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Foreign Policy Analysis
TWL #2: Bir Tawil- The Land Without a Country

TWL #2: Bir Tawil- The Land Without a Country

Believe it or not, there’s still land on
earth that’s not part of any country. Bir Tawil is that land. This 800 square mile (2100
square kilometer) area between Egypt and Sudan is claimed by neither Egypt nor Sudan. To
understand why this is, we have to go back, to 1899. At the turn of the 20th century,
Britain had a large and rapidly expanding empire across the world. A large part of this
empire was in Africa, where colonialism had taken root. Britain held a complex level of
authority in North-East Africa, and through that got to decide that the border between
Sudan and Egypt was going to be the 22nd parallel. The problem with this border was that it made
no consideration to the placement of actual people, it just put a big line in the sand
and arbitrarily split up tribes and people. In 1902, Britain decided to draw a new administrative
boundary that put into consideration that use of the land by various tribes. That way,
tribes wouldn’t be living in one territory and grazing their cattle in another. Fast
forward 114 years, and both territories are now fully fledged countries—no longer under
British rule. The problem is, Sudan now recognizes the 1902 administrative boundary as the real
border, while Egypt recognized the 1899 border on the 22nd parallel as the real border. What
this means is that Bir Tawil is South of Egypt’s border—so Egypt thinks it’s part of Sudan—while
also north of Sudan’s border—so Sudan thinks it’s part of Egypt. This doesn’t
really create many problems though, because there’s a whopping zero people living in
Bir Tawil. There’s not even any roads or buildings—it’s just 800 square miles of
nothing…ruled by nobody. This same border issue does create issues in other places though.
The Hala’ib triangle is 10 times bigger that Bir Tawil, and, instead of being claimed
by no country, it’s claimed by two countries. That’s because its North of what Egypt thinks
is the border while simultaneously south of what Sudan thinks is the border. The two countries
actually care about this piece of land because there are things. There’s a road! And sea
access! And 1,000 residents! Currently, the land is administered by Egypt, but let’s
get back to Bir Tawil. In his 2014 book, Alastair Bonnett said that Bir Tawil is “…the only
place on the planet that is both habitable and unclaimed.” The biggest unclaimed piece
of land is the Marie Byrd land, but, that’s not considered to be habitable land, since,
you know, it’s in Antartica. There’s one other area of technically unclaimed land on
the Danube River between Croatia and Serbia due to a similar border dispute, however,
practically, the land, while on a map not part of either country, is well-divided administratively.
So, Bir Tawil is the only place on earth where people might actually be able to create a
new country. So what’s stopping people? Well, not much. Scores of people have claimed
the land as their own country, but if my video on How to Create a Country taught you anything,
it’s that it doesn’t matter if you think you’re a country, it matters if other people
think you’re a country. No recognized country currently recognizes any claim to Bir Tawil
likely because nobody has set up a government or permanent population in Bir Tawil. While
the land is habitable, there is no infrastructure to bring in supplies to support a settlement.
With it being a desert and all, agriculture doesn’t do so well, so any prospective country
founder would need to build a road or airport to bring in food. In addition, there really
aren’t any natural resources, so it’s unlikely that a country established in the
area would be self-sustaining economically. However, if someone was able to set up a democratic
government in the area with a permanent population, its entirely possible that they would gain
recognition, and there would be a 197th country in the world—or 194th… or 193rd.. or,
it really just depends on who you ask.

100 comments on “TWL #2: Bir Tawil- The Land Without a Country

  1. TWL #2
    Status: Alive (
    Bir Tawil or Bi'r Tawīl (Egyptian Arabic: بير طويل‎ Bīr Ṭawīl [biːɾ tˤɑˈwiːl] or بئر طويل Bi’r Ṭawīl, meaning "tall water well") is a 2,060 km2 (800 sq mi) area along the border between Egypt and Sudan, which is uninhabited and claimed by neither country. When spoken of in association with the neighbouring Hala'ib Triangle, it is sometimes referred to as the Bir Tawil Triangle, despite the area's quadrilateral shape; the two "triangles" border at a quadripoint.

    Bir Tawil
    بير طويل
    Neither Egypt nor Sudan claim Bir Tawil, which is located between the two countries. Neither Egypt nor Sudan claim Bir Tawil, which is located between the two countries.
    Coordinates: 21°52′9″N 33°44′52″E
    Country None
    • Total 2,060 km2 (800 sq mi)

    Its terra nullius status results from a discrepancy between the straight political boundary between Egypt and Sudan established in 1899, and the irregular administrative boundary established in 1902. Egypt asserts the political boundary, and Sudan asserts the administrative boundary, with the result that the Hala'ib Triangle is claimed by both, and Bir Tawil by neither. In 2014, author Alastair Bonnett described Bir Tawil as the only place on Earth that was habitable but was not claimed by any recognised government.[1]


    In 1899, when the United Kingdom held authority in the area, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement for Sudan set the border between the territories at the 22nd parallel. However, in 1902 the UK drew a separate "administrative boundary", intended to reflect the actual use of the land by the tribes in the region. Bir Tawil was grazing land used by the Ababda tribe based near Aswan, and thus was placed under Egyptian administration from Cairo. Similarly, the Hala'ib Triangle to the northeast was placed under the British governor of Sudan, because its inhabitants were culturally closer to Khartoum.

    Egypt claims the original border from 1899, the 22nd parallel, which would place the Hala'ib Triangle within Egypt and the Bir Tawil area within Sudan. Sudan however claims the administrative border of 1902, which would put Hala'ib within Sudan, and Bir Tawil within Egypt. As a result, both states claim the Hala'ib Triangle and neither claims the much less valuable Bir Tawil area, which is only a tenth the size, and has no permanent settlements or access to the sea. There is no basis in international law for either Sudan or Egypt to claim both territories, and neither nation is willing to cede Hala'ib. With no third state claiming the neglected area, Bir Tawil is one of the few land areas of the world not claimed by any recognised state. Egypt arguably still administers the territory, but it is not marked as Egyptian on government maps.[2][3]


    Bir Tawil is 2,060 km2 (795 sq mi) in size. The length of its northern and southern borders are 95 kilometres (59 mi) and 46 kilometres (29 mi) respectively; the length of its eastern and western borders are 26 kilometres (16 mi) and 49 kilometres (30 mi) respectively.

    In the north of the area is the mountain Jabal Tawil (جبل طويل), located at 21°57′56″N 33°48′05″E, with a height of 459 metres (1,506 ft). In the east is Jebel Hagar ez Zarqa, with a height of 662 metres (2,172 ft).

    In the south is the Wadi Tawil (وادي طويل), also called Khawr Abū Bard, located at 21°49′25″N 33°43′42″E.


    Due to its status as de jure unclaimed territory, multiple individuals and organizations have attempted to claim Bir Tawil. However, none has been taken seriously by the international community, and due to the remoteness and hostile climate of the region, the vast majority of these claims have been by declarations posted online from other locations.

    One claimant, Jack Shenker, visited Bir Tawil in 2011 and planted a multicolored flag designed around a yellow desert fox. Schenker visited the territory while he was conducting research on Bir Tawil for an article that he was writing for The Guardian.[4] Jeremiah Heaton, an American citizen who traveled to Bir Tawil in 2014, claimed the region as a sovereign kingdom so his daughter could be its princess.[5]

    None of these claims, or any others, have been recognized, officially or otherwise, by any government or international organization.[4][6]

  2. The Marie Byrd Land is another unclaimed area. It is in Antarctica, and is the largest piece of unclaimed land on Earth.

    Edit: I probably should have finished the video before posting this lol

  3. Who's down to start a government and make a country (non corrupt, with liberty, some constitution of freedom, etc) I'm serious!


  5. Dude why didn’t you explain it thoroughly? Guys search Map Men Bir Tawil on YouTube to get a simple and short answer to this situation.

  6. T H I N G S ! ! !

    I will be there is someone else I should do that too but I don't know what I want to do is the same as our national airline and flight plan for the day and time works for the J-3 the same time as the one I have is a joke and I have a meeting that is a joke and do it all over Infinite USD to get a hold of Swiss001 buttering the bread on a taxiway in the morning and I will be a little sidenote is Kosovo is the only thing in this year but we have a lot in common glad I could be there to help with this is copyright claim the kids and the kids and do the same as last week I have to put the house the same time and I will make sure that the kids will be here for the weekend and I will go over it with a boom box of the day I use memes and I have y the old one is Kosovo is Kosovo Ally and I have been talking to me about the job you posted if I hear from him I see an M L P the same as the same is getting cancer from autocorrect.


  7. Now I want a video about why so many different countries are claiming large swaths of Antarctica. Like, what the fuck is NORWAY doing with that piece?!

  8. 3:30 Wrong! You would need to file your Declaration of Independence with the governments of Egypt and Sudan and receive no objections from either country before you can actually claim the territory.

  9. I personally considered Bir Tawil as a country in the updated Yakko's World that I made for school over the summer.

  10. Why did the British change the border so Sudan had bur tawil if there are no people living there and they said it was for the placement of tribes. If they didn't change it, then it wouldn't have unclaimed today.

  11. Empire: ok lets make an Egypt-Sudan border

    Some guy: guys it’s getting late. Pass me the ruler.

    PM: why

    Some guy: draws line perfect! Time to go home guys.

  12. A permanent population you say? does that mean if every person that ever claimed Tawil banded together they could make a country?

  13. Claims Bir Tawil

    Finds an ancient alien blah blah thingy that has the nuclear code of Russia

    Sudan and Egypt both claim Bir Tawil

    Russia surrenders after getting itself nuked


  14. Guys if you’re trying to spread awareness of something amongst whom you think are mostly ignorant people on this earth except you super knowledgeable folks!
    Between 1:26 –1:30 mins of this video, you showed a video from women from a village in India instead of Sudan , indicating that video is from Sudan? I’m very very sure and certain about that video being from village from India and not from Sudan.
    At least try to have correct pictures and videos? Are you actually going to those places and getting the actual pictures? I can sit here in US and talk all things about whole world like Trump ,while knowing nothing about what’s actually happening in that part of the world. Be real and original guys or stop this stupid judging and opinionated about other people, countries, civilizations, etc

  15. i know i don’t know enough about the topic, but why dont egypt and sudan split the hala’ib triangle? then split bir tawil in half.

  16. It is then pretty much a de-facto #NeutralZone, such as had existed between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for a time in the 20. Century

  17. Egypt should have followed What the 1902 Border, or maybe because they want their country to be a bit bigger.

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