New Nation Emerges in the Pacific Ocean

Zimbabwean academic claims uninhabited island and declares it a sovereign state

by Victor Adetimilehin

A Zimbabwean-born professor has made history by creating a new nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


Webiston Jokonya, a 45-year-old academic with multiple PhDs, announced the formation of the United Republic of Delvin (URD) on September 5, 2023. The URD is located on Howland Island, a tiny and remote territory that was previously unclaimed and uninhabited.


Jokonya, who was born and raised in rural Hurungwe in Zimbabwe, said he decided to start his own country to protect his family from the global crises. He named the island after his last-born son, who was born during the lockdown period.


A Dream Come True


According to a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, Jokonya said he had been researching how to start a country for a long time, and discovered that he only needed two permanent residents and a defined territory to do so.


He then searched for unclaimed islands in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and found Howland Island, which lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia. He travelled to the island with his family and some friends, and declared it a sovereign state.


He also appointed himself as the first Prime Minister of the URD, and invited investors and diplomats to join his new nation.


“The URD welcomes all investors and as a new government we want to make diplomatic ties with the global world,” Jokonya said in his declaration speech.


“We have one international seaport called Port Howland located on the South East Pole and one biggest city called Nashville city, where the international airport of Amelia International Airport is located.”


A Challenging Environment


Howland Island is a small coral island with an area of only 160 hectares. It has an equatorial climate with little rainfall, constant wind and intense sunshine. It has no fresh water source and relies on desalination plants for drinking water. Its natural resources include guano, a substance made from the excrement of bats and birds, which can be used as a fertilizer.


The island was established as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974 by the United States, which also claims sovereignty over it.


However, Jokonya said he was not aware of any dispute over the island, and hoped to resolve any issues peacefully. He said he had plans to develop the island into a modern and sustainable nation, with renewable energy, agriculture, tourism and technology.


A Micro-Nation with A Big Vision


The URD is one of the many micro-nations that exist around the world, which are self-proclaimed entities that are not recognized by the international community.


Some of them are based on historical, cultural or political claims, while others are created for fun, art or activism. The URD currently has only 36 registered citizens, who are mostly from Asia and Europe.


Jokonya said he was open to accepting more people who share his vision and values. He said he wanted to create a nation that is democratic, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive.


He stated that  he was confident that his dream would come true, and that the URD would become a successful and respected nation in the future.


“I believe that the URD will be a shining example of what a small nation can achieve, and a beacon of hope for the world.” he said.

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