“Let’s Buy an Island” Group Proclaim Coffee Caye the “Principality of Islandia”
A small Belizean caye has been featured in international news this week. But, not as an eco-destination or playground for the rich and famous. This time it seems a piece of Belize is being touted as the world’s newest nation, complete with a flag, national anthem, national day, and even its own prince and Prime Minister. The investors, a group called “Let’s Buy an Island,” say they completed the purchase of Coffee Caye through crowd funding, right before the pandemic. The team led its first trip to the island in late 2021. Now, if all of this seems a bit far-fetched for you, the concept of a micro nation is not new. Several have been established across the globe, although they are not officially recognized states. The investors are now calling Coffee Caye the Principality of Islandia. And while it appears to simply be a unique marketing strategy to attract capital, Islandia has already pulled in almost one hundred investors and two hundred and forty-nine people who consider themselves citizens. And, they are reportedly aiming for five thousand citizens in the near future. News Five’s Paul Lopez takes a closer look at this surprising coastal development.
Paul Lopez, Reporting
Imagine buying an island off the coast of Belize to establish your own sovereign state. That is exactly what Marshall Myers, or as he is known on the island, “Royal Highness Prince Regent Marshall Myers,” envisioned when he and a group of investors purchased Coffee Caye off the coast of Belize. Is this really just a marketing strategy or a real life fantasy for anyone wishing to free themselves of the rules of a truly recognized state, by establishing one’s own structure of governance? Or, is it something more? Known as the Principality of Islandia, located some fifteen minutes off the coast of Belize City, the island already has an elected prince, a Prime Minister, its own national day, national anthem and an Islandia flag.
The micro nation concept is not new. History tells the tale of the Republic of Rose Island off the coast of Italy, and many like it. Built by Giorgio Rosa in the late 1960’s, the Republic of Rose Island operated for approximately fifty-five days before it was overthrown and demolished by the Italian Government. Much like the Principal of Islandia off the coast of Belize, the Republic of Rose Island had its own national day. But, as a much more developed micro nation, Rose Island was equipped with a restaurant, a bar, a night club, and even a post office. The concept caught on, and people were lining up to become citizens of this micro nation. But, when the Government of Italy viewed it as a ploy to avoid national taxation, they quickly moved to take over.
Off Belize, the Principality of Islandia is being dubbed a micro nation experiment by its citizens. Their website says the plan is to use the island paradise to forward their own ideals of democracy, inclusion, and sustainability. But, they say they intend to do this in a manner that is in keeping with, and enhances the laws of their host nation, in this case Belize. The citizens of Islandia are said to be comprised of its investors, customers, and supporters from around the globe. The website offers potential citizens an opportunity to purchase citizenship for twenty dollars, which comes with an e-ID to prove your citizenship. They are also working on producing their own driver’s license and passport for citizens. To its citizens, the idea is really for amusement, a “tongue in cheek”. And many of the investors in the island are said to be simply elated to own a piece of paradise.
Belize, after all, is an officially recognized sovereign state. It already has an established system of governance, its own military, police force, as well as its own national tax regime. Any proposed development within the nation’s boundaries would have to adhere to the laws that govern Belize and its resources. But as a destination within the local and regional tourism industry, there may just be a place for the Principality of Islandia.
Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.
News Five reached out to the B.T.B. for comment, and they told us they are still gathering information on Islandia.