Here’s another wacky one for you from my latest backpacking journey – The Lagoan Isles.
The Lagoan Isles, officially known as the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles is a micronation centred on three small uninhabited islands in Baffin’s Pond, an outdoor nature reserve area in Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom. This is another of these crazy breakaway nations inspired by the Danny Wallace television series How to Start Your Own Country.
In the last few years of my travels, I have successfully backpacked through other disputed regions, small countries and micronations such as:
– The Republic of Uzupis
– The People’s Republic of Podjistan
– French Guyana
– Nagorno Karabakh
– Druze People of Isfiya
– The Vatican City State
– Iraqi Kurdistan
– Freetown Christiania
– The Royal Republic of Ladonia
– The Former Republic of Frestonia
– The Sovereign Military Order of Malta
It has all been a bit wacky and weird, yet exciting visiting all these unusual spots, the latest one then was the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles! So here’s a bit of background into this country before I launch into my backpacking article on the sights.
Sorry, what is the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles?
The Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles is a micronation that “borders England”, though in essence, it’s a country on a pond and the pond borders England. It was formed in 2005 by school teacher Louis Robert Harold Stephens (“Grand Duke Louis”, born 1985) as a class project, and claims as its territory Baffins Pond, near Portsmouth, along with the three tiny islands on the pond.
The country has an internet presence on these two sites:
Some Statistics and Facts About the Lagoan Isles
- Number of citizens (as stands): 30
- Head of State: H.R.H. Grand Duke Louis Robert Harold Stephens of The Lagoan Isles
- Prime Minister: Rt. Hon. Daryl A. Vokes MLP
- Capital: Beeney St. Georges
- National Day: 16th August (date of unification)
- Legal System: Based on Common British law
- Executive Branch: Consitutional Monrachy with council of ministers recommended by the Prime minister and elected by the Grand Duke. The privy council advises the royal family on political issuses, and is formed of four retired MLP’s, chosen by the head of state.
- Age structure: 0-16 yrs = 8% 16-30 yrs = 66% 30-50 yrs = 15% 50+ yrs = 10%
- Population growth: 75% (based on 2006 report)
- Birthrate: 0
- Nationality: noun – Lagoan(s) adjective – Lagoa
- Ethnic Groups: British, Hong Kongian, American
- Religion: Protestant = 53%, Roman Catholic = 6%, Agnostic = 22%, Atheist = 15%, Hindu = 3%
- Language: English (official), Lagoan (regional)
- Literacy: 100% by the age of 16
- Currency: Lagoan Edney Dollars
- National Tree: The Weeping Willow was chosen as the national tree of The Lagoan Isles on 19th August 2005, to coincide with the birthday of The Grand Duke’s father. The Willow was adopted due to its abundence on all three islands.
- Location: Lying south of Tangier Road in Portsmouth, England the pond covers two and a half acres, with The Isles situated in the middle.
- Grid Reference: SU 6601-63
- Climate: modified continental with mild winters, cool summers
- Terrain: mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys
- Natural Hazards: flooding
- Environmental Issues: Current water pollution around shores, due to botulism and littering from the British mainland.
Historic Timeline of the Lagoan Isles, Baffin Pond
While the country’s declaration of independence was only announced in 2005, the nation dates back long before that, so here is some brief history on the nation. The information comes courtesy of the Lagoan Isles government website.
- 1738 – 1912 (approx) – Baffins Pond, changes hands a few times, originally belonging to Milton Manor, and in the late 19th century used by various local farmers.
- 1912 – 1938 – Baffins pond becomes a local park for Portsmouth residents; and in 1938 is saved through petition, and sold to the corporation for £5,000. This stopped the demolition of the isles and pond.
- 1938 – 1970’s – The old farm buildings of yesteryear are demolished to make way for new housing. The pond remains, and is modernised to comply with health and safety regulations.
- 1970’s – Aug 16th 2005 – Baffins pond undergoes many alterations, including a fountain and improved walkways. A pond association is also set-up to maintain the levels of wildlife and upkeep of the surroundings. The council last de-silted the pond in 1996; which is when fishermen were last seen at the pond.
- 2005 – 2015 The pond is as thriving as ever, and the local community are very proud of the pond. The islands situated in the middle of the pond are another matter. After reading the websites of King Danny Wallace and Prince Roy of Sealand, Grand Duke Louis realised that the islands in the pond have never been mentioned as owned council land; and so on the 16th August 2005, he claimed them as an Independent Micronation. The name Lagoan means Pond; so the country’s literal meaning is Pond Islands.
- October 2015 – During the ten year anniversary of the country, global traveller Jonny Blair backpacked overland to Baffin’s Pond and to check out the Lagoan Isles.
How Legitimate a Country is the Lagoan Isles?
Like a lot of these mini countries, this one is entirely up for debate. While realistically the country is housed within England’s boundaries, Grand Duke Louis claims the territory. The country has its own flag, anthem, currency and Duke.
However the country does not have any liveable land, any permanent residents, nor is there an official border crossing, passport stamping office, nor does it have a public transport boat service to England/the U.K.
As a backpacker, you can get right up to the border, view the entire country, check out the birds and wildlife and enjoy the nature of this truly unusual country. I will write about the top sights in another article very soon. In the meantime here are some videos from my time backpacking in the Grand Duchy of the Lagoan Isles, Baffin’s Pond, Portsmouth.