About 250,000 people have applied for citizenship in Liberland in less than two weeks, Vit Jedlicka, president of Liberland, told the Czech news agency CTK on Tuesday.
However, some of these potential Liberlanders may be in for a shock. For one thing, it's unclear at the time of writing whether the country they are applying for citizenship in really exists at all.
If it does, it would be Europe's newest nation. Jedlicka proclaimed the Free Republic of Liberland a sovereign state April 13. The Czech politician – known for his Eurosceptic, libertarian views – claimed a disputed area between Croatia and Serbia to make up the state.
Realizing that the land was claimed by no one, Jedlicka claimed the approximately 3 square miles by the Danube river. He set up a Web site, created a flag, a coat of arms, a motto ("To live and let live") and drew up laws and a constitution.
There's even a (suspiciously cinematic sounding) national anthem.
The proposed country would be a libertarian paradise. Taxes would be optional in Liberland and government power severely restricted, Jedlicka told the international press. On the Web site, anyone could apply to be a citizen – providing they do not have a criminal record or a "communist, Nazi or other extremist past."
This idea seems to have captured people's imagination. Liberland and Jedlicka have become an international news story and 110,000 people have liked a Facebook page devoted to the new country.
"I'm coming soon, Liberland," one Facebook user wrote.
Jedlicka is far from the first person to proclaim his own "micronation."Just last year, a man from Virginia claimed an 800-square-mile patch along the border between Egypt and Sudan, and declared it the Kingdom of North Sudan. “I wanted to show my kids I will literally go to the ends of the earth to make their wishes and dreams come true,” self-proclaimed King Jeremiah Heaton told The Post at the time.
There's the longstanding case of Sealand, set up on a World War II-era offshore platform in the North Sea which declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1967. No other sovereign state has ever recognized Sealand, but decades later, the country retains its own coins, stamps and identification documents – it even has its own soccer team.
With most of these self-proclaimed states, there's an element of the absurd. Often, the states seem less of an attempt to make a functioning state than just an attempt at a provocative statement.
Sometimes, they simply seem to be a joke. British journalist Danny Wallace started his own country in his apartment in London in 2005. He named it "Lovely."
Exactly how serious Liberland is is unclear right now. When one group of journalists tried to visit the new country last week, they were turned away by Croatian border police. They were told that a Liberland flag that had been planted at the site has been removed.
And so far, no other state has recognized Liberland. Croatia and Serbia have made no public announcements about their new neighbor. Politicians from further afield don't seem to be taking it seriously. "I've never heard of it," Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman said this weekend when asked about Liberland.
Even if it's not serious or recognized, some applicants for citizens seem hopeful that Liberland could prove an escape from the problems they face in their current countries. In the forums on the official Liberland Web site, users can ask questions in a variety of languages about their theoretical life in the theoretical state. Turkish, English and Arabic seem to be the most popular languages for potential Liberlanders.
"Are there any work in Liberland?" one potential citizen asked last week.