GAS Jeans publishes a youthful magazine called the maGASine that has a general “rethink” theme, which highlights everything from art and architecture, to clothes and travel. In one edition, an article called nation obscura highlighted a number of countries that were unknown – either unrecognized internationally, or cast off by its neighbouring countries, whatever the political case may be.
The countries include: Brunei Darussalam, São Tomé and Príncipe, Comoros, Djibouti, Timor-Leste, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, Nauru, Kyrgyzstan and Micronesia.
This leads me to one my favourite authors, Simon Reeve*, who created the 2005 documentary Places That Don’t Exist, which essientially highlights a number of countries, that again – are technically not there.
Some of the countries he visited are: Somaliland, Transniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ajaria, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Somalia, Moldova, Taiwan, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
It makes me question how countries can establish & promote themselves as a nation, despite not being an official nation, recognized by the rest of the world. According to Reeve, there are approximately 200 official countries in the world, but there are dozens of “breakaway states” which are deemed separate or independent. They have their own governments, implemented their own authories, their own passports, and even currency and stamps, but all which mean absolutely nothing to the rest of the world. (For example, their currency, passports and stamps are valid, but aren’t accepted in any other country other than their own.) It’s not just a matter of not being taken seriously, it’s much more contrived. And of course there is a downside, where they are taken advantage of by neighbourging countries, and are often made silent partners in other unsavoury activities.
So how does one (a potential collective) do PR for a nation? Similarly, who does the PR for Canada, and how is it contained? How do one of the above-mentioned nations establish themselves, control how they’re perceived internationally, when they’re stamped with such dismal uncertainty and basically exiled from the rest of the world?
*Simon Reeve produced the 2003 documentary called Meet The Stans, which took him to the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.