Republic of Minerva

From Kook Science

Republic of Minerva
Status Defunct; physical territory annexed by Tonga in 1972
Official languages English
 •  Founded by Ocean Life Research Foundation
 •  Provisional President Morris C. Davis
Declared nation
 •  Declaration of Independence 19 Jan. 1972 
 •  Occupied by Tonga (North Minerva Reef) 19 June 1972 
 •  Occupied by Tonga (South Minerva Reef) 21 June 1972 
Currency Minerva dollars
179°00 W 23°40 S
The Minerva Reefs, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on 26 Jan. 2002

The Republic of Minerva was a self-declared state, officially proclaimed on 19 January 1972 by a group including Michael Oliver, a real estate investor, and other members of the Ocean Life Research Foundation, that claimed sovereignty over the Minerva Reefs (also known as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga), a pair of submerged atolls in the south Pacific Ocean, situated some 300 mi. (480 km.) south-west of the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa. Six months after declaring itself independent, Minerva's physical territory was occupied by Tongan expeditionary forces: the North Minerva Reef on 19 June 1972, and the South Minerva Reef on 21 June 1972; the Kingdom of Tonga's claims to the atolls were upheld by the South Pacific Forum three months later.

After the failure of Minerva, Oliver, under the auspices of the Phoenix Foundation, threw his support behind the Abaco Independence Movement, a political group that sought the secession of the Abaco islands (as the Abaco Commonwealth) from the independent Bahamas in the 1970s. The provisional president-in-exile, Morris C. Davis, meanwhile continued in his efforts to promote Minerva as a legitimate state, though these came to little. In October 2003, a self-declared successor state, the Principality of Minerva, launched a website and published their own claims to the atolls, but this most recent effort drew only limited attention, the site ceasing to exist just a few years later.

Press Coverage


  • Reuters, "GROUP BUILDS OWN NATION IN S. PACIFIC", Los Angeles Times (27 Jan. 1972): 33,, "Mark Oliver, a U.S. citizen who said he is one of three directors of the foundation, said in Suva Wednesday their intention was initially to build a port and later a 'sea city' as a haven for people who wanted to escape crippling taxes, riots, crime and drug addicts. 'We decided on Minerva after a worldwide search because research showed conclusively that the reefs did not belong to anyone,' he said. 'By international law one can claim by annexation only land above the sea that can be built upon. We have met this requirement by constructing two small islands of coral and sand on the reefs.'" 
  • McCrary, Lacy (13 Feb. 1972), "Emerging In Pacific: A Tiny New Nation", Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, OH): E-1, E-5, 
  • Windsor, John (3 Apr. 1972), "Small Summit", The Guardian (London, UK): 9,, "Now, the leaders of independent Fiji, Nauru, Tonga, Western Samo and the self-governing Cook Islands, a New Zealand dependency — all members of the newly formed South Pacific Forum — are refusing to recognize Minerva. And Fiji and Tonga have become positively hostile[...] One tiny nation did recognise Minerva. The sultanate of Ocussi Ambino on the island of Timor in the Malay Archipelago invited diplomatic relations in January. The Portuguese Embassy, whose territory it is, says that Portugal hasn't recognised Minerva and that Ocussi Ambino has no business to without asking Portugal's permission." 

Tongan Occupation