official document stating that Liberland was not formed on their land. The land is officially unclaimed by anyone other than Jedlička, and he's been very busy filling out all of the right paperwork and making the best possible contacts to start a nation.
“Liberland was formed on what was formerly known as Gorna Siga. This area was terra nullius, meaning that no other country claimed sovereignty over this area. We claimed it and declared a new state, which is absolutely legal under international law.”
Applicants for citizenship must not have any criminal history, other than tax evasion, not be communist, nazi or other extremist, and agree to abide by the ideals of placing respect for others and their property above all.
The application also incurs a fee, and it’s only payable in the micronation's upcoming cryptocurrency, The Liberlandian Merit. No one, including Jedlička himself, will be an official citizen of Liberland until they have paid 10,000 Merits.
Described as a “private equity currency,” Merits are colored coins that are temporarily pegged to the USD at 1:1. They are said to represent a claim on the future revenues of Liberland.
While US$10,000 might sound expensive, Investors can attain citizenahip in a range of countries, for much more money. Bulgarian citizenship can be acquired in exchange for €1.2m in government bonds. A passport for St. Lucia runs around $200,000 to $250,000, or invest $500,000 to $550,000 in government bonds for five years. The cost of a Maltese passport is $1.57 million, plus fees.
Jedlička has been a goldbug since 2003, and often professes the virtues of sound money, including bitcoin. He states that a nation needs a currency that is unique, and creating the right incentives to have growth in the proper places at the beginning is crucial to his plans.
Liberland Merits will be used to reward people who help the country's causes, including simply being a pioneer, and building infrastructure such as homes. There are currently no taxes of any kind, and the only three services that the Liberland government will offer are diplomacy, security, and justice, every other department of government will be handled by the free market, according to the constitution.
Jedlička sees no reason why these three core services should cost more than two to three percent of a nation's economic output, and taxation shouldn't have to go above two or three percent either. Citizenship fees will be the main source of income until the country is up and running.