Global Policy Forum

Experimental States



Picture Credit: Freedom Ship International

Experimental states challenge the traditional conception of the "nation-state." Today people form new "countries" in cyberspace, on small islands and on ships out in the sea, offering citizenships and passports to the "inhabitants." These experimental states provide arenas for trade, tax avoidance, leisure, cyber fantasy, as well as outlets for political discontent. Some countries have even set up embassies in the virtual world of Second Life. Experimental states are increasing in membership and popularity. This page follows this development.



2007 | 2006 | 2004 | Archived

What is Micronationalism? (July 2001)

Internet technology has given rise to thousands of micronations. While most represent a mere hobby or a political simulation, some have ambitions for statehood and recognition. Micronations will not become "real" nations unless they create a culture. (



Second Life Just Like The First (March 2, 2007)

This Der Spiegel piece analyzes the growth of the virtual world Second Life and its accompanying complexities, terming it a "virtual nation-state." The author cites legal questions under consideration by a court in the Netherlands to determine whether virtual child abuse is an offense punishable in courts. The recent rise in the use of the virtual world by politicians and online "terrorists" demonstrates that questions will continue to be raised over how to regulate virtual behavior in the real world.

Sweden Opens Virtual Embassy in Second Life (January 30, 2007)

Sweden has become the first country to open an embassy in Second Life – a virtual world with more than three million registered users. Many corporations have already set up virtual shops in Second Life as a way to test products before releasing them. The Swedish government has said that it believes opening an embassy in the online world will enable it to provide information about the country and will help attract young tourists. (Der Spiegel)

Pirate Bay's Sovereign Ambitions Blasted (January 17, 2007)

The Principality of Sealand, an experimental state located off the coast of the UK, has been put up for sale by its "royal family." As Swedish internet file sharing firm Pirate Bay is trying to purchase the microstate, this OUT-LAW News article argues it will not succeed in its efforts. According to the author, if Pirate Bay acquired Sealand, London would most likely intervene as such an action would transform Sealand from a relatively harmless "nation" into a haven for a company looking to evade copyright laws on pirated software.



Real Learning in a Virtual World (October 5, 2006)

Second Life, an online virtual world, gives subscribers the ability to buy and sell virtual goods such as property and clothing. In addition, the "inhabitants" can give themselves new personalities and have the opportunity to network with other "citizens." Many attribute Second Life's popularity to the unstructured nature of the world which allows people to express themselves and engage in almost any activity imaginable. Second Life even succeeds in the educational realm demonstrated by Harvard University and other colleges, which now offer courses for credit in the virtual environment. (Christian Science Monitor)



The World's First "City at Sea" (February 9, 2004)

Freedom Ship International has made key additions to its corporate management staff, in order to move the company into the next phase – the building of the vessel "Freedom Ship." The vessel will contain "luxurious residential, commercial, and resort communities in an attractive environment."





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