Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, can be said to boast a neighborhood like few others: 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 around one square kilometer within the capital, the self-declared independent state is founded upon Aristotle’s basic idea that every great city needs to have a small population.
According to Tomas Cepaitis, the state’s foreign minister, a good state needs to be a small state with a population of no more than 5,000 people, as the human brain cannot recall more people than that. This gives the opportunity and the right to Uzupis’ citizens to control the government and to know if someone intends to steal or to engage in patronism.
Until Lithuania became an independent state in 1990, the neighborhood of Uzupis was neglected and abandoned, with destroyed houses and a high crime rate. However, it was also a common meeting place for the artists and bohemians of Vilnius.
Following the country’s independence and its revitalization, 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 10 men, most of whom have already retired.