This is the first travel book to be written about Molvania. Why has it taken so long to write a guide to this Central European backwater? Well, it’s had its fair share of civil wars, natural disasters and brutal dictators, but also because it doesn’t exist.

Molvania is a spoof travel guide and certainly not a subtle one. The opening chapter looks at economic exports (mainly beetroot) and the country’s principal religion (Baltic Orthodox). It’s like Catholicism, but you can smoke in church. The native language is a tricky one with its silent letters and triple negatives (can I drink the water? becomes is it not that the water is not not undrinkable?). The National Anthem’s contentious third verse* is the talk of Parliament, which itself is run by warlords.

Travel guides can be irritating, self-important, factually incorrect and unhelpfully subjective. Molvania is all these things and more. Alongside content it satirises format, using bolded type and bizarre icons to highlight areas of the text. Phrases like ‘terrible human rights record’ and ‘inflammatory disease of the knee’ jump out of the page.

It raises the wider question of what to put in and what to leave out. If you go away for a weekend do you really need to know the influence of the Visigoths or a two page analysis of agricultural reform? Lonely Planet seems to be the main target with its pithy accommodation guide and half drawn maps, but other guides are also sent-up.

The unchecked promotion of eco-tourism takes a deserved kicking along with the sanctimonious tone of environmental responsibility. The line is drawn between the constitution of useful information and the author preaching about the destruction of the planet.

Personally, I believe guidebooks should break their accommodation reviews into Pricey, Budget and Likely to Feature Pissed Australians. The authors of Molvania will no doubt add this to their forthcoming Kazakhstan on a Dollar a Month.

I’m amazed it’s taken so long for a book like this to appear and rather annoyed I didn’t think of it myself.

Harmony and peace shall reign
All invaders will be crushed
Crushed we sing now, crushed
We shall drive the gypsy curse from our land