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World’s smallest country is much smaller than you can imagine

People from Sealand would love to have a discussion with you if you believe the Vatican City to be the world’s smallest country.

Despite its proximity to Great Britain, this remarkable sea fort maintains its independence. The man-made platform may be found in the North Sea around 12 kilometres east of Suffolk. The fact that a British family currently dwells there lends credence to this claim.

Just in case you needed further evidence of its autonomy, the tiny nation of Sealand (which has a total land area of less than 0.004 square kilometres) even has its own football team, national anthem, currency, passports, and stamps.

BBC Travel reports that the British government established the principality in 1942 as a military outpost for the navy and army.

It wasn’t until 1956 that the platform, also known as Rough Tower, was finally decommissioned. But in 1966, a man named Paddy Roy Bates took over the tower, and it was the turning point. See, according to LadBible, Paddy required a base from which to operate Radio Essex, his pirate radio station.

He had first set up shop at Knock John, another deserted naval outpost, but was eventually compelled to relocate due to the UK’s Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967, which had the stated aim of shutting down offshore stations.

After a run-in with the law, Paddy proclaimed the fort the Principality of Sealand and moved his family in.

Michael Bates, his son and the current Head of State and Government, also has a cockle fishing business, from which he sends seafood to Spain. In 2012, at age 91, he left this world.

Michael’s wedding in Sealand in 1978 took place in a helicopter, making it one of the most unusual weddings ever.

Nonetheless, Sealand has its share of problems, such as hostage crises and border wars, like many other countries.

In 1968, when the British Navy was deployed to destroy any remaining forts in international seas, Sealand fired defensive warning shots at the approaching ships.

Alexander Achenbach, the self-proclaimed former prime minister of Sealand, hired a number of German and Dutch mercenaries to launch an attack on Sealand in 1978, when Roy and his wife were vacationing in Austria.

Although Michael was a prisoner, he was able to retake Sealand and apprehend Alexander and the mercenaries with the use of weapons hidden on the platform. It’s no surprise that getting to Sealand can be challenging, and most visits are banned at this time.

If you do decide to go, though, you may be disappointed. There isn’t a huge variety of places to stay or eat.

Even if you really want to go to Sealand, the chances of getting a visa approved are rather low.

The official government website declares: “Due to the political climate and other factors, visits to the Principality of Sealand are regularly denied. So, the visa application queue is currently closed.”