The Principality of Sealand is an unrecognised entity, located on HM Fort Roughs, a former Second World War Maunsell Sea Fort in the North Sea 13 kilometres off the coast of Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.
Since 1967 the facility has been occupied by family and associates of Paddy Roy Bates, who claim that it is an independent sovereign state. Bates seized it from a group of pirate radio broadcasters in 1967.
Although Roy Bates claimed it is de facto recognised by the United Kingdom (after an English court ruled it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand as territorial water limitations were defined at that time) this action does not constitute de jure recognition.
In 1987, the UK extended its territorial waters from three to twelve miles. Sealand now sits inside waters that Britain claims as its territory.
The United Kingdom is one of 162 states to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (in force since 1994), which states in part V, article 60, that: “Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands. They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.”
Sealand has been involved in several commercial operations, including the issuing of coins and postage stamps and the establishment of an offshore Internet hosting facility, or “data haven”.
In January 2007, The Pirate Bay attempted to purchase Sealand after harsher copyright measures in Sweden forced them to look for a base of operations elsewhere.
After HavenCo’s unexpected collapse, Sealand’s government began the process of building an online casino. The casino is expected to open by the end of 2012, and would employ about 30 staff members to work in Sealand.
Even Sealand has its share of military conflicts, however:
One of his subjects was a German entrepreneur, Alexander Achenbach, with whom Bates had been negotiating to convert Sealand into a tax-free casino and hotel. The plan faltered after the pair argued over money and in 1978 Achenbach took revenge. German and Dutch mercenaries landed from helicopters while Bates and his family were away.
Bates dusted down his old military combats and reconquered his territory in a daring pre-dawn raid.
The mercenaries were released “under the Geneva Convention” but Achenbach’s lawyer, Gernot Pütz, was taken hostage. Pütz was interned on the fort until substantial compensation was paid.
Via Wikipedia and The Times.