August 15, 2022

Here we were dreaming of owning a house

It is something we’ve all probably dreamed of – owning our own island.

But normally it is something reserved for only the very rich and famous.

But, that’s not the case for two mates, Gareth Johnson and Marshall Mayer, who launched a project in 2018 to crowdsource enough money to make the dream come true. And it did.

The pair are the co-founders of Let’s Buy An Island, a fun idea that turned into a reality when they raised £250,000 through investors and purchased an uninhabited island in the Caribbean, promising to develop the area for tourism, share the profits and allow everyone to live their own “private island fantasy”.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Johnson, who is CEO of the project, said: “Who hasn’t dreamed of making their own country?”

“Particularly in a post-Trump, post-Brexit, Covid world. If a bunch of regular people can make this work, perhaps it can be a force for good.”

By December 2019, the mates raised enough money to buy Coffee Caye, a 1.2-acre island off the coast of Belize – which became reimagined as the “Principality of Islandia”.

While the new micronation isn’t recognised officially, it already has its own national flag, anthem, and government.

“We are as close to a nation as you can get, without getting an army and a navy,” Johnson said.

The idea popped into Johnson’s head some 15 years ago and he bought the domain name letsbuyanisland.com, deciding that it could be fun to start a micronation.

Mayer met Johnson through a Young Pioneers Tours trip. Johnson co-founded the company, which specialises in extreme tourism to destinations like North Korea and Syria and unrecognised states such as Transnistria, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Mayer said: “When Gareth first put the idea to me, I thought God no, this will never become a reality.

“But he began to explain how much an island might cost, and we realized that actually, there are parts of the world where buying an island was much more realistic than I’d ever thought possible, especially if we clubbed our funds together.”

The pair allow people to become investors in the island for just under £2,500 or citizens for a donation. According to the letsbuyanisland.com website, they currently have 96 investors and 249 citizens.

Read more about Coffee Caye on CNN Travel.

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