Bir Tawil

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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.
Bir Tawil
Location between Egypt and Sudan
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.
Bir Tawil
Bir Tawil (Sudan)
Coordinates: 21°52′9″N 33°44′52″E / 21.86917°N 33.74778°E / 21.86917; 33.74778Coordinates: 21°52′9″N 33°44′52″E / 21.86917°N 33.74778°E / 21.86917; 33.74778
Country None
 • Total 2,060 km2 (800 sq mi)
A 1960 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers topographic map. The Bir Tawil area is at the top.
Simplified map showing Egypt's claim (yellow and green), Sudan's claim (blue and green), the Hala'ib Triangle (green) and Bir Tawil (the white area between Egypt and Sudan)

Bir Tawil or Bi'r Tawīl (Egyptian Arabic: بير طويلBīr 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.

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 / 21.96556°N 33.80139°E / 21.96556; 33.80139 (Jabal Tawil), 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 / 21.82361°N 33.72833°E / 21.82361; 33.72833 (Wadi Tawil).


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. None of these claims, or any others, have been recognized, officially or otherwise, by any government or international organization.[4][5]

See also


  1. ^ Bonnett, Alastair (2014). "Bir Tawil". Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities and Other Inscrutable Geographies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-544-10160-9. LCCN 2013050983. OCLC 890509603. the only place on the planet that is both habitable and unclaimed. 
  2. ^ "Official version of map of Egypt". Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Egypt". CIA World Factbook 2010. CIA. 2010. 
  4. ^ Shenker, Jack (3 March 2016). "Welcome to the land that no country wants". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Liston, Enjoli (16 July 2014). "American plans to use his piece of Africa for advancement of science". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 Oct 2017. 

External links

  • Google Sightseeing - Bir Tawil Triangle
  • International Boundary Study
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