Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, can be said to boast of a neighborhood like no other: one that became an independent state, based on Aristotle’s principles.
Meaning “beyond the river” or “the other side of the river” in the Lithuanian language, Uzupis declared itself an independent republic in 1997.
Located in a small and isolated area of approximately one square kilometer within the capital, the self-declared independent state is founded upon Aristotle’s basic idea that every great city must have a small population.
According to Tomas Cepaitis, the state’s foreign minister, a good state must be a small one with a population of no more than 5,000 people, as that is exactly how many different people the human brain can recognize.
This manageable size makes it possible for Uzupis’ citizens to control the government and to know if someone, for example, intends to steal or to engage in nepotism or patronism in jobs.
Until Lithuania became an independent state in 1990, the neighborhood of Uzupis was neglected and abandoned, with ruined houses and a high crime rate. However, it also served as a common meeting place for the artists and bohemians of Vilnius.
Following the country’s independence and the revitalization that followed, some of the area’s inhabitants decided to take the extraordinary step of establishing an ”independent state,” one that would promote their own values of peace and co-existence.
The state of Uzupis, although not officially recognized by any country, has its own flag, currency, president, ministers, constitution, national anthem, and an army of approximately ten men, most of whom have already retired.