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Grand Duchy of Westarctica

Flag of Westarctica.jpg
Westarctica Arms - Full.png
Coat of Arms

Fortune Favors the Bold.

Westarctica Map.jpg
Claimed area of Westarctica.

Capital city Peter I Island
Largest city Russkaya Station
Official language(s) English, German
Demonym Westarctican
National Anthem Westarctica, Land of the Brave

Government Constitutional Monarchy
Head of State Grand Duke Travis
Head of Government Prime Minister Brendan Cook
Senate Leader Vacant

Legislature Senate of Westarctica
Senators 11
Last Elections 20 February 2023

Formation 02 November 2001
Area Claimed 1.6 million km2
Population 2,150 (2018 estimate)
Currency Westarctica ice mark
WestarcticaCoin (cryptocurrency, formerly)
Westarctican Dollar (formerly)

Official website

Westarctica, formally known as the Grand Duchy of Westarctica and previously known as the Protectorate of Westarctica and the Achaean Territory of Antarctica, is a micronation situated primarily in the western portion of the continent of Antarctica and including all territory south of 60°S latitude and between 90° and 150°W longitude, without exception. It also includes the previously claimed territories of Peter I Island (claimed by Norway) and the Balleny Islands (claimed by New Zealand) as well as the colony of Calsahara (claimed by the United States). In 2001 Travis McHenry laid claim to the largest contiguous portion of the nation by filing a claimant letter with the nine world governments that have also expressed legal claims of ownership to portions of the continent (though none to the sector claimed by McHenry). The territory consists mostly of Marie Byrd Land and a large proportion of Ellsworth Land. It has no year round residents, although seasonal research stations are located in the region. The nation of Westarctica was founded through a loophole in the Antarctic Treaty.


The Achaean Territory (2001 - 2004)

Main article: Achaean Territory of Antarctica

It was in the pages of the CIA World Factbook that Travis McHenry first discovered the unique international political situation in Antarctica. Under the section titled “Disputes – International” one line of text made his breath catch in his throat and set him on a course that would forever change his life: "no formal claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west". At first, the future Grand Duke Travis decided to name his claimed lands as The Achaean Territory of Antarctica, having been inspired by Greek imagery of The Illiad, which he was reading at the time.

The proposed capital city was to be named "Achilles" and would be located at the site of the seasonally abandoned Byrd Station.

Over time, like-minded individuals occasionally reached out with a desire to join his cause for statehood in the coldest place on earth. What drove them to his door remains a mystery, but it appears that each person had their own reasons for wanting to abscond to a desolate realm on the far side of the world. Despite the Achaean Territory's growing citizenship roster, they made absolutely no progress toward actual colonization of Antarctica. Scientists wouldn't return e-mails, and few people took the upstart group seriously. Even the simple goal of convincing someone to plant the Achaean flag in the ice of Marie Byrd Land seemed well out of reach.

Westarctica is Born (2004 - 2006)

It was during this time that Travis had a religious experience that caused him to briefly convert to Christianity. As a result of this conversion, he decided to reboot the project and declare it a fully functional sovereign nation. The new country was called The Grand Duchy of Westarctica. The name "Westarctica" was carefully chosen to evoke images of Western Antarctica, and also as an homage to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia. Plus, the name rolls off the tongue far better than West-ANT-arctica.

The years from 2004 – 2006 were the high times of Westarctica's prestige. Travis married his girlfriend, Cathryn, who wore a tiara during the wedding ceremony and proudly joined the ranks of the Peerage of Westarctica. When she gave birth to Prince Daniel Nicholas in November of 2005, it was a time of excitement for everyone in the nation. With a little help from the international media, public interest in Westarctica increased, and citizenship requests began arriving on a daily basis. The general public was fascinated by Westarctica and by the concept of claiming previously unclaimed land.

The Associated Press had run a story on new country projects that made mention of Grand Duke Travis and Westarctica. Unfortunately, his supervisors at his day job in the United States Navy didn't find the concept of Westarctica as fascinating as their civilian contemporaries. He was given a choice: either end his association with Westarctica, or lose his security clearance and thus his job. So in January 2006, Travis contacted his closest friend in the Westarctican government, Philip Karns, the Duke of Ravencroft, and Minister of Information, to ask if he would be willing to take over the reins of government. Philip accepted, and on 14 January 2006, the founder of Westarctica abdicated the throne.

Grand Duke Travis was photographed by Gabriela Alvarez for the Associated Press, April 2015.

The Reign of Two Grand Dukes​ (2006 - 2010)

Grand Duke Philip

Grand Duke Philip ascended to the throne at a time when Westarctica was internally strong and prosperous. His first 100 days in office were marked by progress and creativity. He published an eight-page newsletter called Westarctica Quarterly, which, most significantly, had lengthy articles written by every member of the Westarctican government. Things were progressing nicely until Westarctica's Chief Herald, the Duke of Moulton-Berlin, began to feel as though he was being attacked in Westarctica's online forums. Although the exact nature of the dispute is unimportant, the internal squabbling led to the departure of most members of Westarctica's leadership team.

After spending a mere 10 months on the throne, Grand Duke Philip's health began to deteriorate and he slowly withdrew from public life. To the outside world, it appeared that Westarctica had become stagnant. The forums were devoid of activity, the nobles had disappeared, and the new Grand Duke was silent. Many people wondered if the country was finished. The final blow to Westarctica's prestige came when Grand Duke Philip allowed the official website for the nation to go defunct. Even a neglected website can provide some information to visitors and interested parties; however, the Grand Duke failed to re-register the westarctica.com domain name and the web address fell into the hands of a domain parking service. ​ On 23 June 2008, Travis received an impassioned e-mail from the Duke of Moulton-Berlin, Jon-Lawrence Langer, a fellow Pennsylvania native and longtime citizen of Westarctica. In the e-mail, he asked some very important questions, and made some profound statements about how the intrepid vision behind Westarctica had changed his life. After a chain of e-mails and phone calls back and forth, Travis and Jon-Lawrence were able to convince Grand Duke Philip to step down from the throne. His final words before abdication were tired, but honest: "If they want it, the crown is theirs."

Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence

Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence.

Jon-Lawrence eagerly replied, "I invite the challenge." And without further delay, the throne, crown, and full dictatorial power of Westarctica was peacefully passed from one citizen to another. In response, the new Grand Duke launched westarctica.org, and proudly proclaimed the restoration of Westarctica's government after his ascension to the throne. After the new website was launched, the world was once again interested in the goings-on in Westarctica. Within the first six months of his ascension to the throne, Grand Duke Jon-Lawrence was faced with multiple attacks on Westarctica's sovereignty. All the individuals who had made claims to Marie Byrd Land while Philip was incommunicado suddenly rose to the surface and started questioning the status of Travis McHenry's claim. The new Grand Duke took a heavy-handed approach in dealing with the challengers, issuing ultimatums that left no wiggle room for negotiation.

At the Grand Duke's behest, Wolf Tulier, the Count of Waesche, had been communicating with many of the challengers, and was making steady progress with friendly discussions. Jon-Lawrence couldn't see their side of the argument, however, and promptly ordered Wolf to cease communication with the usurpers. A series of legal threats and firm refusals to negotiate followed, culminating the the Siple War. By late 2009, Westarctica was right back where it had started: isolated and internally fractured. Things went downhill rapidly, and on 24 November 2009, Jon-Lawrence sent Travis an e-mail expressing his weariness at running the nation.

The Founder Returns​ (2010 - 2014)

Main article: The Great Return

Throughout the month of May in the year 2010, Wolf was in constant contact with Travis in regard to Westarctican affairs. There was great concern that the nation had once again fallen into a spate of non-activity and was again relegated to the dustbin of world history. Wolf enthusiastically encouraged Travis to return to a position of leadership, and offered to be of service in any way necessary. He desperately wanted to fulfill the resolution to the conflicting claims that he had negotiated in previous years. Many of the claimants had become respected new country leaders in their own right, with the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis garnering even more press coverage than Westarctica.

Travis attempted e-mailing and calling Jon-Lawrence on numerous occasions, but the missing monarch never returned any of the e-mails or calls. Wolf pressed for a course of action, insisting that the best choice would be for Travis to return to Westarctica and take his place as leader of the nation. The primary reason for Travis' return to Westarctica was to restore the good name and dignity of the project he had created and to raise our country's prestige once again in the eyes of the world. He sent one final plea for cooperation to Jon-Lawrence before seizing control of the country on 26 May 2010.

By the end of the following week, he had purchased a new domain name, Westarctica.info and established a new website promoting a Transitional Government that was now firmly in power. Jon-Lawrence had been overthrown by Travis' own hand, and Wolf was elevated to the role of Prime Minister. Despite his reluctance to assume the throne, Travis was declared Grand Duke again on 4 June 2010 during his 30th birthday while celebrating in a suite at the Grand Californian Hotel. The Viscount of Whitmore was in attendance and grunted his approval. Count Waesche ascended to the dignity of Duke and assumed full responsibility for the foreign and domestic affairs of the nation. Wolf immediately negotiated a peace with all of the rival claimants, and Westarctica successfully reclaimed her dignity.

Westarctica, Inc. (2014 - Present)

Westarctica's corporate logo

On the eve of Westarctica's 13th Anniversary, the Grand Duke realized that he could be more effective as an advocate for Marie Byrd Land if he took the bold step to turn his new country project into a nonprofit corporation whose stated purpose aligned perfectly with the original goals envisioned when our territory was first claimed. The text of the Claimant Letter emphasized protection of environmental and animal resources in Antarctica, and becoming a tax-exempt organization with legal standing as a corporation would allow Westarctica to transition from an obscure novelty into an international charity capable fighting climate change on a global scale.

On 21 November 2014, Travis filed an application with the state of California to make Westarctica Incorporated a legally recognized nonprofit public benefit corporation. His request was approved and officially registered on 5 December. As a nonprofit entity, Westarctica Incorporated would achieve more than ever before, becoming a beacon for increased awareness of the perpetually neglected western side of Antarctica. Westarctica's first major accomplishment as a nonprofit corporation was being granted non-consultative status as a non-governmental organization by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs on 20 January 2015.

Tax-exempt status

On 10 October 2018, Westarctica was granted tax-exempt status (back-dated to 26 July 2018 and received on 19 October 2018) by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America. This status gives all donors to Westarctica the ability to receive a tax-deduction on their end of year tax filing. It also makes Westarctica the first micronation in the world to be legally exempt from paying taxes to any world government.


See also: Index of geographic features in Westarctica

The Westarctican Mainland

The bulk of Westarctican territory consists of the entirety of Marie Byrd Land, but is more specifically defined as all land south of 60° S and between 90° W and 150° W to include all seas and ice shelves. This wedge lies between the territorial claims of Chile and New Zealand and extends from the Antarctic Circle to the South Pole, where it joins and abuts all other claimed portions of the continent. Rather than adhere to the Law of the Sea's concept of an Exclusive Economic Zone, which grants ownership of all ocean territory 200 nmi (370 km) from a country's coastline, Westarctica's claimed territory encompasses all of the Amundsen Sea and the western portion of the Bellingshausen Sea.

The term "Westarctican mainland" generally refers to all islands off the coast unclaimed by any other nation, including the islands of Thurston, Steventon, and Wright as well as many of the islands in the Marshall Archipelago and dozens of other islands along the coast of the country.

After the reformation of the Grand Duchy into a protectorate in October 2010, on the advice of the Transitional Government, Grand Duke Travis reduced the Westarctican claim in order to join the Antarctic Micronational Union and recognize other micronational claims in Western Antarctica. This decision was made official after the signing of the West-Antarctic Treaty.

Thurston Island and the Eights Coast

The easternmost region of Westarctica that contains notable features occurs along the coastline and consists of the various islands stretching from Dendtler Islands in the far east through the various islands of Pine Island Bay and is dominated by the very large Thurston Island. Along the continent's coast, the features of the Eights Coast are part of this region, including the Jones Mountains and the Canisteo and King Peninsulas.

The Two Peninsulas

Westarctica's next region is dominated by two of its principle peninsulas, the Martin Peninsula and the Bear Peninsula. It stretches inland to include Mount Takahe, Toney Mountain, and the Crary Mountains, and contains the Dotson and Crosson Ice Shelves.

The Other Big Islands

Further west are Westartcica's other two major island features, Carney Island and Siple Island as well as the smaller Wright, Dean, and Grant Islands as well as the Getz Ice Shelf. There are no inland features in this part of the coast.

Peter I Island

Map of Peter I Island

Peter I Island is 11 by 19 kilometers (6.8 by 11.8 mi) long and 156 square kilometers (60 sq mi), slightly larger than Staten Island, New York. It lies 450 kilometers (280 mi) away from mainland Westarctica. The island was annexed by Norway in 1931. Although the island falls within the boundaries of the claimant letter, Peter I Island was not specifically mentioned, and its status as a part of Westarctica was up to interpretation. To remedy this, it was specifically annexed from Norway by Westarctica in 2005. Neither annexation has been recognized by the signatory states of the Antarctic Treaty. It is the physical capital of Westarctica.

The eldest son of the Grand Duke, Prince Ashton Roman, bears the title Viceroy of Peter I Island. Given Peter I Island's status as a capital district, not an actual territory, this title is purely ceremonial.

Overlapping Claim With Flandrensis

In 2008, during a perceived period of inactivity from the Westarctcan government, the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis was established, laying claim to five islands off the coasts of West Antarctica: Siple Island, Cherry Island, Maher Island, Pranke Island, and Carney Island, and based its claim on an interpretation of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. These five Islands are still claimed as part of the Westarctican mainland, but are administered as a special district within the nation, out of respect for the now allied Flandrensis.

Colonial Possessions

Westarctica claims jurisdiction and ownership over two small areas that are not contiguous with the territory originally claimed by Travis McHenry in 2001, and are not considered part of Westarctica proper. These pieces of land are administered as colonial possessions and are ruled on behalf of the Grand Duke by a governor, a viceroy, or both.

The Balleny Islands

The Balleny Islands are a series of uninhabited islands in the Southern Ocean extending from 66°15' to 67°35'S and 162°30' to 165°00'E. The group extends for about 160 km (99 mi) in a northwest-southeast direction. They are located within the Ross Dependency and were originally claimed first by the United Kingdom and then by New Zealand before being annexed by Westarctica in 2005.

Since their annexation, the islands have been administered by the Duke of Sherman as Governor of the Balleny Islands.

Colony of Calsahara

The Westarctican Royal Guards in Calsahara

Originally known as the Kingdom of Calsahara, the 120 acre territory is a dependent colony of Westarctica located entirely within the U.S. state of California near the unincorporated community of California Valley on the Carrizio Plain. Calsahara was founded by Travis McHenry on 24 November 2009, and existed as an independent sovereign state until it was conquered without resistance during the Invasion of Calsahara by the Westarctican Royal Guards on 29 October 2017.

It is ruled by the Viceroy of Calsahara, Prince Daniel Nicholas, who represents the royal authority of the Grand Duke, as well as the Captain-General of Calsahara, Damien Kramer, who has overall responsibility for the administration and management of the Colony.

Protectorate of Kolios

Established as a 120-acre Kingdom on 20 September 1995, Kolios spent the majority of its time prior to becoming a protectorate of Westarctica as the Principality of Kolios within the Empire of Agber. During the tenure with Agber, the primary focus of Kolios was the culture surrounding Renaissance Fairs and other forms of creative anachronism.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the founders reconnected with the project, leading it to join the larger online micronational community. When its then reigning Princess Arlene decided to go back to medical school, she announced that she was abdicating the throne. After lengthy consideration, her successor declared his intent to place Kolios under Westarctica as a protectorate, this transfer took place on 27 February 2022, with Prince Garibald having worn the crown for less than 36 hours.

Grand Duke Travis' authority is consolidated in Kolios in the role of the Governor-General, which is currently filled by Jordan Farmer. Kolios' citizens select the Chancellor, who serves as their collective voice in the colonial government. The current Chancellor is Ella Westerly.

Colony of Raphania

Previously known as the Grand Emirate of Raphania, this territory is made up of two separate tracts of land found in Arizona, totaling 1.48 acres. Raphania was founded on 12 April 2022, although its origins go back earlier during a time when the area was known as the Desert Realm of Raphastan. It would become a territory of Westarctica on 19 November 2022, also bringing an end to the Westarctica-Raphania War.

Within Raphania, Westarctica's Grand Duke Travis technically holds the role of Emir, although he is commonly referred to by his Westarctican title. Day-to-day operations are overseen by the Viceroy, Prince Charles. Unlike other holdings within the Westarctican conservacy of territories, Raphania is unique in that the role of Viceroy is hereditary.


Main article: Government of Westarctica

The government of Westarctica is headed by the Grand Duke of Westarctica, and administered with the assistance of the Royal Council.

The Royal Council is led by the Prime Minister, who is elected democratically and serves a four-year term. The Prime Minister also acts as the Upper House of the legislature, the Senate of Westarctica, which generates ordinances and passes them to him for approval.

The collected nobles of the Peerage of Westarctica are frequently consulted on major issues and serve as a sounding board for ideas in the government, but they have no official role in governing the nation.

The Grand Ducal Court serves as an independent judicial branch of the government. Its members are appointed for life.


Main article: Westarctican Royal Guards

The Westarctican Royal Guards are Westarctica's military force. A small unit of only six soldiers, the Royal Guards primarily serve in a ceremonial capacity, although they are capable of combat actions as evidenced by the 2017 liberation of Calsahara, when the Guards successfully conquered a rival micronation on the Carrizo Plain of central California.

Many members of Westarctica's government, noble Peers, and citizenry are veterans of various world militaries, especially the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S Air Force.

National symbols

Main article: National Symbols of Westarctica

External links