Then there’s Elgaland-Vargaland, which was thought up by two Swedish artists – and is meant to consist of all the areas of “No Man’s Land” across the world, including the land marking the borders between other nations and any bits of the sea outside another country’s territorial waters; any time you have travelled abroad, you have passed through Elgaland-Vargaland. In fact, of all the countries Middleton has looked at, this is the closest to his starting point, Narnia – since the artists claim that any time you enter a dream, or let your mind wander, you have also crossed a border and temporarily taken a trip into Elgaland-Vargaland.
Atlantium and Elgaland-Vargaland may be a little too fanciful for most people to take very seriously – Middleton admires them more as an attempt to provoke wider debate on international relations. “They all raise the possibility that countries as we know them are not the only legitimate basis for ordering the planet,” he wrote in his book.
One thing’s certain – the world is in constant flux. “No one my age thought that the Soviet Union would fall to bits – there can be big unexpected changes,” he says. New countries are always being born, while old ones vanish. In the deep future, every territory we know could eventually become a country that doesn’t exist.
David Robson is BBC Future’s feature writer. He is @d_a_robson on twitter.
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