While this American searched the entire African continent for a piece of land to call his Kingdom, Renato Barros managed to establish his own country much closer to home. The 56-year-old Portuguese citizen purchased a small island on Funchal harbor, in Maderia, Portugal. He named it the Principality of the Pontinha, and anointed himself Prince Renato II.
Pontinha is actually just the size of a one-bedroom house, and has only four citizens – Barros, his wife, and his son and daughter. In addition to his Portuguese passport, Barros holds a passport for Pontinha with the number 0001. An art teacher by profession, he’s also taken on the roles of policeman, gardener, caretaker, and member of the royal family of his very own country.
“I am whatever I want to be – that’s the dream, isn’t it,” he said. “If I decide I want to have a national song, I can choose it, and I can change it any time. The same with my flag – it could be blue today, red tomorrow. Of course, my power is only absolute here, where I am the true sovereign.”
Barros got a chance to buy the island fourteen years ago, when it was owned by a wealthy British family who wanted to sell it for 25,000 Euros ($31,000), because it was of no use to them. Nobody wanted to buy it, but when Barros heard of the opportunity at a party, he decided that it was just the thing for him. There was only one snag – he didn’t have the money.