US

A Man Started His Own 'Sovereign' Nation in Rural Utah as Response to Bush Presidency. Here's How It's Going

"It started as kind of a tongue-in-cheek joke..."

Meet Zachary Landsberg, a Brooklyn man who bought a parcel of land in rural Utah on eBay and declared it sovereign in response to President George W. Bush's administration.

Zaqistan, as he calls it, was established by Landsberg and his group of friends in 2005 on a two-acre parcel of land in Box Elder County, Utah.

"I figured I could run a country better than the Bush administration and maybe I should," explained Landsberg in an interview with TheBlaze this month. "[T]hat was sort of the kernel of the Zaquistan idea.

"Zaqistan has been independent from the United States, de facto sovereign for the last 10 years," he added.

Step Inside The 'Sovereign' Nation of Zaqistan:

"It started as kind of a tongue-in-cheek joke and reaction to the Bush administration," he continued. "But over the last 10 years I say the joke has gotten more serious."

While a nation with a military, economy and population might not consider his effort serious, Zaqistan has managed to gain coverage from several major media outlets including Vice, New York Magazine, The Daily Mail and now TheBlaze.

Zaquistan, as it exists in physical reality, is a remote plot of desert land that features a bunker, customs booth, and several monuments, but no permanent citizens.

Although Landsberg recognizes it may be difficult or impossible to gain formal recognition from the United States or other world powers, he continues to go through many of the formalities.

His fledgling micro-state has a flag, which bears a giant squid, passports, the customs booth and its own motto: "Something From Nothing."

Zaquistan's uncertain status on the world stage, however, has lead to at least one diplomatic snafu, according to Landsberg.

When flying back into Los Angeles International Airport from a mission in South America, Landsberg says he was stopped and briefly detained by confused TSA agents who had questions about paraphernalia he was carrying including a stack of blank passports.

"They rifled through all my stuff," he said. "They found these passports and started taking apart all these displays I brought back... They started grilling me like 'what are these?'"

That incident was eventually smoothed over, and he says he was allowed to go on his way, but not before learning a larger lesson.

"That's when I realized this rift of understanding wasn't going to be bridged easily," said Landsberg.

The political friction perhaps pales in comparison to the challenges presented by the harsh realities of the desert climate in which his land is situated.

"The reality is its real harsh and real desolate," said Landsberg. "Its extremely hot during the day. Its really cold at night. Its on the edge of a mud flat that turns into a salt flat."

One structure, a small geodesic dome, has already been swept away by the elements, he said.

Even getting there can be difficult.

Its "50-past the last gas station, 15-miles on dirt roads, two-miles walking in the dirt," Landsberg told TheBlaze.

Any one who has a sincere desire to be part of Landsberg's project can become a "citizen" by filling out a form on his website and paying a $40 application fee.

As far as the future, Landsberg said he holds out some hope for international recognition but more immediate goals are to create infrastructure to make it more livable and to continue to enjoy the land as it is.

"For me this patch of nothing, where its sometimes its so quiet you can hear your own heartbeat, functions as a pressure relief valve," he said. "It is intensely quiet and peaceful."

Follow Josiah Ryan on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram:

Twitter (@JosiahRyan) and Instagram (@ahhdannyboy.)

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