Place Less Than 10 Miles From UK Coast Claims To Be Its Own Country With Own Passport
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If you think you'd have to travel to the other side of the world to visit the most remote countries, you've clearly never heard of Sealand.
This offshore sea fort sits just 7.5 miles off the coast of Suffolk, and despite being a) so close to the UK and b) a manmade platform, it claims to be a nation of its own.
It has its own national flag and anthem, a currency, stamps and passports, and just in case you weren't convinced of its sovereignty, there's even a Sealand football team.
The so-called micronation exists on HM Fort Roughs, one of several World War II sea forts built to guard the nearby port.
Also known as Rough Tower, the platform was used for various purposes until 1956 when it was evacuated and left to the elements.
However, this all changed in 1966 when a man named Paddy Roy Bates took over the tower. You see, Paddy needed somewhere to run his pirate radio station, Radio Essex.
Although he initially set up camp on Knock John, another abandoned naval fort, he had to jump ship – so to speak – after the UK introduced the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967, with the intention of shutting down offshore stations.
Following a run-in with the law, Paddy announced the fort to be the Principality of Sealand, and not long after his family moved in.
Today, the country remains, with a population of approximately 27 people – although the figures were last recorded back in 2002 so this has likely changed since then.
In 2020, the BBC spoke to the current leader of Sealand and Paddy's son, Prince Michael. Now, he spends most of his time on the mainland with his family, but he's got plenty of tales about his childhood in what is considered to be one of the world's smallest countries.
“I was only 14 when I first came out during my school summer holidays to help my dad, and I thought it’d only be a six-week adventure,” he told the outlet.
“I certainly didn’t think it’d be a story that’d carry on for 50-odd years. It was a strange upbringing, as sometimes we stayed for months on end, waiting for the boat to bring supplies from the mainland.
"I’d look out at the horizon and all I could see from morning to night was the North Sea.”
He explained that the his dad never set out to start his own country, adding: “He was principally offended by the UK government wanting to close his pirate radio station. And ever since, we’ve fought the British government all the way – and won."
Despite not being formally recognised as an official country, Michael says Sealand 'still maintains its independence', and it continues to be inhabited by numerous residents, including two full-time security guards.
People from all around the continue to email the micronation's officials requesting to be citizens in a bid to join Sealand and leave behind the laws of the land.
“We don’t live in a society where people like being told what to do, and everybody loves the idea of liberty and freedom from government," concluded Michael.
"The world needs inspiring territories like us – and there aren’t many places like this that exist.”