Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Magnificent Micronations: Part III - Forvik

What sort of man would unilaterally declare the small island of Forvik in the Shetlands, far to the north of Scotland,  independent of the United Kingdom, demand British Crown Dependency for his new domain, and then begin trying to create a micro-treasury by inviting oil and gas companies to explore his miniscule territorial waters? A man who comes from Cunningsburgh, that's who (cue Blackadder jokes now)!

In 2008, Stuart Hill, a Shetland resident, declared Forvik independent on the basis that in 1469 the island was pawned by Christian I of Denmark/Norway to King James III of Scotland, as collateral for a loan to help pay Christian's daughter's dowry. As the loan was never repaid (according to Hill) Forvik remains in constitutional limbo - British, but not in the United Kingdom, similar in status to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

Pretty crazy, eh? Oh, but I haven't told you how Hill, an Englishman, came to be in the Shetlands in the first place...

He was shipwrecked.

While trying to circumnavigate Britain in his converted row-boat "Maximum Exposure".

Earning himself the nickname "Captain Calamity".

Having decided that, possibly, a life on the ocean wave was not for him, Hill settled on the Shetlands. In 2008, Hill claims, he was gifted the island by Shetland native Marc King (who possibly told Hill it was an "unsinkable row-boat"). However, King denies this, claiming he actually agreed to sell the island to Hill, who never paid, meaning King is rightful owner and sovereign of Forvik. That said, I suspect the weight of legal argument is with Hill, who possesses a document granting him the island, signed by King with that most august of imprimaturs - a smiley face.

Having sailed from a far away land to lay claim to his rightful domain, Hill now understandably seeks to make good on his hard work. There is the ubiquitous "buy citizenship in a micronation" offer, now with a recession-busting 90% discount - tell your friends! More intriguing is Hill's efforts to get “interested parties able to enter into serious negotiations” to invest in building an oil rig off Forvik.

As Hill notes "the piece of seabed that I am claiming is certainly large enough to put an oil rig on"; sadly not mentioning whether there is actually any oil under the seabed. That said, this guy survived a shipwreck, managed to have someone gift him an island, and is now thumbing his nose at the UK government. You just know he is going to luck-out! Buy your citizenship now at this low, low price!

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