LIVE AND LET LIVE

Liberland, the world’s newest micro-nation, is already a leader in nation branding

Obsession
Design
Obsession
Design

Not a single state has officially recognized the Free Republic of Liberland, the world’s newest self-declared country. But with a bright yellow flag in the ground, the Czech politician and former financial analyst Vít Jedlička staked his claim on a 7-square-kilometer (2.7-square-mile) patch of no-man’s land between Serbia and Croatia and founded the micro-nation on April 13. Over 250,000 people from around the world have applied for citizenship since.

But even if the legal premise of Liberland is shaky, it is looking more and more like a legitimate state, thanks to its well-developed nation-branding. In fact, the prospective nation is now essentially a design rendering, a mockup of what a brand new nation looks like, on the page and the screen, in 2015.

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Liberland’s founding fathers and mother

Jedlička, now the country’s president, along with three fellow libertarians, conceived Liberland (a portmanteau of “liberty” and “land”) as a state that would operate with voluntary taxation and maximum personal freedom. The start-up nation launched with its core state symbols in place: a flag, a coat of arms, and a motto—“To live and let live”—fortifying a trompe l’oeil of legitimacy.

Following the trajectory of new nations such as South Sudan, or even fictitious lands such as the Empire of Zubrowka, Liberland is relying on a brigade of designers, artists, and architects, many of them volunteers, to visualize its territory and identity. “There are a number of artists from different spheres who are taking part in this, and the number is increasing every day,” says Jedlička, who spoke to Quartz by phone.

Here are some of the elements of Liberland’s branding assembled so far:

The flag

“The yellow stands for capitalism or free market, the black stands for rebellion,” Jedlička says referring to the Euro-skeptic ethos of his project. “The bird is for freedom, which is an important aspect of our flag. We also have a tree that means abundance; the sun for energy; and the river refers to the Danube River, where we are located.”

Liberland_flag

The coat of arms

Jedlička explains that the coat of arms and the flag were designed before Liberland’s territory was settled upon. “To be honest, we had this before we knew where Liberland was going to be,” he said. “Somehow the place which we found worked with this design. I really like how it fits together with Serbia and Croatia’s coat of arms.”

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(Liberland)

The territorial map

While Liberland’s official cadastral map is being prepared to denote its borders, the micro-nation’s presence, at least in the virtual space, is established. The area that was once listed as Gornja Siga, on the west bank of the Danube, is now recognized as “Liberland” on Google maps (official coordinates: 45°46’N; 18°52″E).

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The city plan

Jedlička says that major architectural firms from Prague have offered to help with Liberland’s urban planning. “You will find interesting architectural concepts in the near future,” he says, though he declined to reveal details. “Prague is a center for world architecture from many aspects. We have people who designed Dubai here, for example. I will reveal their names soon.”

Seifeddine Abbassi, a Tunisian product design student based in Poland, built a Liberland Design fan page, and he hopes to become a citizen of Liberland and to join its official design department.

He is already pondering design solutions for thousands of new Liberlanders who will potentially inhabit a land area about size of 60 city blocks in Manhattan, New York. “Liberland it’s a small country, so it would be better if most things will be multifunctional,” Abassi explains. “For example, multifunctional furniture [built for microapartments] is a possibility. Liberland will be built from zero, so its design must be unique.”

These are artists renderings showing how one might parcel out the micro-nation’s limited terrain:

Architecture
(Liberland / Facebook)
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(Liberland / Facebook)

Website

A well-designed website translated into four languages is arguably Liberland’s most valuable asset right now. It contains basic information about its unfolding history, a draft of its constitution, its laws, a donation page, and a link to the application for Liberlander citizenship.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.29.12 PM
(Liberland)

Banknotes and currency

Bitcoin has been declared Liberland’s official currency, which will eliminate the need for a central bank and minimize regulation, true to its libertarian spirit.

But still, a Facebook fan group called “Liberland Currency Authority” is calling for design proposals for a set of gold coins—to be called “VIT coin” after its founding president.

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National anthem

Just a day after its launch, a musician had composed a national anthem for Liberland overnight: “Victory March to Glory Land,” composed and conducted by Varhan Orchestrovič Bauer.

“It’s our preliminary anthem,” Jedlička tells Quartz. “It’s a very nice song created for us by a professional musician but we haven’t decided if this will be our official anthem. [We welcome] more proposals for our national anthem.”

More design work to do

Still on the to-do list are road signs, official forms, diplomatic papers, stationery, a country-level internet domain name (.li is already taken by Liechtenstein and .lb is Lebanon), and an international dialing code (proposed as +422) to be filed with the International Telecommunications Union. (When we dialed Jedlička’s mobile, his number was still appended by Czech’s +420 country code.)

But Jedlička may have found some help from the fledgling country’s Facebook followers. Whether parody or earnest proposals, Facebook fan pages are helping flesh out the possibilities for this emergent state.

In less than two weeks, Liberland has at least the design trappings of: a police department, a ministry of culture, a Liberlandish language institute, a sign language group, a news media outlet, an investment club, a gun club, and even a Humans of Liberland page, ready for the influx of new citizens.

liberland fan

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Jedlička welcomes the participation of all creatives in the early days of Liberland. “There is so much creativity,” he said. “Which is good, because everything needs to be designed from scratch.”

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