A few years ago, Matt Roth read an article about a curious place called Sealand — a decommissioned WWII-era British Navy fort in the North Sea that declared independence from England. His interests were piqued, but when he heard a radio story about another micronation, this time on U.S. soil, he knew he had to investigate. Roth has since been traveling from his home in Baltimore to micronations around North America, documenting the land and the people that claim to rule them.

Republic of Molossia | (Matt Roth)

As it is with many hobbies, micronation participation ranges from flights of fancy to the evangelical. This disparate international community gathers mostly online where any person, of any age, can declare sovereignty. While it sounds make-believe, and indeed micronations are not recognized by any government, for some leaders, their personalized countries — be they on land or in the mind — are very much real.

The Republic of Molossia is a tiny "nation" in the middle of Dayton, Nevada, ruled by President Kevin Baugh, and populated exclusively by Baugh's family and dogs (not the cats —"cats can't be trusted," Baugh told Roth.) Situated on Baugh's land, Molossia contains a bank, post office, tiki bar, and presidential office; it even has its own paper currency.

Republic of Molossia | (Matt Roth)

But not all micronations have such clearly defined borders and infrastructure. In the Seattle suburbs, a micronation called Überstadt is led by 19-year-old King Adam and his younger brother, Prince Adam. While Überstadt is ostensibly the brothers' childhood home, the micronation is bound only by the imagination of King Adam.

"King Adam is more focused on the minutia of running, documenting, and utilizing Uberatadt as an extension of everyday life," Roth said.

Überstadt | (Matt Roth)

Überstadt | (Matt Roth)

Roth is drawn to this obsessive quality of the rulers. "I get to experience the merits of their dedication," he said. But, ultimately, Roth likes to have fun with the leaders and, he finds, many of them are happy to be in on the joke. "I genuinely like these people and I like to make fun with my subjects. And I think they know that."

To achieve that level of playfulness in his photographs, Roth looks for non-sequiturs that creep into the frame. "They are like allusions to the outside world poking tiny holes into their micronational bubbles," he said.

"A lot of photographers make serious images about important issues. Me? I like to make people laugh," he said. "In the scope of world issues, micronations slant towards the unimportant, and silly." In a world full of terrors, that might not be such a bad thing.

MicroCon 2015: In April, Micronationalists from around the world gathered in California. | (Matt Roth)

MicroCon 2015 | (Matt Roth)

MicroCon 2015 | (Matt Roth)

MicroCon 2015 | (Matt Roth)

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