Bir Tawil, anyone?

In this World ruled by greed we are used to hearing about the overlapping territorial claims. For example Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are claimed by no less than six different countries – a map showing the extent of these claims is reproduced below:



But what if I told you there was a piece of land bordering two countries, none of which wanted it? Read on to find out how come.

There are two different boundaries between Egypt and Sudan. In 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement for Sudan set the “political boundary” between the territories at the 22nd parallel. In 1902 however an “administrative boundary” was drawn which gave Sudan some coastal land North of the 22nd parallel and assigned a stretch of desert South of it to Egypt. The international law is not apparently clear which boundary has a more official standing which means either country can favour the one which best suits their interests. Again, the map of the disputed region is reproduced below:


Now the juicy bit. The coastal Hala’ib Triangle is much larger and deemed more valuable than the piece of desert South of the 22nd parallel known as Bir Tawil. As a result (and quite predictably) both countries involved want the Hala’ib Triangle. Consequently, Egypt recognises the “political boundary” of 1899 and Sudan the “administrative boundary” from 1902. So where does it leave Bir Tawil? Nowhere. By claiming it both Egypt and Sudan would automatically give up on the Hala’ib Triangle so Bir Tawil remains unclaimed.

If this is not whacky I do not know what is.


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