By Tui Benjamin
Tourists can now spend the night in Australia’s smallest COUNTRY – a self-declared ‘empire’ ruled by an emperor and just 0.76 square kilometres in size.
Founder of the Empire of Atlantium George Cruickshank – also known as Imperial Majesty George II, emperor and first among equals – has now opened the borders of Australia’s smallest micronation to guests.
The global sovereign state was founded in November 1981 with its ceremonial capital, Concordia, located within a small patch of land known as the Province of Aurora in the Lachlan River valley, New South Wales, approximately 300km south west of Sydney.
And thanks to Airbnb, visitors can now stay in the global sovereign state’s official Government House building from just $76 AUD (£45) a night.
Commercial sales manager George, 50, who lives in Marrickville, Sydney, said: “My parents raised me with the idea that in Australia with the right attitude, hard work and luck it was possible for people to pretty much achieve anything.
“They said to me ‘if you do not like the way the world is, you should do something about it’.
“I think they thought I would join a political party but instead I started Atlantium – and I think they respect that achievement.
“We set up our own country as an example to the rest of the world – and thousands of people around the globe have found this idea resonated with them.
“With the advance of the web we had thousands and thousands of citizen applications – and it has never really stopped.
“Now tourists visit from all over the world – we are picking up momentum all the time.
“The Province of Aurora is just a beautiful location filled with Australian native wildlife. It is not very far from civilisation, but you might as well be on a different continent.
“Atlantium is a global sovereign state invested in its citizens rather than in a particular territory but having a physical territory with a government house, pyramid and monuments is important for people to be able to conceptualise the idea.”
A micronation is a country which has declared independence from its host nation and George said he initially founded Atlantium as a 15-year-old in the aftermath of the Cold War to give the rest of the world an example of how a globalised planet could function.
Initially the country’s only citizens were George, his teenage cousins and several university friends and its first territory was in a corner of his mum’s back yard in Sydney.
Atlantium’s current physical presence in Concordia, the global capital, is situated within the extraterritorial pastoral estate known as the Province of Aurora.
The country moved there when George acquired the patch of land in 2007 and is twice the size of the Vatican City and half the size of Monaco.
Atlantium has nearly 4,000 citizens in more than 110 countries including Indonesia, Brazil, Russia and Nepal and has its own coins, bank notes, postal system and national anthem.
Since George opened Concordia’s capital to guests three years ago there have been dozens of curious visitors – and now thanks to Airbnb that number is continuing to rapidly rise.
The patch of land is completely off the Australian grid with solar panels providing electricity, a waterless composting toilet, woodfired heating and a gas fridge, stove and BBQ.
Visitors get to stay in the Government House – known as the Domus Aurea (the Golden House) – in the simple but comfortable surrounds of a 10 by three metre one-room cabin.
On the site there is also a post office, what is believed to be the only pyramid in Australia and an assortment of other monuments and buildings.
George greets guests in full regalia if they request that and the global civil society’s base is also the perfect getaway for visitors looking for a break from technology as it is an internet black spot with limited mobile phone coverage.
Atlantium supports assisted suicide, marriage equality, abortion rights and unrestricted global freedom of movement.
George, who plans to have an official coronation in the next few years, said: “We think we are the only country in the world which has combined the best parts of a monarchy and a republic.
“People respond better and are less threatened by politics if it is presented with a smile on your face and your tongue in your cheek.
“There is a serious message there, but it is presented in an approachable manner. I do my best not to be a pompous a*se, and people do respond to that.
“That thousands of people around the world would listen to what began as the adolescent dream of teenager from a working class background in Sydney is quite something and I feel very fortunate.”
To stay in the Empire of Atlantium: go here.