See also: Micronation


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From micro- (very small) +‎ nation (a sovereign state; country), so-called because most micronations are small in size. First sense probably coined on 11 March 1973 by the editors of the Lansing State Journal (see quotations) in a republication of an article by Philip J. Hilts, originally writing for Potomac Magazine (Sunday supplement to The Washington Post).[1] Compare microcountry and mini-nation.

The secessionist nation-state sense is from French micronation,[2] analysable as micro- +‎ nation (a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed based on a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity). First attested in 1961 (see quotations) in response to the Year of Africa (1960).





micronation (plural micronations)

  1. A non-autonomous entity that claims to be a sovereign state and mimics the actions of a state, but lacks any legal recognition and exists only on paper or in the mind of its creator; a micronational entity.
    • 1973 March 11, Philip J. Hilts, “Micro-nations Nebulous Fourth World”, in Lansing State Journal, page C-5:
      For every dreamer there is somewhere a doer, and in the realm [of] the strange micro-nations, the Republic of Minerva has plunged a bit ahead of the nebulous status of most others.
    • 1978, David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, The People's Almanac #2: A Completely New Book from Cover to Cover, Bantam Books, →ISBN, page 330:
      This is the world's largest micronation, taking up all the seas of the world beyond national 3-mi. limits.
    • 1996 April 1, David Zgodziński, “Net full of nations”, in The Montreal Gazette, page B3:
      The list of micro-nations is long and colorful. The spirit of new nation-building that resonates from King Robert's descriptions of these countries, is seductive.
    • 2006 November 1, Alex Chadwick, “'Lonely Planet' Explores Micronations”, in NPR[1]:
      Even if you are very well traveled, you may not yet have visited any of the world's micronations. There are places all over where someone or some group has declared a sort of mock sovereignty. Real nations mostly ignore them, and so does everyone else usually.
    • 2021, Harry Hobbs, George Williams, Micronations and the Search for Sovereignty (Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law), Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 21:
      After exploring several classificatory accounts that identify commonalities and distinctions among and between different types of micronation, we outline our definition. We find that micronations are self-declared nations that perform and mimic acts of sovereignty, and adopt many of the protocols of nations, but lack a foundation in domestic and international law for their existence and are not recognised as states in domestic or international forums.
  2. Synonym of microstate (a country that has a very small population and land area).
    • 1967 June 11, T. W. Carlson, “U.N. Should Act to Save Nigeria”, in Star Tribune, page 45:
      Also, since Nigeria is the cornerstone of the economy of West Africa, many countries around its perimeter will suffer, including many of the "micro-nations" of the U.N. which were the biggest supporters of the actions in The Congo and Rhodesia.
    • 1991 July 7, “Wanna try driving a 'Yugo,' Mister?”, in Robert M. McKinney, editor, The Santa Fe New Mexican, page A-6:
      Europe already has workable arrangements with micro-nations like Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Andorra and San Marino.
    • 2021 April 2, Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli, “San Marino, the micronation within Italy, stokes envy with speedy Russian-supplied vaccine campaign”, in The Washington Post[2]:
      But in easing its own vaccine crisis, this hilltop micronation – which is not a member of the European Union – has become a foil for a much larger crisis playing out beyond its borders.
  3. (historical, dated) A small ethnic secessionist movement, especially (but not exclusively) in Africa.
    • 1961, Mamadou Dia, translated by Mercer Cook, The African Nations and World Solidarity, Frederick A. Praeger, →ISBN, page 143:
      We are faced with micronationalisms that need be tamed, micronations that will have to be organized.
    • 1973, Anthony Clunies Ross, John Langmore, Alternative Strategies for Papua New Guinea, Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 129:
      The concept of an independent Bougainville is sometimes denounced because such a micronation would necessarily restrict the scope of employment opportunities while increasing the frustrations of educated Bougainvilleans.
    • 1975, Patrick O'Meara, edited by Gwendolen M. Carter, Rhodesia: Racial Conflict or Coexistence?, Cornell University Press, →ISBN, page 55:
      Margery Perham once remarked that white Rhodesia was a micronation equivalent to a medium-sized British town. How has this micronation, about 80 per cent of whom live in the urban areas, been able to develop and retain control over the African population for so long?
  4. (rare) A very small nation (historically constituted, stable community of people, formed based on a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity and manifested in a common culture).
    • 1943, Sax[tone] E. Bradford, The Battle for Buenos Aires, Harcourt, Brace and Company, page 95:
      Careful groundwork had given Germany a highly unified micronation within the boundaries of Argentina, in many ways better prepared and better organized than the Argentine nation itself.
    • 1990 January 12, Martin Woollacott, “How the Soviet empire should be dismantled”, in The Guardian, page 10:
      Leaving aside micro-nations, the Soviet Union is a large Slavic nation state to which are attached some reluctant Europeans in the west.

Alternative forms




(Entity that claims to be a sovereign state):





Derived terms

Terms derived from micronation




  1. ^ Philip J. Hilts (1973 January 21) “Where Is This Place?: Strange shores, indeed”, in Potomac Magazine, The Washington Post, page PC12.
  2. ^ micronation, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.

Further reading