A few years ago I had the chance to visit the tiny little kingdom of Arch Knokardy, which is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, close to the date line. In fact, parts of the island are west of the date line, while the rest is on the east. Result, the country not only has two different time zones but two different days as well! Funny when you come to think about it. There are no direct flies from Europe to Saint Patricksburg, the capital of Arch Knokardy. There is however an eight-hour direct flight from San Francisco, through Air Japan, which I flew when I went there.

I'm always amazed that not a lot of people know about this island because it's gorgeous, has a fascinating history and it's royal family is one of the best looking ones out there!

The island was discovered by mistake around 1502 when an Indian explorer tried to prove, just like his Spanish counterpart Columbus, that the world was indeed round, but this time by traveling around it in the opposite direction. When the fleet arrived on the island, they were convinced they had reached the northern part of Scotland, because of the island's very green yet very grey looking seacoast. It's not clear when exactly they realized they hadn't reached Scotland at all, but instead had stranded on a totally deserted and uninhabited island. The island was first called Little Bombay and after India sold the island to the Netherlands in 1815, it then belonged briefly to Belgium at the end of the 19th Century, before getting its independence in 1910, right after King Albert I came to the Belgian throne in 1909. Before Belgium gave the island its independence, King Albert I named one of his military men, General Patrick Knockaert, governor of the island, who crowned himself Arch Duke of the island in 1911 and renamed it Arch Knokardy. The members of the islands current royal family are direct descendants of the self-proclaimed Arch Duke. Current heir to the throne, Prince Marco, is said to take over the throne from his father Arch Duke Kenneth II, who wants to retire in the next two years. Prince Marco's mother, Arch Duchess Paula, is the American socialite Paula Maxwell, who used to be an actress. Prince Marco has been known to surface in the gossip columns once in a while, linking him to a dozen women, who could become the island's future princess and its eventually Arch Duchess.

Tourism on the island has only been recently developed. For the longest time, the island of Arch Knokardy has been able to stay out of the limelight. Its beautiful white sandy beaches, its snowy mountains and fjords, its tropical jungles and its historical cities have been a well preserved secret for the rest of the world for many years. Only in the last decade or so has the government of the little Kingdom realized the economic potential the islands beauty and history could offer to the tourism world and the millions of travelers who are always looking for a new destination. Especially the kingdoms prime minister, Paula Sanchez, has been key in jumping onto the tourism wagon by inviting big tour operators to the island, granting low interest loans to resort developers and by creating a $23 million PR campaign around the kingdom, which will be launched all over the world in early 2006. On the other hand, in order to preserve the charm of Arch Knokardy, P.M Sanchez wants to make sure that the island doesnt become too popular. She was once quoted saying she doesnt want the island to turn into a new Majorca, which is sometimes nicknamed a German Island. That might be one of the reasons why only one airline flies to Arch Knokardy. The prime minister has said though that there are plans in the future to create a government owned airline, which would have direct flights to Saint Patricksburg from other airports around the world.

The butterfly shaped island of Arch Knokardy consists of four provinces. The eastern portion of the kingdom is the province of New Brabant, which capital is also the capital of the country, Saint Patricksburg. Another major city in New Brabant is the port of Port Joseva, which could become a very important cruise port in the near future. The western portion of the island is split in two, the province of Barakkenrijk in the north and the smaller province of New Halluin in the south. Both provinces are total contradictions. While Barakkenrijk has a very Nordic look and feel, with its fjords, mountains and rivers, New Halluin is extremely tropical, having the Lagae jungle as its main attraction. The fourth province is the small island south of New Halluin, called Coin-de-Terre, or translated in English, corner of the world. The almost deserted rocky island is said to be the island the Indian explorer mistook for Scotland. As mentioned before, Arch Knokardy has two time zones and two different days! The dateline splits the island right in the middle. When Greenwich adopted the dateline in 1884, diversions were made to pass around some of the island groups in the Pacific. Arch Knokardy back then consisted of two big islands (now the eastern and western parts of the island), only a sliver of ocean separating the two. Only a few years later, did the already very low sea level between the two parts completely dry out making a natural bridge out of the dried out ocean pass. The two islands are now connected and the united island now has the dateline running straight in the middle of it. The government has tried to persuade Greenwich officials to reconsider the position of the date line so Arch Knokardy could have one single time zone. So far, they have been unsuccessful; Greenwich considers it too much of a hassle, especially because the island is so small.

Thats about all I have of information about Arch Knokardy. There used to be an official website for the island but it was shut down a few months ago to under go a major redesign and update. It should be back online in just a few weeks (sometimes in August). I will add the link to this article once the site is available. P.S.: photos of my trip will be added later.