A micronation is an entity intended to replace, resemble, mock, or exist on equal footing with recognised independent state. Some micronations are created with serious intent, while others exist as a hobby or stunt.
The term 'micronation' literally means "small nation". It is a neologism originating in the mid-1990s to describe the many thousands of small unrecognised state-like entities that have mostly arisen since that time. It is generally accepted that the term was invented by Robert Ben Madison.
The term has since also come to be used retrospectively to refer to earlier unrecognised entities, some of which date to as far back as the 19th century. Supporters of micronations use the term "macronation" for any UN-recognized sovereign nation-state.
Micronations generally have a number of common features, although these may vary widely. They may have a structure similar to established sovereign states, including territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens, albeit on a much smaller scale. Micronations are often quite small, in both their claimed territory and claimed populations — although there are some exceptions to this rule, with different micronations having different methods of citizenship. Micronations may also issue formal instruments such as postage stamps, coins, banknotes and passports, and bestow honours and titles of nobility.
A criterion which distinguishes micronations from imaginary countries, eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, sects, and residential community associations, is that these entities do not usually seek to be recognised as sovereign.
The Montevideo Convention was one attempt to create a legal definition distinguishing between states and non-states. Some micronations meet this definition, while some do not, and others reject the Convention altogether.
The academic study of micronations and microstates is known as micropatrology, and the hobby of establishing and operating micronations is known as micronationalism.
Micronations have been known to be termed as a 'cybernation', 'fantasy country', 'model country (or nation)', 'new country project', 'pseudonation', 'counternation', 'ephemeral state', 'online nation' and many other variants.
Micronations may also be classified, although many different systems are used across the micronational world. One of the most commonly used systems is the Boodlesmyth-Tallini System of Cclassification.