Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Barely There

Barely there??  I might be misleading you a little, unless you would enjoy this (fictional) cable access show:

A Sheldon Cooper Production

because we're talking geopolitical oddities, not Miami Beach swimwear.  I understand if you're disappointed.

There are over 200 sovereign states in the world, but it's not easy to establish one.  Any number of them have almost, but not quite, come into being or have and lasted as little as seven hours.  You're curious about that one, mmm?  Some of these declared nations have pretty amusing stories behind them, but this one does not.  During the Nigerian civil war of 1967 - 1970, the southeastern region of Biafra tried to secede, due to extreme ethnic differences, from Nigeria, and set up a buffer puppet state next door named the Republic of Benin on September 19, 1967 during a pause in the advance of the Federal forces.  Biafra itself was recognized by some other states worldwide, but there was little time for that in the case of Benin.

The second shortest life for a country was 24 hours, in the case of Carpatho-Ukraine, which was once the far eastern end of Czechoslovakia.  It and Slovakia were autonomous after the Munich Agreement of September 1938, but soon each region lost their southern thirds to Hungary.  On March 14 and 15, Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine declared their independence but Hungary invaded knowing it had the full support of the Axis powers; both were quickly conquered and annexed.  Carpatho-Ukraine surprisingly did have a short constitution, a president and a cabinet in that day; they fled to Romania when the cause was lost.  The Soviets took the Carpatho region from Hungary and attached it to its Ukraine in early 1945, where it stays.

American history students learn of the short-lived Vermont, Texas and California republics, and the proposed one of Franklin, but who has ever heard of the Republic of Madawaska of that of Indian Stream?  They did exist, and the former's flag still flies in the Edmunston (New Brunswick) city hall.  Gone, but not forgotten.

The woodsy Republic's flag

The name means "porcupine place" in a local Algonquin language, and Madawaska consisted of parts of New Brunswick, Maine and Quebec.  The border between the new United States and still-British Canada weas a little vague in backwoods areas after the Treaty of Paris (1783), allowing locals to do things like declaring their own countries, which one John Baker did in 1827.  The authorities to the north didn't much appreciate that, and arrested, fined and jailed him for the cheekiness.  Not really organized as a country, it nonetheless lasted until 1842, when a treaty settled the border and put and end to Madawaska and the Republic of Indian Stream also.

Indian Stream is located in the north of New Hampshire on the border with Quebec, and was home to 300 people in their own 291-square-mile country from 1832 until 1835.  It was more of a state than its neighbor in that it had an elected government and constitution; President: Luther Parker.  The reason for declaring its independence was the annoyance of both British and U.S. officials coming by to collect taxes.  A plague on both your houses, the backwoodsmen (and women) said!  But after a big dustup over its expedition into Canada to free one of their brethern imprisoned there over debt, the Indian Stream citizens elected to join the United States and cease their contrariness.  But it took a long time for the Census and maps to catch up with the Republic's formal end.

The Sahrawi people and flag

There are many more, like declared island nations (one on a WWII North Sea gun platform sort of serving as an island) no one recognizes but no one bothers about; an area of 800 square miles between Egypt and Sudan (Bir Tawil) that is unpopulated and claimed by neither country (you can bet it would be if there were oil present), and a partially recognized country that's a slice of the former Spanish Sahara bordering Algeria in northwest Africa (the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic), whose governmental business is conducted from a refugee camp.  It does have a wonderfully titled national anthem that could have come from one of those early 20th century films and operas set in exotic lands:  "O Sons of the Sahara." 

1 comment:

  1. Sew your own flag and raise it high and declare yourself a liberated nation. Of course you will have to tax yourself to pay for all the paperwork.