Unclaimed Lands You Can Actually Rule

There are unclaimed lands out there just waiting to be claimed by someone with a dream and ambition. Let's explore examples of terra nullius you could rule.

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Unless you're born into the job, it's pretty difficult to become a king or queen. The first requirement is a country to rule, but that's not as hard as you think. There are unclaimed lands out there just waiting to be claimed by someone with a dream and ambition. Here are 10 "terra nullius" that you could actually rule.

10. Marie Byrd Land

If you have ambitions to rule a large kingdom how about Marie Byrd Land? It’s the largest unclaimed area of land in the world. It’s free, it’s easy to locate, and it’s waiting for someone to claim it.

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However, before you start making plans, think: why is an area as big as Greenland lying empty? Well, Marie Byrd Land is in the remotest part of Antarctica where the temperate never rises above freezing. It's a land of snowy, rocky, barren mountains, with a covering of ice 4 kilometres thick.

Situated between the Ross Shelf and the Ross Sea, Marie Byrd Land was discovered in 1929, in a flight undertaken by a US naval commander named Richard E Byrd, who named it after his wife, and is so remote that no nations with an interest in the Antarctic have claimed it.

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One man tried, though. In 2001 Travis McHenry laid claim to it and renamed it the Protectorate of Westarctica. To substantiate his claim he sent letters to all the countries signed up to the Antarctic Treaty. Nobody answered and the claim went unrecognized, so it’s probably still up for grabs, if you like the extreme cold.

9. Liberland

In April 2015, a Czechoslovakian named Vit Jedicka, succeeded in establishing a kingdom when he discovered 75 square kilometers of unclaimed, deserted, forest-covered land sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia.

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He declared himself president claiming the purpose of his new state was to build a country “where honest people can prosper without being oppressed by government making their lives unpleasant by the burden of restrictions and taxes.”

Sounds ideal but the following month Croatia began blocking access to Liberland, detaining and convicting anyone who attempted to enter and in May 2016 passed a law making crossing into Liberland illegal, ever since legal arguments have raged between the countries with no outcome.

Many claimed that Vit Jedicka created the whole country as a publicity stunt, but in the first year, he received 20,000 applications for citizenship.

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Today the motto of the micronation is “Live and let live” and Jedicka spends his time traveling the world promoting his country that has recently switched to a Bitcoin economy. However, Croatia still arrests and prosecutes anyone who attempts to go there.

8. The Lagoan Isles

How about becoming the ruler of the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles? You can issue your own banknotes, design your own flag, and even have your own coat of arms. Sounds good, but it’s a lot grander than it really is.

The Lagoan Isles are three islands in the middle of Baffins Pond, in the English city of Portsmouth. The pond and islands date back as far as 1194 and have changed hands many times, until 1912 when it became a public park that was sold to the City of Portsmouth.

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In 2005 Louis Stephens noticed that the islands were not part of the sale. He contacted Portsmouth Council and laid claim to them, calling himself Grand Duke of the Lagoan Isles. He designed his own flag, and coat of arms and even released his own banknotes.

However, he must have grown bored with being a Grand Duke as research shows the islands are again unclaimed and uninhabited. Why not plant your own flag there? Just go to Portsmouth, hire a rowing boat, swim or, if it's shallow enough, wade out to your new country and plant your flag.

7. The Other World Kingdom

How about buying a ready-made kingdom set in seven and a half acres of land surrounding a 16th-century chateau in eastern Czechoslovakia? It has its own passports, police force, courts, currency, state flag and national anthem, and can be yours for just 8 million Euros.

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There’s just one slight problem. Despite declaring itself an independent state, the Other World Kingdom has never been recognized by any other country; instead being deemed a private business. Still, it gets away with not paying any taxes to the Czech government and does itself earn taxes from foreigners who visit.

Originally it was established as a resort for practitioners of BDSM, femdom and other adult practices and styled itself as a matriarchy ruled by Queen Patricia I, an absolute monarch who had the power to amend laws and was the “Sublime Supreme Administrator.”

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After ten years it closed and was put up for sale with the suggestion that it was suitable for the development of a hotel complex. Currently, it’s still available.

6. Ailsa Crag

If you can’t be a king how about settling for Lord of the Isles? All it would cost is £1.5m. That’s the price of Ailsa Craig, a 220-acre volcanic plug that forms a small island halfway between Scotland and Ireland that rises to 1100 feet above sea level.

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Though you could buy it from its current owner, nobody currently lives there, and it has remained unclaimed for a long time. There would be nothing stopping an imperialist vigilante from sailing over there and declaring a state of independence.

Sure, they'd be the only resident but it's not like anyone would care enough to declare war as its current owner, Archibald Kennedy, passed away in 2015. The island is home to a ruined 16th-century castle, a cottage, a lighthouse, and 36,000 pairs of breeding gannets; one of the world’s largest colonies.

Ailsa Crag castle and lighthouse

However before you rush to buy, it’s worth knowing that any development is strictly controlled by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Still, there is a quarry that will provide you with income. The island is the only place in the world that is home to Red Hone Granite, Common Green Granite, and Blue Hone Granite; the types of granite used to produce the world’s finest curling stones.

Currently, the sole rights to quarrying are owned by a company called Kay’s Curling, but surely as a new owner, you could renegotiate the terms and conditions.

5. The Moon

If you had money, technical expertise and a space rocket you could always establish your own kingdom on the moon. While the 1967 Outer Space Treaty banned countries from owning the moon, it says nothing about any individuals claiming it.

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Although if you did make a claim it would create an interesting legal argument with an American named Dennis M Hope who in 1980 claimed ownership by simply writing a letter to the United Nations that not only claimed the moon but eight other planets.

His letter informed the UN that if they had any objections they should write back to him. To date, the organization hasn’t and so a planetary estate agent was born.

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So far Hope has sold 611 million square acres to people who appreciate the novelty value of owning a bit of the moon. At around $20 per deed, the man’s making serious money out of selling a talking point and a flashy framed certificate.

There’s still plenty of moon and universe left so why not do the same? Write a letter to the U. N. and when they don’t answer begin selling off parcels of lunar land that haven’t been sold yet.

4. Akhzivland

How about becoming ruler of a little plot of land situated on the Mediterranean with ocean views, great weather and fascinating history? Akhzivland is a micro-nation that was once a fishing village deserted by its residents during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In 1952, an ex-army veteran named Eli Avivi moved into one of its deserted houses.

Akhzivland house

In 1970, the Israeli government attempted to bulldoze his house and in protest Eli Avivi founded Akhzivland, establishing a hostel, museum, its own flag and a national anthem. The Israelis weren’t impressed and Avivi was arrested and then released as a judge ruled that a charge of “Creation of a Country Without Permission” didn’t exist.

A compromise was reached and the Israelis agreed to lease the land to Avivi for 99 years, who promptly made himself president for life. They did not rule on Akhzivland’s legal status, although this hasn’t stopped the Israeli Ministry of Tourism from promoting its attractions.

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Avivi died in May 2018 and it’s unclear what will happen to Akhzivland. His widow hopes it becomes a permanent memorial to her husband, whom she described as "the best president ever". So maybe you could make an offer and get the Israeli Government to allow you to take up the lease.

3. The Principality of Sealand

Of course, if you can’t buy a kingdom you could stage an invasion. The Principality of Sealand has been invaded three times in its short history. It’s situated on a disused sea fort built during WWII 13km off the Suffolk Coast.

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In the early 1960s, after being convicted of broadcasting illegally, Roy Bates relocated his radio station there. When the 1967 Broadcasting Act made pirate radio illegal Bates declared the fort to be independent and renamed it the Principality of Sealand.

He never restarted his radio station as running a principality took up most of his time, especially as he had to repel an invasion by members of a rival pirate radio station. The second battle of Sealand occurred in 1978 when a German businessman, who had purchased the title of “Prime Minister for Life”, invaded and held Bates hostage.

The coup d’etat was ended by Bates' son, Prince Roy, an ex-army major, who staged a counter-invasion and captured the businessman’s lawyer, a situation that took a German diplomat to sort out.

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The Principality raises finance by selling titles, issuing stamps and coins, and establishing an offshore internet hosting service. It has its own website and publishes its own online newspaper. Bates died in 2012 when the principality passed to his son Michael who currently lives in Suffolk. So all you need is an invasion plan and The Principality of Sealand could be yours.

2. South Sentinel Island

How about ruling a tropical island in the middle of the Bay of Bengal? White beaches, swaying palm trees, blue waters, and a beautiful forested, coral island. South Sentinel Island is administered by the Indian Government as a protectorate; the Indian Government doesn’t claim the island as a part of India, so in theory it's ripe to land on and declare it your own private kingdom.

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However, it does have a downside: some very unfriendly neighbors. North Sentinel Island, also administered by India, is the home of the Sentinelese, an indigenous race listed as one of the “uncontacted peoples”. As well as living near a Stone Age existence the islanders shun any contact with the outside world to the extent that they have a tendency to kill anyone who attempts to land on the island.

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After a number of deaths, in 1996 the Indian Government banned any contact by the outside world. They didn’t pursue the killers, considering the Sentinelese a sovereign people with the freedom to kill any interlopers. With neighbors like that a tropical kingdom suddenly doesn’t look that appealing.

1. Bir Tawil

Bir Tawil is 800 square miles of desert situated between Egypt and Sudan that, due to territorial disputes, completely fell off the map. It’s on some maps: only Egyptian maps show it belongs to Sudan while Sudanese maps show it to be Egyptian, a situation that means Bir Tawil has the legal status of “Terra Nullius” or nobody’s land.

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Over the years many people have staked their claim to this land but the latest and most unusual was by an American named Jeremiah Heaton who claimed the land in order to make his 6-year-old daughter Emily a real princess. However, instead of being hailed as a doting parent, Jeremia received much criticism on social media accusing him of being a colonialist.

Currently, the land is unclaimed, but if you want to become King there are some facts you need to know. Bir Tawil is a rocky, sandy, desert and one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. It has no population, no coastline, no surface water and no arable soil. Not a lot going for it really.

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I hope you were amazed at these unclaimed lands you can actually rule. If you ever wanted to be a king or queen, you know where to head. Thanks for reading.

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