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Sealand - the World's Smallest Country

Sealand - the World's Smallest Country

Sealand claims to be the smallest country on the planet, measuring about 43,000 square feet — less than the size of a football field.

The Principality of Sealand, or Sealand, is a micronation that claims Roughs Tower, an offshore platform in the North Sea about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) off the coast of Suffolk, England as its territory.

During World War II, Sealand was used as an anti-aircraft gun platform built by the British government to protect England's coast from German mine-laying aircraft. However, in 1967, a British man named Paddy Roy Bates decided to seize control of the fort and declare it a sovereign state.

The Roughs Tower remained operational after the war but was decommissioned by the Royal Navy in 1956.

In August 1965, pirate radio broadcasters Jack Moore and his daughter Jane occupied it with establishing a base for the pirate station "Radio Caroline." However, it could not last much longer, as Major Paddy Roy Bates occupied the tower in 1967 by evicting the pirate broadcasters using legal means.

Former British Army Major Paddy Roy Bates and his wife, Joan, declared it a state in 1967. Its five-decade history has been marred by court battles, international intrigue, hostage situations, territorial disputes, and helicopter battles.

During Bates' absence in 1978, a German man named Alexander Achenbach claiming to be the "Prime Minister of Sealand" attempted to seize control of the island. Bates retook the island via helicopter attack and imprisoned the German. First, Germany attempted to negotiate with the United Kingdom, which refused to recognize Sealand as a country. The Germans then directly negotiated with Bates, and their countryman was returned after a few weeks. This encounter lends credence to Bates' claim that Sealand is a nation, as Germany acknowledged them during negotiations.

Sealand now has its constitution, flag, and official motto, E Mare, Libertas, which translates as "From the sea, freedom."

Sealand has been a sovereign independent state since 1967. The Bates family rules the small state as hereditary royal rulers, with each member holding their royal title. Sealand is governed by its constitution, consisting of a preamble and seven articles. Following the declaration of independence, the founding Bates family raised the Sealand flag, promising freedom and justice to all who lived beneath it.

Sealand's existence, however, was still in jeopardy. Sealand's founding family is still very much involved in its operations. Now, Prince Michael Bates, son of Roy Bates, runs Sealand from his mainland home in Essex. 

However, Paddy Roy Bates died in 2012, and his wife Joan Bates died in 2016.

Sealand has never been acknowledged by the British government or any other international organization. Only 106 people have been granted "citizenship," most of whom are friends of the couple. And, while the Bates used to live on the platform on an irregular basis, it is now maintained by a rotating group of caretakers.

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