How should micronations be mapped on OSM

Only in the fevered imaginations of the people that “create” them…


Personally I agree with that too. But at OpenStreetMap discord an user said micronations should be mapped with “admin_level=2”, and we both figured that this issue should be settled down in the wider osm community.

I believe there needs to be a tagging that allows you to see if an area is in such a micronation. If we go by the on the mapping on the ground rule those areas are different than the nations they try to separate from, something that should be in the OSM data.

Using admin_level_2 is probably too much, giving them the staus of a normal country, and actively discouraged by the wiki: Tag:boundary=administrative - OpenStreetMap Wiki The wiki seems to recommend using admin_level=3 or 4 instead what isn’t an optimal solution either since those are not states or similiar but claiming to be independed, what makes them not fitting in the normal admin level hirachy in a country.

Mapping them as theme park is the worst option imo. While this may fit to some micronations such as Molossia this is not what other areas such as Sealand are. There are not masses of tourists taking trips to Sealands and enjoying the amenities there, it is a rather unwelcoming place. For a lot of Micronations the term protest camp would fit a lot better than tourist attraction. So tagging all Micronations as theme parks is the wrong approach.

You could tag them as disputed borders, but it isn’t really the border that is disputed but the whole country.

In my opinion we need a new tagging sheme for them, making it clear to all data users what these locations are without believing this is a spot for park rides or similiar. This would also end the edit wars that are going on about them.


Nice idea…

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To be clear - it only is because someone with no previous edits in OSM added it this morning. It just hasn’t been reverted yet.

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The OSMF policy on disputed territories is here. I don’t believe any of these alleged “micronations” meet the criteria in that.

If you think that policy needs to be changed, get a community consensus (from within OSM) together to change it. We already have ways of mapping most of the ones that are relevant - Molossia is a tourist attraction, for example. Sealand’s just a bit of “land” of dubious ownership; not a “country” in any accepted sense.

Many other not-quite-countries-yet would be in the queue** before Sealand at al.

** Somaliland is one example. I suspect that OSM is correct here, but a case could be made.

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For 6 hours. See Way History: 1258974785 | OpenStreetMap

This is clearly incorrect. It is not a real country and should not be mapped as one and will not be mapped as one, unless situation changes on the ground.

Even mapping it as a theme park or tourism attraction is dubious, unlike Molossia.

See also Micronation - OpenStreetMap Wiki (disclaimer: I wrote that page during previous round of such activities)

I would encourage removal of invalid boundary=administrative border with admin_level=2

(BTW, Principality of Sealand - Wikipedia is also some disaster written by some micronation fan that is confusing/misleading)

disclaimer: that is my personal opinion, not OSMF official statement (like all my other comments, unless stated otherwise)

Only for ones with on the ground presence.

Otherwise someone will invent (or invented already) micronation that is 1 mm wide and goes across entire Russia or something equally silly.

Sealand may qualify as place=locality I guess? Maybe place=locality locality=micronation
But that would be valid only for ones with some actual recognisability of name.


Someone tried it here: Query Features | OpenStreetMap

(Use Mapillary to understand the incredible work the mapper has put into it; I even have a little respect for the creativity and enormous perseverance, but don’t like exaggeration!)


And this is what happened afterwards:

(So always be careful with the guard dogs on the other side of the border!)


edit 1: Better working link-1,
edit 2: @ZeLonewolf Think, this is a good moment for the Popcorn-Emoji!


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I have removed theme park mapped on Roughs Tower and added alt_name=Sealand to Node: ‪Roughs Tower‬ (‪5703209919‬) | OpenStreetMap

I also removed is_in:country=Sealand

It also seems to me that Node History: ‪Roughs Tower‬ (‪5703209919‬) | OpenStreetMap should be rather place=locality - is anyone actually living there nowadays?

I removed population=50 from Relation: ‪Sealand‬ (‪6701391‬) | OpenStreetMap

Also, it seems that various official_name:?? at Relation: ‪Sealand‬ (‪6701391‬) | OpenStreetMap should be removed or retagged. It is not an official name, unless relevant local authority of UK joined onto this.

I opened Note: 4145189 | OpenStreetMap as active place of worship mapped there is dubious at best.

Just being curious here, and probably reinventing the wheel: who decides what is a country, and how? UN comes to mind, but also the fact that some countries are recognized by a few other countries but not all. Could there be a way that OSM can rely on an outside authority, or to account for multiple authories? e.g self:admin_level=2, a tag that can be ignored by those who wish.

Quoting myself above:

The last time this changed for any region was for the SADR territory (who, along with Morocco, claim the territory of the former Spanish Sahara). This was as a result of forum feedback to a question originally asked here. I asked for feedback both in that forum and also messaged all mappers who had edited boundaries in the area. The result (many forum replies later) resulted in a change to the admin_level of the SADR territories from 3 to 2.

If someone wanted to make a case that (say) Molossia or Slowjamastan should really have an admin_level of 2 they’re welcome to do so, but I suspect that the wider OSM community would not be in favour.

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Deciding whether a given area is a country and disputing a territory are two different things. For instance, in various databases the French island of Réunion is treated independently from France, whereas we (and they, afaik) consider it as a part of France.

Réunion is a bit of a red herring here, since I don’t believe that there is much of a dispute about its status or its geography. It is sometimes helpful to statisticians to classify overseas departments of France in some special way, but that’s not really relevant here.

Sometimes there are disputes over “country status” - the People’s Republic of China believes that Taiwan is not an independent country but merely part of China. In some of these cases (e.g. Taiwan) OSM takes the view that Taiwan is a country. Most countries people around the world agree in the de facto sense that they treat it like one. You can make the same case for many other places where there are disputes around the world, and at some point (quite a long way above Slowjamastan in the least) it makes sense for OSM to say “no, that is not a real country”. That doesn’t mean that something can’t be mapped as something appropriate to its status - in the case of Molossia, a tourist attaraction seems correct to me.

Well, in case of micronations answer is blatantly obvious. There are some cases which may be tricky or potentially deserve discussion but case of say Slowjamastan is far away from that.

I believe that you missed my point, which is precisely that deciding how to classify an area and disputing a territory are two different things.

In the case of Réunion, who is right? The statisticians you mention, or the simple view of the French citizen?

Maybe this example can help after all: what if the solution resided in capturing who assigned what administrative level?

This seems quite unrelated to topic of this thread which is about micronations - where such issue is lacking.

If you want to discuss this kind of topic starting a new thread seems a better idea.


Except if it can help address the issue of micronations. One way of solving consists in repeating “these people are blatantly wrong, period”. Apparently this does not help to prevent edit wars. Or we can try other angles, that’s what I’m trying to do here.

Sorry if this angle does not feel helpful to you. But I don’t see the point in becoming patronizing.

They both are - from their different points of view. From an administrative perspective Réunion is an external department of France, but a statistician may choose to present data differently if lumping everything together may confuse. As an example this wikipedia page separates out “Metropolitan France” from “Overseas Departments/Regions” so that the “answer to the question that most people were probably asking” is not complicated by “the technically correct answer to the question that most people were not asking”.

I still don’t see what this has to do with Micronations. The PDF (that I keep referring back to so often that it’s turning up in my browser suggestions now!) covers “how things can be culturally sensitive” and how de jure definitions may vary from de facto ones.

Other definitions that have been suggested (not entirely seriously, allegedly by Frank Zappa) don’t really work - a map of “countries based on having at least one beer” would have significant omissions and yet would include Sealand..

For me it’s always been are they acting as a country and are other countries treating them as one?

For the former, are they

  • doing normal governance tasks,
  • collecting taxes,
  • seeking to participate in international organizations where countries are members[1],
  • setting their own foreign policy,
  • doing other normal activities countries do.

For the latter, do countries

  • treat them as a country, even if they don’t call it that,
  • accept passports from there,
  • accept delegations from that country, or
  • grant them official recognition.

Micronations fail most or all of these. I thought about this when I was on the DWG, mainly in the context of breakaway regions supported by Russia, which is out of scope of this topic.

[1]: Both the common international organizations like ISO, WHO, UN, ITU, etc but also less common ones. If an association has country-level membership can that entity get a membership?