In 1971, Eli Avivi and his wife, Rina, ripped up their Israeli passports and were hauled off to jail, where they were charged with destroying passports and "creating a country without permission," per the BBC. That charge was eventually dropped, but their "country," Akhzivland, is still kicking. Located just north of the Israeli city of Nahariya, near the Lebanon border, the 3.5-acre Akhzivland has just two citizens (the Avivis), a national flag complete with mermaid, a national anthem (the sound of the sea), and a House of Parliament, the BBC notes. It features its own passport, and 85-year-old Avivi is president for life—"democratically elected by his own vote." Even though Israel doesn't recognize his state status, Avivi's reign would almost make him the longest-serving ruler in the region, second only to the sultan of Oman.
Born in Iran, Avivi moved to Israel at a young age. He became a soldier, fighting in Israel's War of Independence, but he soon became disillusioned and started his own state in an abandoned Arab fishing village called Akhziv, per a 2014 article in the Daily Beast. "I loved Israel. I fought for Israel. But I didn't like the government," he told Lonely Planet in 2009. He's had some skirmishes with the Israeli government over the years: He says he suffered broken bones when he refused to get out of the way of bulldozers trying to raze Akhziv into a national park in 1963, and in 1971 officials put a fence around his property to cut off his beach access. Oddly enough, Israel more or less leaves Avivi alone these days, even erecting an official sign on the road nearby that points to "Eli Avivi." "I'm stronger now than before," he tells the BBC. "There's nothing they can do or say to me." (Meanwhile, Texas secessionists make their own currency and prepare for an invasion by … Oklahoma.)