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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fact Check – Viral EU Country Listenbourg with Own National Anthem Actually Doesn’t Exist

Taking the internet by storm, this EU member state called Listenbourg has become a classic meme material now

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EUROPE: A haphazardly photoshopped map of a fictional country located in the Iberian peninsula is all it took to baffle social media netizens and revisit debates about basic geography.

Taking the internet by storm, this EU member state called Listenbourg, with its own national anthem and the national flag has become classic meme material as netizens began to circulate maps of it on Twitter. But there is a catch- Listenbourg is not a real country; it does not exist.

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In the beginning, the viral sensation started out as a harmless joke, a snarky jab at Americans and their malnourished knowledge of basic geography.

A Twitter user named Gaspardo, claiming to be the President of Listenbourg, began the whole ruse, saying: “I’m sure Americans don’t even know the name of this country,” attached with the map visual showing a red arrow on a European tract of land liberally added to Spain and Portugal, indicating the fictional country of Listenbourg.

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Another user replied to the tweet and wrote: “Who does not know Listenbourg?”– the meme was born, and the rest is history.

When the conversation around a fictional country began, the Twitter post had garnered more than 95,000 likes. Social media users then flocked to the post, retweeting it on Twitter and gradually sharing concocted theories about Listenbourg.

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One Twitter user took the viral trolling to the next level, proving it was real by posting a high-definition satellite map replacing the original one.

On Reddit, another media forum, a channel dedicated to Listenbourg, with almost 2,000 “Listenbourgeois” citizens, produced claims that the EU nation has its own Formula 1 Grand Prix and that its team of astronauts were part of a Moon-landing mission.

Others joined in on the fun, organizing claims about a so-called “extreme-centre party”, whose leader pledged to “improve Listenbourg’s image abroad”.

Another allegedly claimed that the country is equipped with its own Ministry of Interior, which agreed to address questions regarding the nation’s identity and document processes or visa procedures.

Listenbourg also has its own national anthem and a professionally-curated national flag, a red-and-white flag sporting a golden eagle, doing the rounds on YouTube, which became an official account.

Moreover, Listenbourg has a rich history of so-called Listen XV, the first Sun King, who went to battle against Luis XIV for the prestigious title in 1661.

Meanwhile, the joke got a bit out of hand as users were actually beginning to retweet the history of Listenbourg, believing it to be a true country which exists on the geographical map of Europe.

Apparently, Julien Febreau, a famous French sports commentator for Canal+ and others, expressed a tongue-in-cheek request for Listenbourg to join international sports competitions.

The entire ruse initially emerged after Europeans began to notice the laxity with which US media networks would research their news stories in incorrect geographical locations.

Back in 2005, France became a victim of a serious mix-up when CNN mistakenly placed Toulouse and Strasbourg in Switzerland and Germany.

CNN also placed the Ukrainian Donbas region in Pakistan- an entire continent away- after war broke out in the eastern European nation in 2014.

Slovakia and Slovenia are constantly stuck in a name mix-up, and so often that, Slovenia even considered redesigning its flag in 2014 to prevent any further blunders.

Listenbourg’s emergence in internet history is just another reminder that a single artificially-brewed piece of information can gain a viral degree of traction, fooling users and netizens into circulating false theories about a fake country, proving that everyone needs a good geography lesson once in a while.

Also Read: Fact Check – 18th Century Connecticut Man Was No ‘Vampire’ but a Victim of TB

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