The Republic Of Molossia: A 'Benevolent Dictatorship' Located In Nevada

Not every country in the world is as vast and expansive as the United States. Even some of the larger European countries are comparatively small when viewed compared to the U.S.; Germany, for example, has been a dominant factor in two world wars but is geographically about the size of the U.S. state of Montana (per Viatravelers). Elsewhere in Europe are countries geographically smaller than a Midwestern county, including Vatican City (the smallest country in the world, both geographically and population-wise), San Marino, and Monaco.

However, across the world are even smaller countries, but they lack any sort of international recognition. And depending upon your point of view, they are jokes writ large, the results of political disputes, or, as was the case with the Conch Republic, a bit of both (more on that later). There is, in fact, another such microstate here in the U.S., and it's not in Florida, but Nevada. Unlike the Conch Republic situation, which was mostly resolved several decades ago, the Republic of Molossia is still a thing. According to Insider, it consists of a single acre in Nevada, and its entire population consists of one man and his family.

What Even Makes A Country A Country?

Before getting too deeply into the story of Molossia and why it's a country but at the same time isn't one, it bears taking a look at what makes a country a country. And as it turns out, the answer is far from simple. Back in 1990, question-and-answer columnist Cecil Adams wrote about this topic for his newspaper column, The Straight Dope. Adams noted that the simplest and most straightforward way of making a country a country is though international recognition; viz, if other countries recognize you as a country, then you're a country. As you can see, however, this is problematic for several reasons, including philosophically. As Adams writes, "If you look like a nation and act like a nation, why should nonrecognition by a bunch of foreigners prevent you from actually being a nation?"

So how to even get considered as a nation? Adams boiled it down to four key points: defined territory (an island, a plot of land mapped out geographically with defined borders, etc.), permanent population, a government, and the ability to enter into relations with other countries. Molossia checks off three (and maybe four) of those boxes.

Kevin Baugh Creates Molossia

Back in 1977, 15-year-old Kevin Baugh and a buddy saw a movie, "The Mouse That Roared," in which a tiny (and fictional) nation wages war against the U.S. (via Insider). The idea stuck with Baugh. That year, the two lads "established" their own micronation, whose entire territory consisted of a house in suburban Portland.

Over the years, both men pursued other things, and Baugh's partner completely lost interest. But in the 1990s, when the internet started becoming ubiquitous in American homes, Baugh — now an adult man who owned some land in rural Nevada — wanted to revisit his idea to start his own country. "The internet came along, and I was able to see that other people created their own countries. So I took Molossia from just being on paper to having our own website," he said. And indeed, that website is still up and running and even offers a message from "His Excellency, The President of Molossia." Visitors can also use the website to book tours and buy merchandise.

Molossia Is three-quarters of a country

Remember a few paragraphs ago when we mentioned that Cecil Adams had boiled down the requirements for a country into four bullet points? Molossia checks off three of them. In terms of defined territory, Molossia consists of an acre or so in Nevada, according to Insider (Travel Nevada says it's 6.3 acres, although that website notes that some of Molossia's claims, such as part of the surface of Venus, are a bit far-fetched). Further, since he undoubtedly pays property taxes on his land, it's almost a certainty that the "borders" of his "country" are written down on paper, locked away in some filing cabinet. In terms of permanent population, the "country" has 35 citizens, all of whom are related to Baugh, save for his three dogs, who are also included in the "country's" population. In terms of government, there's Baugh and only Baugh; per Insider, he styles himself the country's "benevolent dictator."

Of course, on the fourth of Adams' points — the capacity to enter into relations with other countries — Molossia falls apart completely. The "country" doesn't maintain any relations with other countries, and all of the "citizens" pay federal, state, and local taxes. All of its "citizens" are also dual U.S.-Molossia citizens.

This Is All A Big Joke, Right?

No one knows Kevin Baugh's motivations except Kevin Baugh, so he may very well be genuinely keen to have Molossia recognized as its own country and perhaps someday put on a map. But in a larger sense, the way Baugh and Molossia present their country certainly shows that tongues are firmly planted in cheeks. For example, the country's currency is the valora, and its value is based not on exchange rates but on the value of chocolate chip cookie dough (via Insider). Baugh also told the publication that his country has its own measurement system and its own time zone. "I can pass whatever laws I want as long as I don't offend the bigger country around me," he said, referring to the United States. "You can have your own money, your own stamps, your own whatever ... It's really fun," he admitted. And of course, Baugh refers to himself as "His Excellency," as he does on Molossia's website.

Molossia has also been involved in a war, of a sort. As Vice reports, the country has been at war with East Germany since 1983, the East Germans' ignorance of this conflict notwithstanding. And due to a failure to dot all of the i's and cross all of the t's when East Germany fell, a small Caribbean island is considered, by Baugh anyway, part of East Germany. And Molossia is still at war with them.

Not All Micronations Are Jokes

Not every micronation (there are at least 67 of them, according to Insider) is (entirely) a joke. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, for example, consists entirely of a single building in Rome, according to The Straight Dope. According to the organization's website, the Catholic religious order goes back 1,000 years and "has diplomatic relations with over 100 states and the European Union, and permanent observer status at the United Nations."

Sealand came about in the 1960s when a man occupied an abandoned British fortification in the North Sea and decided to turn it into a country. According to Wired, there was an international incident of sorts when British workers got too close, and a "citizen" fired warning shots, which got him summoned to a British court. Elsewhere, Hutt River Province in Australia came about in 1970 after an Australian farmer "seceded" from the country over a dispute about farming regulations, according to CNN.

Even the U.S. has a micronation. The Conch Republic (its flag is depicted above) began in 1982 when the city of Key West and the U.S. Border Patrol got into a dispute. The whole thing was a joke, but it "exists" today as a source of pride on the island, as well as the basis for merchandise such as T-shirts and flags.