“Beyond this point, you are no longer in United States territory.”

So reads the sign marking the entrance to the Republic of Molossia, in the middle of the Nevada desert. Given the diverse range of cultures in the US, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to argue that our nation is actually composed of several mini-countries all rolled up into one. But beyond the obvious divisions that exist between states, and the societal differences that separate regions like New England, the Midwest, the Deep South, and California, there is another invisible border that few people know about. It doesn’t indicate the territory of a city or state, but another nation entirely, and it exists wholly within US borders.

The Republic of Molossia, located about 30 miles east of Carson City, Nevada, can be accessed right off Route 50 in the Dayton Valley. Situated in the remote Nevada desert, this 1.3-square-acre community might sound like a commune or a cult, but it’s actually a self-proclaimed micronation, with its own currency, customs office, navy, and president.

The history of Molossia

The Republic of Molossia was founded on May 26, 1977, by Kevin Baugh and James Spielman. Originally the country was located in Portland, Oregon, called the Grand Republic of Vuldstein, and under the rule of “King” Spielman. Succeeding Spielman, Baugh renamed the country the Republic of Molossia in 1999, declared himself president, and relocated it to the Nevada desert.

Although Baugh has sought formal independence from the US through a petition, it failed to gather enough signatures for the micronation to receive formal recognition. Despite its lack of official sovereign status, the micronation is currently involved in a “war” with East Germany and has been since 1983. The root of the issue is a dispute over an uninhabited island in Cuba, which has been unclaimed since the fall of the Berlin wall.

The name “Molossia” itself is an adaptation of the Hawaiian word maluhia, which means “harmony in the world.”

It’s important to note that a micronation is not recognized by the international community. It is a piece of land claiming to be an independent, sovereign nation, with its own system of government and societal rules. Technically, Molossia is a military dictatorship, with President Baugh regularly dressing in ceremonial uniform adorned with medals. The dictatorship, however, is not a brutal one, but a humorous allusion to the world dictators that were installed by the US around the world in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Life in Molossia

The republic considers itself a third-world nation due to its lack of paved roads, a hospital, and an airport. But it’s not all bad. Located outside the jurisdiction of the US, Molossia does not pay taxes and even has its own currency, printed on poker chips, which is based on the value of Pillsbury cookie dough. There is a national anthem, unique language, bank, railroad, post office, war office, and kazoo-like official instrument. The main building in town is the “Government House” — Baugh’s private residence — but the population of around 33 people live in their own dwellings.

Like any ambitious nation, Molossis isn’t simply content with remaining inside its own borders. The micronation has an unofficial claim on a patch of sea 470 miles off the coast of Mexico, as well as nearly 50,000 square miles of land on the surface of Neptune. Indeed, Molossia’s intergalactic aspirations are one of its hallmarks. It even has its own space program. The Molossian Air and Space Agency periodically launches rockets, some with a payload of Mexican jumping beans.

“In the ongoing effort to expand the horizons of man’s existence,” the agency’s website reads, “the Republic of Molossia turns its gaze heavenward. Surely, in the vastness of space, man can overcome the pettiness of worldly matters and grow in this new millennium.”

Visiting Molossia

Molossia isn’t like other countries with tourism boards encouraging year-round visitors. The micronation is open to visitors once a month, from April through October, with specific visiting dates listed on the government’s website. You don’t need a visa or any documentation to enter Molossia, but a passport is recommended for identification. You should also inform the government of your visit prior to arrival. According to the website, “Visitors to Molossia must not come unannounced. This is our home as well as our nation and we may be unavailable to receive you. Visitors cannot tour the nation unescorted, again because it is also our home.”

Even though you don’t need a special visa, don’t expect to just waltz right into town. The micronation does have a customs station, and your passport will be stamped upon entry. Visitors are allowed to remain in Molossia for a period of three hours, and only with special permission.

To check out the micronation for a longer period, there is another option: Become a citizen. While Molossia isn’t currently accepting citizenship applications, you can obtain more information about the process by emailing the Foreign Ministry. Foreign nationals — i.e. US residents — are not allowed to work or live in Molossia, so you’ll just have to cross your fingers and hope the micronation begins accepting new citizens soon.

If you are considering a visit, you might want to shoot for May 26, the micronation’s “Founder’s Day,” which is widely considered one of the most festive days to visit. Founder’s Day celebrates the anniversary of the country’s birth and involves a tour of the community by the president himself, a rousing speech, and of course, a barbecue.