National treasure

Meet the citizens of Molossia, a micronation near Dayton

His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh and Chief Constable Alexis of Molossia.

His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh and Chief Constable Alexis of Molossia.

Photo/Anna Hart

When I found out there was a man in Dayton, Nevada, claiming to be president of his own nation, I was more than a little dubious. But that all changed when I travelled to Molossia on a chilly Friday afternoon.

Since I’ve never met with a president of a nation before, I was a little nervous.

But as it turns out, His Excellency President Grand Admiral Colonel Doctor Kevin Baugh, President and Raïs of Molossia, Protector of the Nation and Guardian of the People and his daughter, Alexis, the Chief Constable and head of Molossian law enforcement, were warm hosts and gave me a private lesson on the history of their homeland.

In 1977, 15-year-old Kevin Baugh became Prime Minister of the Grand Republic of Vuldstein under the reign of his friend, King James I. While the Grand Republic fell into inactivity when its king switched schools, Prime Minister Baugh carried on the legacy—for 21 years. At that point, the Grand Republic was reborn as Molossia, on May 26, 1988.

Presently, Molossia is under martial law and has several strict bans on things like firearms, drugs, tobacco, catfish, missionaries and salesmen, and incandescent light bulbs. But in terms of social policies, the country is surprisingly progressive, enacting laws in regards to environmental conservation, protection of free speech, equal opportunity requirements, etc. Same-sex marriage has even been legal in the country since 2000.

Molossia has a population of 28, 22 of whom are human. Of those 22, only five live within Molossian borders, while the rest live outside the country as expatriates.

At the moment, becoming an official citizen of Molossia is restricted, but may be gained through marriage of a current Molossian resident. According to President Baugh, some have tried to catch the eye of the Chief Constable Alexis, but she’s very tough (and also 12). The requirements for citizenship do seem to be more lenient for dogs, however. As of late, there are six canine citizens. It should be noted that citizenship is not open to cats, because it’s impossible to know where their loyalties lie.

Birth of a nation

But here is what everyone wants to know: Is Molossia even a real nation? In truth, it depends on who you ask.

In 1933, an international conference resulted in the creation of a treaty called the Montevideo Convention. This treaty, along with a myriad of other policies, defined four main criteria to qualify for official statehood. That state would need a permanent population, a government, a defined territory and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

According to these guidelines, Molossia fits the bill. The official permanent population located in the borders is even nearly 50 percent human. There is a set governmental structure, headed by President Baugh. Molossia has a clear 1.3 acre home territory in Nevada, and there is even a Molossian Foreign Ministry eagerly awaiting the opportunity to handle diplomatic negotiations. But that doesn’t mean that any of the major nations have taken Molossia seriously.

This is because, in a staggering display of irony, according to the United States government, you apparently cannot simply walk onto a piece of land, stick a flag on it and claim it as your country.

Molossia is a micronation, which is basically an entity that claims to be an independent state or nation but is not officially recognized as such.

Even though it isn’t formally acknowledged as a country, that doesn’t stop its citizens from taking itself seriously—sort of. Molossia is structured and runs like a small country. It has its own government agencies, like its Institute for Volcanology, a national park service, and a national bank—and there are even physical buildings for some of them on the territory as well.

The nation is small but it boasts a center for customs, a post office, a general store, a bank and a tiki bar, along with a number of physical monuments. Molossia even has a small pad as part of its own air and space program. (Side note: They let me fly an air rocket and even gave me a certificate that says I’m a Molossian space cadet.)

Economically, the republic is small, supplemented largely by income garnered by adult citizens commuting to the United States for work. However, the country does produce goods, its main exports being Cinderella stamps as well as its own currency and a line of handmade soaps.

Tourism is one of Molossia’s main industries, and the nation welcomes visitors. Anyone may visit during the tourism season, which runs April 15 to October 15. Each visitor must be escorted during their stay in Molossia and must provide the government of Molossia with notice of intent to enter into the country at least two weeks prior to arrival.

A distinct cultural character in Molossia has been developed in the decades since its establishment. In sum, it is a culture defined by rich diversity, consisting of a blend of customs unique to Molossia, and other traditions that pay homage to a number of other global civilizations.

Molossia is active in foreign relations, mostly with other micronations. This past summer President Baugh hosted an intermicronational conference and get-together attended by delegates from 17 different micronations.

Though Molossia’s foreign policy is generally one of peace, Molossia has been a country accustomed to war, as this past November marked Molossia’s 32nd year at war with East Germany.

As the story goes, the war with East Germany began in 1983 as current Molossian President Kevin Baugh was still acting in his capacity as prime minister of the Grand Republic of Vuldstein was stationed in West Germany with the United States Army. Though the reasons for the beginning of the war have mostly faded into obscurity, disruption of a night’s sleep is recognized as a definite factor.

While the reunification of Germany in 1990 supposedly dissolved East Germany, the Ernst Thälmann Island carries on the sordid torch. Originally a Cuban island named Cayo Blanco del Sur, it was renamed in 1972 after an East German communist leader.

Both Germany and Cuba would have you believe that this act of renaming was merely “symbolic” and that the territory was never actually transferred. His Excellency President Baugh isn’t fooled.

“The island was never mentioned during the treaty to reunite Germany. And now the island is completely uninhabited, so there’s no one to negotiate peace with—that is, unless you count iguanas,” stated President Baugh.

Up to this point, the war has waged unfought, but that doesn’t stop Molossia from preparing, as the landlocked nation is equipped with a national navy.

“We have a fleet of six inflatable canoes that we sometimes practice maneuvers with in Lake Tahoe,” said President Baugh. “If East Germany comes, we could definitely fend them off.”

In essence, Molossia is the childhood game of claiming your room to be your own country taken to the nth degree. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not. For now, I’ll go with eccentric.

“All my friends think [Molossia] is weird and half of them don’t believe me,” said Chief Constable Alexis. “It is weird. But it’s fun. It’s a weird fun, and I like it.”