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Principality of Pontinha

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Principality of Pontinha

Principado da Pontinha  (Portuguese)
Flag of the Principality of Pontinha
Coat of arms
Motto: Verba volant, scripta manent (Latin)
Words fly, writing remains
Map of Pontinha
Map of Pontinha
and settlement
Fort of Saint José [pt][3]
32°38′27″N 16°54′55″W / 32.64083°N 16.91528°W / 32.64083; -16.91528

Official languagesFortense (Portuguese)
Ethnic groups
Roman Catholic
Organizational structureConstitutional monarchy
• Prince
D. Renato Barros
Hilário Rebolo
Area claimed
• Total
0.000178 km2 (6.9×10−5 sq mi)[3]
HDI (2008)0.893a
very high
Purported currencyBitcoin (Ƀ)b (BTC)
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
• Summer (DST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
  1. The HDI value used is the one calculated for the Madeira autonomous region.
The Principality of Pontinha, January 2017

The Principality of Pontinha is a self-proclaimed micronation on an islet connected to Madeira Island, Portugal by a port.[4] The fortified islet was self-proclaimed an independent principality in 2007 by Renato Barros, self-entitled as Prince Renato, the owner of the piece of land.[5][6]


The islet and its fort were property of the Portuguese state until king Carlos I of Portugal sold the islet on 9 October 1903 to the Blandy family of Madeira, traditionally involved in winemaking. The money was needed by the king to develop the port of Funchal.

In 2000, the Madeiran art teacher Renato de Barros bought the islet and fort from the Blandys for 9,000 contos (the equivalent to ~€45,000), with the aim of studying wave power.[7] In November 2007, Renato Barros presented a "request for the detachment of the Principality of the Island of Pontinha" to Monteiro Diniz, the sovereign's representative in the Autonomous Region of Madeira. Subsequently, Renato Barros declared the independence of the islet, calling it the Principality of Pontinha and entitling himself its Prince. According to Barros, at the time of the sale of the islet by the king, a royal charter was issued to the buyer, granting them not only the possession of the islet but also the "dominion" over it (meaning, according to Barros, the charter conceded sovereignty over the landmass to its owner since 1903).[5][6]

The Royal Charter of 26 October 1903 reads as follows:

In December 2015, bitcoin became the official currency of the country.[8]

In 2016, a documentary entitled A Sovereign Dream about Renato Barros and his Principality was released in the Madeira Film Festival.[9][10]

In February 2017, José Manuel Coelho, a Madeiran politician known for his bizarre deeds, asked for political asylum in the self-declared principality, which was granted by the self-proclaimed Prince Renato Barros.[11]


  1. Middleton 2015, p. 98.
  2. "Site do Principado (Forte de São José) - Principality of the Pontinha National Anthem". Archived from the original on 2016-08-02. Retrieved 2017-01-14. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Middleton 2015, p. 99.
  4. Bicudo de Castro, Vincente; Hayward, Philip (2021). "The metamorphosis of Madeira's Ilhéu do Diego into Forte de São José and the short-lived Principado do Ilhéu da Pontinha" (PDF). Transformations. 35: 40–51.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Barros, Renato (14 November 2014). "Experience: I founded my own country". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Heilpern, Will (9 June 2016). "A man who turned a tiny island into his own country says the Portuguese government is threatening him with 'military power'". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 21 November 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. "Reportagem - O 'Príncipe' do Forte". Diário de Notícias da Madeira - Revista Mais. 20 January 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  8. Dotson, Kyt (15 December 2015). "A tiny island off the coast of Portugal just became the first country with Bitcoin as its official currency". Silicon Angle. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. "Um Sonho Soberano (2016) - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  10. "Filme de Gonçalo Guerra sobre o "príncipe do ilhéu da Pontinha" estreia hoje na Madeira" [A film by Gonçalo Guerra about the "Prince of the Pontinha Islet" premieres today in Madeira]. Diário de Notícias da Madeira (in português). 30 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  11. "Vídeo mostra como Coelho pediu asilo político ao principado da Pontinha para escapar à prisão" [Video shows how Coelho asked for political asylum to the Principality of Pontinha to avoid prison]. Diário de Notícias da Maderia (in português). 6 February 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2018.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

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