What do Icaria, Minerva, Ciskei, the Republic of Natal, Tortuga, and the Kingdom of Tavolara have in common? All made brief appearances on the world stage as independent states. James L. Erwin's Footnotes to History is a fascinating web site that lists scores of short-lived countries. It's a reminder that self-determination is difficult and that it takes more to make a state than a piece of real estate and high ideals--or low ideals in the case of Tanna, Galveston, and many others. Even the august Republic of Texas lasted less than ten years (although some Texans seem to be intent on changing that).