If you ever wondered what it would be like to govern a country, I can assure you its no easy task if you try your hand at CyberNations, a free browser-based simulation game that allows you to create a country and control everything from taxes, ethnicity, currency, religion and how your rule the country, whether by government politics, dictatorship, royal bloodlines and so on. You can even decide to be a peaceful, neutral or a warlike country.

Upon logging in for the first time you must decide on the name of your new country. (Mine was Lalaland with the capital city of DayDream.) Be careful of the names you pick, because once you have chosen a name, it’s permanent. Once you’ve decided on the name of your country you must pick from 12 different team colors. Note: Picking a color is just that, picking a color for your team. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are in alliance with another country using the same team colors, or that you’ll be unable to make peace or join an alliance with a country using a different team color. This game allows total freedom to govern your country anyway you wish.

Once you name your country, you can pick where it’s located — even if it means occupying known territories on an actual Google world map. For example, Lalaland is actually one of the small islands of Hawaii. Or, you can totally go off the radar and pick a random location in the ocean. It’s your world and you can put it anywhere you want.

The next set of options you must choose from is the type of currency your country uses, which can be anything from the American dollar to Euros, Pesos and others. Then you must decide the percentage of taxes you will charge your people. You must collect taxes from your people at least every 25 days to keep your account open so the lower the percentage the happier your people are willing to pay you the taxes without complaint. (Unless you’re a dictator trying to bleed them dry, but remember, happy people mean more money and more productive industries.)

A lot of thought goes into forming a country, so if you’re confused there are links that explain each the section of the game further; for example, you can learn about different types of governments such as dictatorship, monarchy, and democracy. Once you have decided on how to rule your country you can choose the primary ethnicity and whether or not your country is peaceful or warring. Then you select your DEFCON level and war/peace preference before moving on to the religion section where you select the primary religion and belief system for your country.

Dizzy yet? We’re not done. I did warn you that this game is hard work to get started!

Once your nation has been established, you must pay the upkeep bills, invest in a military to protect your nation, build infrastructures or improve existing ones. The smaller your country, the less you can include military actions, but then again the larger your country the more expensive it will be to pay the soldiers and upkeep all the bills for one single action.

Once you create your nation, be prepared to receive a ton of e-mails from other nations asking you to join their alliance. Read the fine print carefully, as some will attempt to charge your country a ridiculous fee to be a member and some will even attempt to raid your nation if you reject their offer.

But not all of them are bad. There are countries that ask your alliance just to help your nation grow and help you navigate through CyberNations via e-mail, and some who will offer protection (if you choose a small country) while you grow your nation, but may ask that your military support their cause when the time comes.

The Government Position tab is how you keep track of your people’s demands, needs and requirements to maintain happiness and productivity. Right now in Lalaland drug traffickers have crossed my borders and my police are working hard to apprehend them, while a nearby island was hit heavily by the passing Tsunami and needs assistance. Those are just a few issues I have to address daily and decide on what actions my nation must take to maintain the peace and happiness of the people.

It really does take some time to maintain your nation. Even my country of Lalaland, a small little island in the pacific, is dealing with worldwide issues, and their behavior reacts to what is going on around the island and in the world.

It’s enough to make your head spin and appreciate our real government just a little bit more — even if I do disagree with some of the decisions it makes for our country from time to time.

The downside to CyberNations is that you have to visit the site often to keep your nation. If the nation goes unchecked for more than five days you will have to start all over again and create a new one.

Even though this game is free, donations are accepted and CyberNation does offer bonuses to the donor.