King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV is dead, long live the king

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The king of Tonga, whose name is in the headline of this post (you don't think I'm actually typing that again, do you?) recently passed on. He was identified in this great Telegraph obit as "the world's only Methodist sovereign and for many years, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's heaviest" -- check out the awesome evidence at left -- but we at mental_floss remember him for another record of sorts: he was responsible for "history's most minor act of colonialism." From our How-To Issue:

How to Colonize a Nation

Supplies Needed: 1 nation (preferably with a weak government), 1 invading force, 1 ceremonial brass band (optional), plenty of moxie

Step 1: Pick a target

Admittedly, this step used to be easier back in the 18th century, when it was open season on any landmass -- no matter how large -- provided you had guns and the other guy didn't. Nowadays, though, you should probably stick to colonizing tiny nations that can't fight back. Luckily, the Pacific Ocean is home to plenty of these. In fact, it's estimated there are more than 20,000 islands in the Pacific, many of which are simply ripe for the plucking. Need more inspiration? Consider the case of The Republic of Minerva, a would-be libertarian paradise established in 1972 by Nevada businessman Michael Oliver. Minerva's governing principle was the absence of income taxes. Instead, Oliver opted for a system that gave businesses and individuals special incentives for contributing to the government (sort of like a high-stakes version of the PBS pledge drive). Of course, this also meant Minerva had no standing army.

Step 2: Make a good impression

If you really clinch this step, you might not have to fire a shot at all. Just ask Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the king of Tonga, a nation located roughly 260 miles east of The Republic of Minerva. About five months after Michael Oliver founded Minerva, King Tupou arrived to greet -- and conquer -- his new neighbor. Reports of history's most minor act of colonialism vary, but it apparently involved one of more of the following: a military gunboat, a convict work detail, a rowboat manned by the king, and a royal ceremonial brass band. At any rate, the invasion was successful. On June 21, 1972, the Minervan flag was hauled down and the atoll became part of the Kingdom of Tonga, under whose domain it has remained for more than 30 years.

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September 12, 2006 - 11:26am
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