First Trip After Lockdown? Go To A Non-Existent Nation

For anyone planning a trip in the future, maybe it should be to a 1000-year-old empire which no longer exists? Or better yet, head to somewhere that has technically never existed, a breakaway state or a micro-nation–one that doesn’t have UN recognition but where you can collect the stamps, even if you can’t send a postcard.

Go to the Republic of Venice, which no longer exists

Known at the time as la Serenissima, it spanned seven European countries for 1,000 years–Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, and Cyprus–until it ceased to exist in 1797.

Travel across the region, discovering Marco Polo, Galileo Galilei or Casanova with a guidebook to the Republic of Venice by Extinguished Countries, which includes timelines, infographics, maps and itineraries.

Co-founder, Giovanni Vale suggests that historical guidebooks enable people to go slower, question what they’re going through and offer visitors the chance to “take time to go through [these places] with a different eye.” 

Take the example of food. Brudet, a fish stew, exists across the entirety of the Republic of Venice. In Corfu, in Greece, it’s called bourdetto and made with paprika and chillies. In Italy, it’s called brodetto, and is more soupy. And in a small village in Croatia, you’ll find versions containing just eels and frogs. Every country insists its their national dish.

As reported by Atlas Obscura, the company hopes to explore some other pre-existing empires, such as Andalusia, in the south of Spain. It was an Arabic state until Spanish people reconquered it and contains lots of beautiful mosques.

The company funded the first project through an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in March 2020.

Visit Sealand, a micro-nation off the British coast

During World War Two, Britain built sea forts to protect themselves from German forces and what they believed to be an imminent attack, but one of these, Fort Roughs Tower, was outside of Britain’s legal jurisdiction, three miles out to sea.

In 1967, a man called Major Paddy Roy Bates occupied the island fort, essentially a 550-square-meter metal platform, and declared it a sovereign principality, naming it Sealand.

Atlas Obscura reported that since then, his family and visitors have occupied it, as its royal family, printing passports, money and even firing at the British Navy. You can even collect the stamps.

In 1978, a German citizen took over the island while the family was on holiday, declaring himself the prime minister. Bates won back control of the fort after a helicopter attack and took the German prisoner–he was eventually released after talks between Bates and the German government (the British government refused to enter into negotiations).

There are lots of other micro-nations around the world–quirks of fate or historical and administrative errors, whether they be islands in Portugal, Antartica or South Korea. And all of them have been suffering under Covid-19 in different ways. Newsweek reported on U.S. micro-nations response to the pandemic in April.

Travel to an unrecognised nation like Abkhazia or Nagorno-Karabakh

As reported by CNN, to be a recognised nation you need a permanent population, a defined territory, border controls and the ability to govern independently. Then you must also gain recognition from the United Nations.

Guilherme Canever, a Brazilian author traveled to 16 unrecognised nations between 2009 and 2014. Canever started with Somaliland, a breakaway from Somali, in the horn of Africa.

Many are contentious, like Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia in 2008. It is backed by Russia and more than 100 other countries (including the International Olympic Committee) but isn’t technically a country because the UN doesn’t think so. Its tourism is developing and rose in 2018 by 19%.

Abkhazia is a breakaway from Georgia on the Black Sea and gets lots of Russian tourists every year, touring over 200 km of coastline. To go, you must email them and they will send you a set time when you can enter to pick up your visa.

Or visit beautiful Nagorno-Karabakh (also called the Republic of Artsakh), full of mountains and pretty squares, which lies between Armenia and Azerbaijan and is under dispute by both. Tourists can reportedly travel around safely from the Armenian side, visiting the many ancient temples.