- Not to be confused with Zeeland.
|Principality of Sealand|
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The Principality of Sealand, or simply Sealand, is a micronation established on HM Fort Roughs, a former Maunsell Sea Fort located in the North Sea 7 miles (13 kilometers) off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom. Currently, Sealand is not officially recognized by any established sovereign state.
HM Fort Roughs was established by the United Kingdom in 1943, primarily for defense against the Germans during World War II. With the intentions of setting up his own pirate radio station on the former fort, Paddy Roy Bates (1921–2012), an English subject, seized it from a competing group of pirate broadcasters on September 2, 1967. It was then occupied by his family and associates. Bates introduced a constitution for the Principality of Sealand in 1975, followed by a flag, national anthem, currency, and passports.
Alexander Achenbach, who described himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, hired several German and Dutch mercenaries to initiate an attack on the self-proclaimed nation while Bates and his wife were in England during August 1978. Using speedboats and helicopters, the mercenaries stormed the fort and took Bates' son Michael (1952–) hostage. Bates was eventually able to retake the tower and subdue Achenbach and the mercenaries. Achenbach, an official of the Principality of Sealand hailing from Germany, was charged with treason and was imprisoned until he could pay DM75,000. The governments of the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany petitioned the British government for Achenbach's release, but the United Kingdom claimed they had no control over the matter because the fort was declared outside of British jurisdiction. Germany then sent a diplomat from its embassy in London to the tower. After weeks of negotiations, Bates released Achenbach and subsequently claimed that the diplomat's visit constituted de facto recognition from Germany.
Following his release, Achenbach established a "government in exile", commonly referred to as the Sealand Rebel Government or Sealandic Rebel Government. Achenbach's successor, Johannes Seiger, continues to claim that he is Sealand's legitimate ruling authority.
The Principality of Sealand has become involved in several commercial operations, such as the issuing of coins and postage stamps. In 2000, Sealand received worldwide publicity following the establishment of a new data haven called HavenCo on Roughs Tower. However, Ryan Lackey (1979–), HavenCo's founder, subsequently quit, claiming that he had lost all the money he had invested in the venture. HavenCo's operations ceased without an explanation in November 2008, and following its collapse, the government of Sealand began the process of building an online casino, which is expected to open some point in late 2012. As of February 11, 2007, Sealand has been taking bookings for tourist visits. Camouflage passports of Sealand were manufactured and sold by a Spanish-based organization that is believed to be associated with the Sealand Rebel Government. These passports, which the Bates family claims they did not authorize, were linked to several high-profile crimes, and eventually became revoked by Roy Bates in 1997.
- Main article: Sealand dollar
The Principality of Sealand, like many other micronations, issues a physical "currency" that consists solely of coins. These coins, denominated in dollars, first arose in 1972, and issues were later made under authorization of the Bates family in the years 1975, 1977, 1994, and 2013. Additionally, the Sealand Rebel Government under "Prime Minister" Johannes Seiger issued a single coin in 1991. The Sealand dollar is deemed to be at parity with the United States dollar; however, these coins are normally considered as souvenirs or "rounds" because they are not circulated anywhere and are not accepted by any country. These collector pieces are currently listed in Krause's Unusual World Coins.