The Kingdom the Mapmakers Forgot

1992 saw the birth of a new nation: the Kingdom of Torgu. If you happened to overlook this momentous occasion, don’t feel bad. The whole reason the new country sprang into existence was because of the people in charge of drawing the maps overlooked the area to begin with.

The early 1990’s saw the birth of many nations, springing out of the breakup of the old Soviet Union. Estonia was one such nation. Shortly after it gained its independence, Estonia was still trying to figure out such mundane details as its new constitution and how the country was going to be divided up for the most effective municipal governance. While the powers that be were focusing on these details, the civil servants who were in charge of creating the new maps with the municipal dividing lines got distracted while dealing with the Sõrve peninsula on the island of Saaremaa. The island was supposed to be divided into two municipalities, Salme and Torgu parish. Instead, the final, published version of the documents revealed that planners forgot all about Torgu parish entirely. As a result, the 48.8 square-mile area was not governed by Estonia’s constitution.

Rather than feel slighted by this oversight, the 500 residents of the forgotten territory used the occasion to their advantage. They created their own nation — a kingdom, actually. The Kingdom of Torgu was proclaimed as a sovereign state.

Setting the stage for a kingdom based on law, rather than bloodshed or claim of divine right of kings, the citizens of Torgu selected their sovereign by general election. On September 5, 1992, journalist Kirill Teiter, was declared the duly-elected king, and he assumed the throne as His Majesty Kirill I. His coronation took place on November 28, 1992.

There are certain things every nation needs. Having taken care of the first — a lawful ruler — the other matters needed to be addressed. The Kingdom adopted a coat of arms consisting of a snail-dragon, a flag, and an official coin of the realm. The exchange rate for the official currency, the kirill, was set at one kirill equal to the price of a half-liter of local vodka.

Estonia took corrective action to bring Torgu back within its fold the next year, and the residents of the Kingdom willingly and peacefully consented to the dissolution of their monarchy. King Kirill gave up the throne, having spent most of his reign in exile, and is now remembered as the first and only sovereign of the nation.

Although Estonian law now governs the former nation, memories of the Kingdom’s glory days still burn bright. Visitors to the territory can still find Torgu flags and the coat of arms proudly displayed on homes and businesses.


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