In the 1820s, many Europeans saw the value of investing in the exploration and exploitation of the New World. Governments were being organized up and down the map, and natural resources were there for the taking. People wanted to emigrate, too, and start all over in a rich and exotic place. In this atmosphere, Scotsman Gregor MacGregor stepped in and offered in investment opportunity in a nation he owned, an attractive Latin American coastal plot called Poyais.
MacGregor claimed that Poyais covered 8m acres (an area larger than Wales). It was rich in natural resources but in need of development. That would require both cash and manpower. Through an elaborate publicity campaign, he succeeded in persuading people not only to invest their savings in the bonds of a non-existent government, but also to emigrate to a fictional country. How on earth did he manage it?