After Waterloo, where British, Dutch and German troops ended Napoleon's comeback on June 18, 1815, negotiations in Vienna to redraw the map of Europe failed to agree who would control the Altenberg mine following the end of French rule over the region.
A rare source of zinc vital for the brass then essential to the arms industry, neither the Prussian king nor the Dutch, whose territory then included modern Belgium, would give ground, but neither they nor their allies had the stomach for a new war.
In June 1816, they agreed to establish Neutral Moresnet, about the size of Monaco today, and to accord its citizens low taxes and freedom from government; a contemporary observer wrote they were "at liberty to do as they please".And pleased they were, even when the zinc became passe. Then they mined other things;
An entrepreneurial spirit marked the community, as witnessed by an inventive response when the mine, the territory's sole raison d'etre, ceased being economically viable in 1885. Local doctor Wilhelm Molly's solution was to make Neutral Moresnet the home of Esperanto, the then newly invented "world language".
Renaming it Amikejo - place of friendship in Esperanto - he promoted international congresses for the language and encouraged its use among the 4,000 German-, Dutch- and French-speaking inhabitants.That only worked until WWI broke out and ended the era of low taxes and limited governmental interference in the lives of the citizens.