To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

British family-owned sea fort is technically 'the world's smallest country'

British family-owned sea fort is technically 'the world's smallest country'

Although the word 'technically' is doing some work for us, there.

There are plenty of small countries on Earth, from Luxembourg to Vatican City, but if you want to find the smallest of them all, you have to think a little outside the box.

One family originally from the UK claims to live in the smallest sovereign country, and it's actually nothing more than a small sea fort 12km off the Suffolk coast.

Called Sealand, and with the nature of its sovereignty a matter of some debate, the fort was built by the UK government during the Second World War, in 1942, and then used for a couple of decades before being abandoned in 1956.

Evening Standard / Stringer / Getty
Evening Standard / Stringer / Getty

Around a decade later, it jumped into the limelight when Paddy Roy Bates, a radio DJ, made it his base of operations.

This was in the days of pirate radio, and the UK was passing the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967, which cracked down on ships and boats that were being used to broadcast.

In response, Bates declared that his base would become the Principality of Sealand, independent from the UK.

Moving his family into the fort, Bates became the Prince of Sealand. Later in life, he moved back to the UK, and his son Michael took over operations.

The family has diversified its income, though, and now runs a cockle-farming business to make ends meet.

Unbelievably, in the decades since it was established, there have been some crazy episodes around the ocean fort.

It's seen its occupants taken hostage by a former Sealand prime minister's hired mercenaries, and Bates was also called to court after firing warning shots at the British Navy at one point.

This was because the Navy was destroying all the other abandoned forts it had built that now stood in international waters, but Bates wouldn't allow the same to happen to Sealand.

Of course, whether you accept that Sealand is actually a real country ultimately comes down to your attitude, since its status isn't recognized internationally.

Roc Canals / Getty
Roc Canals / Getty

Still, it has its own flag and national anthem, and in theory a process for acquiring a visa - although Sealand's website stresses: "It's crucial to understand that permission to submit a visa application is highly unlikely."

It all begs the question of what it would be like to actually live on such a tiny platform for decades at a time. The Bates family clearly must have found something about the experience gratifying, since they've stayed there for so long at this point.

Probably the best showcase of what the inside of the fort actually looks like was given by YouTuber Zac Alsop a couple of years ago since he managed to negotiate his way onboard to look around.

You can check out its cramped living quarters and quirky rough edges, to see if you think you could survive with it as your home.

Featured Image Credit: BEN STANSALL / Contributor / Getty / Zac Alsop / YouTube