On November 2, the microscopic West Antarctic region celebrates twenty years since the day 21-year-old Travis McHenry decided to found it by claiming more than 1.5 million square kilometers of uninhabited land in West Antarctica. This is five times the size of Italy, and therefore not so much a microscopic country, even if it is defined and defined in this way as the sovereign project of a few people not recognized by other countries.
It’s a place McHenry has never visited, nor even intends to visit: in fact, the twentieth anniversary will be celebrated at his home in the United States, where he plans to wave the flag of his microscopic state, having a white cross on a blue background, with a white crown in the upper left quadrant.
In many ways, Westarctica is similar to many other microscopic nations among the at least one hundred that are believed to be active in some way in the world at the present time. Meaning that it was founded mostly for fun and is mostly found on the internet, for example in Small version of Wikipedia: where history, coat of arms, literature, characteristics, general organization, and a whole other chain of events and curiosities are described in great detail. Often with banter overtones: the audio assigned to the flag for example says that the latter “has gone through many changes since the nation first declared itself a sovereign territory”, and about the first flag (This is amazing) says it was “generally considered to be ugly to the eye”, one of the “ugliest and most disconcerting in the history of physiology”.
In some of its features, Westarctica is still quite a microscopic, as it was largely in its early years. However, for some time he has been trying to be something else as well, like Tell Travel magazine article afar, according to Westarctica “is now using its power for something other than controlling Antarctica.” In fact, Westarctica has for several years become a non-profit association, the current main goal of which is to raise awareness among the people, not just its “citizens”, on issues related to climate change.
When he chose to found it twenty years ago, McHenry wasn’t thinking about philanthropy. Born in Benton, Pennsylvania, he attended a nearby university and became passionate about theater, deciding instead to enlist in the Navy, where he became involved in counterterrorism intelligence activities. During the service read CIA World Factbook, a book published by the CIA every year, containing information, figures, and curiosities of various kinds about all the countries in the world, read by knowing that no country has officially claimed a large slice of the Arctic.
Other countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States) claimed other territories, but none seemed to do so. Already passionate about smaller states (in 1996 he tried, without much success, to establish one), McHenry got some information about them, studied the Antarctic Treaty (an international agreement of 1959) and decided to send a letter to all the countries that claimed land in Antarctica to say that he did it with Those in the area that were in his head would form Westarctica.
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Nobody answers and no other real country recognizes any legitimacy in Westartica. However, in the disinterest of others, McHenry continued: He wrote other letters (one to the US State Department dealing with the oceans and polar circles, in which he alluded to a desire to “use those areas for future research and colonization”) and set up a microsite for their microscopic state, which It had at that time another, more fashionable name in keeping with this ugly flag: “The Achaean Antarctic”. “Achaeus”, from the adjective in which the Homeric poems refer to the Greeks, because he had recently readEliade.
McHenry—who calls himself in business in Westarctica as Grand Duke Travis—has done nothing to promote the Achaean Territory of Antarctica, and spoke to afar He noted that the site was “terrible,” adding, “I still don’t know how some people were able to find it.” But someone ended up deciding to play together, collaborating in the construction of a small national story and in the illusory and digital creation of everything that could be used to give an identity to a micro-state.
Although there were microscopic countries before the Internet, some of which are well known and narrated, things in this sector were simpler about twenty years ago. The Internet has facilitated communication and collaboration between distant people interested in a project, disengaging the idea of microstates from the actual creation or occupation of a particular physical space.
Westarctica says it has its limits in the real world. and in good health CapitalAn army and colonial possessions are one of them Within the United Statesthat was “conqueredOn October 29, 2017, of which the microscopic wiki says: ‘There is a lot in common with West Antarctica, because it is a remote, uninhabited area and a hostile climate, and nobody seems to care much about it.
In short, the Westarctic region is mostly found on the Internet and thanks to the Internet. as told to afar Philip Hayward, one of the world’s leading experts on the field of small countries: “Many of these stories do not make sense; they are symbols, performances, fantasies, aspirations”, which then become, in some cases, parodies of real nations or outright criticisms of A limit to the concept of nation and power.Book 2015 Atlas of Microscopic States Written by Graziano Graziani, who is also a great expert on the subject, ends with the following chapters: “Imaginations in Power”, “Acts of Protest”, “Against Authority” and “Dystopias”.
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Since the first users crossed the “Achaean Antarctic” story online, a lot has happened. The island has changed its name and flag due to a long series of upheavals and discourses about how it is managed. In 2006, it happened, for example, that McHenry, who at the same time continued to serve in the Navy, left the leadership of the Microstates to the then Minister of Information. Online discussions among amateurs of smaller nations followed, and there came a time when interest waned and Westarctica became almost inactive.
Around 2009, McHenry, who had left the Navy in the meantime, regained control of Westartica and put it back on track, finding a few dozen followers. Over the past decade, McHenry has revolutionized many things in his life (changed his jobs, left his wife and married a colleague, wrote books and made podcasts) and afar He said in 2014 that he was about to quit Westarctica.
Instead he decided to keep doing it and aim to make Westarctica one Nonprofit This, he attracts the curious and enthusiasts with his antics, and then tries to make them aware of issues related to climate change and the protection of Antarctica, specifically that big piece of Antarctica where Westarctica should be. By raising money this way.
In other words, Westarctica continues to do microscopic things – into 2022 Sarah Among the organizers of MicroCon, the World Conference of Micro-States – McHenry is still called the Grand Duke and on certain occasions dresses as if he really was. The main focus of Westarctica, which says it has a few thousand citizens, about 500 of whom are active online in microscopic nations, is now fundraising, and it has raised a few tens of thousands of dollars in recent years. “You’ve given people something to believe in,” McHenry said. afar “And I did it for a good cause. Westarctica started for my ego and became a thing for the environment.”
I called Honorary Consulate of Costa Rica in Italy did not answer. The last post on the page on Facebook is from June 2020.
“Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover.”