So, you’re on the run. Trying to hide out from the long arm of the law or perhaps from financial obligations. We certainly don’t encourage such behaviour, but if you were thinking of skipping town, we’ve got some suggestions for you. Some are places where extradition treaties don’t exist or the “country” itself isn’t recognized by anyone. Others are little more than communities of squatters that can provide sanctuary to those in need. But no matter where you go, don’t forget the wig and false papers.
Republic of Užupis
The Republic of Užupis is a bohemian neighbourhood in Vilnius, Lithuania. After Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union, many homes in Užupis were abandoned when the Soviets left. Gradually squatters moved in. The neighbourhood declared independence in 1997 and even though it's not recognized by anyone, the Republic of Užupis has a government, constitution, currency and flag. Užupis Day falls on April 1 – coincidence? Still, if one is able to blend in with the artists and musicians that inhabit the area, it makes an excellent and interesting place to hide out.
The Principality of Sealand doesn't have much land. Actually, it doesn't have any. Sealand's territory is little more than an old World War II fortress, located about 10 km off the coast of Britain. Once used as an anti-aircraft platform, it is now the Principality of Sealand. The independence of Sealand is in question as it lies within the UK's territorial waters. Visiting Sealand is tough – currently visa applications are closed, although you can still make a special request. If you're looking for an official title like Count and Countess, no problem. They're for sale for about $370.
Republic of Somaliland
The Republic of Somaliland split from Somalia in 1991. The East African nation is de facto independent, but so far no other country has recognized it. Although Somaliland has its own government and laws, the lack of diplomatic relations with other nations means that extradition is nearly impossible. As very few people have heard of Somaliland, it's a good place for nefarious types to keep under the radar.
You'll find the Free City of Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark. The self-proclaimed autonomous community was founded in 1971 when squatters moved into an abandoned military base. Today roughly 850 people call Christiania home. Residents are a mixture of hippies, anarchists and those seeking refuge and sanctuary. As such, it makes a good place to keep a low profile. But don't think you can get away with criminal activity. The self-policing community prohibits theft, weapons, violence and hard drugs.
Republic of Abkhazia
The Republic of Abkhazia is located on the Black Sea just 50 km southwest of Sochi, Russia. Most countries consider the disputed territory to be part of Georgia, but it enjoys de facto independence following a brief war in the early 1990s. Only five countries, including Russia, recognize the breakaway state. Because Canada has no diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, the chances of being extradited are nil. Plus, who goes to Abkhazia?
This wee islet is the western-most point of Britain. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, some 460 km from the UK, Rockall is little more than a poop-covered rock. Once part of an ancient volcano, it now makes the ideal hideout for those seeking total isolation. Just a few dozen people have ever set foot on Rockall and the longest anyone has lived here is 42 days. There are some drawbacks: there's only 780 square metres of “land” and, even though Rockall is 20 metres high, waves regularly wash over it. As Lord Kennet once remarked, "There can be no place more desolate, despairing and awful." Be sure to pack a raincoat and galoshes.
Republic of South Ossetia
Another break-away Georgian republic, South Ossetia, is located in the South Caucasus. It declared independence in 1990, sparking a short war that involved Russia. Currently the republic is recognized only by five countries, including Russia. Georgia is not one of them. The area is another example of a good place to hide out as there are no extradition treaties. Blending in is another matter.
Westarctica is the brainchild of Travis McHenry. The American discovered that a part of Antarctica was unclaimed and using a legal loophole, tried to claim it. So far, his claim has fallen on deaf ears, but that doesn't mean McHenry hasn't pressed ahead. He continues to make his claim and in the meantime, has issued coins and stamps. Westarctica makes a great place to escape the coppers. However surviving in the brutal climate is the real challenge.
First of all, very few people have heard of this "country" between Moldova and Ukraine. Second, Transnistria (or the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) isn't really a country – no one, except for a couple of other disputed republics, recognize it. Officially it's still Moldova, but Transnistria broke away in the early 90s. If you're looking for a place to hide out, Transnistria is a good choice as the chances of being extradited are zero. Also, if you're fond of Soviet kitsch, you'll love Transnistria – it's like being in the USSR circa 1975.
Hiding out is one thing, but what if you really want to disappear? Why not make a run for North Korea? Just sneak across the border from China and get caught by a North Korean border guard. In no time you'll be put up in a work camp and you'll be far, far away from everything and everyone. Just don't have second thoughts.