Conch Republic

From Academic Kids

Conch Republic

Flag of Conch Republic
Flag of Conch Republic

National motto:
"we seceded where others failed"
Capital Key West
Prime Minister Dennis Wardlow
 – Declared
 – Celebrated
 – Recognition
(From the United States)
 – April 23, 1982
 – April 23
 – none
Currency Conch shells
Time zone UTC -5

The Conch Republic was an imaginary nation in the Florida Keys, after Key West and nearby islands pretended to secede from the United States of America. This has been described as "tongue-in-cheek", but it was motivated by frustration over genuine concerns.

In 1982, the United States Border Patrol established a roadblock and inspections point on U.S. Highway 1, which runs north from Key West over a series of causeways and is the Keys' only land link to the mainland. Vehicles were stopped and searched for narcotics and illegal immigrants. The Key West City Council complained repeatedly about the inconvenience for people traveling from Key West and said it hurt the Keys' important tourism industry. As a matter of a fact, Eastern Airlines, which had a hub at Miami International Airport, saw a window of opportunity open when the roadblocks were established, and, as a consequence, Eastern became the only airline to establish jet service to Key West International Airport, figuring that travellers from Key West to Miami would rather fly than wait for the police to search their cars at the roadblocks.

After the complaints from the Key West City Council went unanswered by the Federal Government and attempts to get an injunction against the "blockade" failed in court, Key West mayor Dennis Wardlow and the city council declared the independence of the Conch Republic on April 23, 1982. Since the Federal Government had set up the equivalent of a border station as if the Keys were a foreign nation, they said, the Keys might as well become one. Mayor Wardlow was proclaimed Prime Minister of the republic, which declared war against the U.S. (symbolically breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man in a navy uniform), quickly surrendered (after one minute), and applied for foreign aid (in the amount of one billion dollars). These actions generated great publicity for the Keys' plight. The roadblock and inspection station were removed soon afterward.

Although the Conch Republic was "independent" for less than a day, many in Key West continue to identify with it. The Conch Republic flag (showing a conch shell in a sun burst on a field of blue) is commonly seen in the city, and Conch "Independence Day" is celebrated with festivities every April 23.

The Conch Republic issued its own postage stamps (or perhaps cinderellas).


  • It is featured in the first volume of the Dallas Barr series of comics.
  • A short lived Drama/Comedy series on FOX in 1992 called "Key West" had an episode depicting a fictionalized version of this incident.

External links

de:Conch Republic he:רפובליקת קונץ'


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