In the aftermath of Brexit and the unexpected US presidential race, it’s tempting to daydream of leaving civilisation and running off to Mars. Or you could just found your own country, as one man has done. Sadly, it’s not really working out for him.
Vit Jedlicka planted a flag on unclaimed land between Serbia and Croatia, called it the “beloved country”, and was voted president by two friends and his girlfriend.
The only problem is, he’s banned from setting foot in it.
Jedlicka can sit on a boat on the Danube, but if he were to get off and attempt to get to his country, Liberland, the Croatian river police would likely arrest him.
Jedlicka has signed up nearly half a million potential citizens online for his seven sq km of marshland – where there would be no compulsory taxes or gun control, or laws on smoking marijuana or speed limits, and Bitcoins would be the currency.
And Jedlicka told the Independentthat the country’s main export would be its own national beer.
But despite having a willing population, diplomatic passports and appointed ministers and foreign representatives, no one has been able to occupy the country.
This is because Liberland was once part of Serbia, but after the Yugoslav civil war it was offered to Croatia. Taking Liberland would have meant Croatia accepting new, smaller boarders, so it declined.
Since planting his flag on Liberland in the summer of 2015, Jedlicka has been arrested and fined for trying to cross into Liberland from Croatia, and has now been banned from Croatia.
He now calls a houseboat on the Danube his temporary home, which also serves as an office and hotel for diplomats.
Journalist Jolyon Jenkins went to visit Jedlicka, and despite the president's optimism for the future, he wasn't quite as enthusiastic.
Jenkins found that his (now former) foreign minister Jose Miguel Maschietto had made up a web of lies about his career.