Bir Tawil – - Atlas Obscura

Bir Tawil

Land that belongs to no nation. 


Bir Tawil is a very peculiar area. Located south of Egypt and north of Sudan, it is a trapezoid of land (about 2060 km²) wanted by neither Egypt nor by Sudan. In fact, both countries want to award it to the other. This, however, is not due to a unique case of goodness.

Egypt would like to leave the boundaries as they were drawn in 1899, which would make Bir Tawil Sudanese territory. This would leave Hala’ib triangle, a more extensive piece of land which has rich soil, in its own possession.

Sudan, however, wants to honor the boundary lines drawn on the treaties of 1902, which would achieve the same thing in its favor: Hala’ib for Sudan and Bir Tawil for Egypt.

Neither nation is interested in Bir Tawil simply because there is nothing there. Land within the borders of Bir Tawil is mostly sand or dry mountains. A well had once been built inside Bir Tawil (the name means “water well” in Arabic), but no one is sure where it went or what happened to it.

Know Before You Go

There are no maintained roads in the region. To visit, you will have to find someone familiar with the area to take you.

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August 26, 2010

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