The land no country wants
Bir Tawil is the last truly unclaimed land on earth. It is a small piece of African land with no government, no permanent residents, and no laws governing it. This piece of land covers an area of more than 2000 square kilometers, located between the border of Egypt and Sudan.
Bir Tawil is a complete desert with nothing
To reach this derelict land is of course not easy. First, you have to fly to the Sudanese capital Khartoum, rent a jeep, and follow the hundreds of miles of Shendi road to Abu Hamed, a settlement dating back to the ancient Kush kingdom. You need to drive past a series of plantations, bewildering to the point where the occasional scattered shrub or palm tree has long since disappeared and given way to a flat, seemingly endless horizon of sand and rocks. When nothing could be seen anymore, it was Bir Tawil.
Both countries that could have claimed Bir Tawil – Egypt and Sudan, have renounced claim to the land and no other government has any jurisdiction over it.
The reason why neither country wants Bir Tawil is quite complicated. This place is mainly land and sand, with absolutely no roads, inhabitants or natural resources, so establishing sovereignty does not bring any economic benefits.
The position of Bir Tawil and Hala’ib on the map, the border between Egypt and Sudan is straight
It is worth mentioning that next to Bir Tawil is a much larger triangular piece of land named Hala’ib. This land is also full of sand and rocks, but geographically located near the Red Sea, so it has economic value if exploited. Both Egypt and Sudan want to own Hala’ib. But according to the border, each country can only have Bir Tawil or Hala’ib, but cannot claim sovereignty over both. Since the battle for the Hala’ib had not yet been completed, it was clear that neither side wanted to take the Bir Tawil.
Visitors have the right to claim to be their own owners
Bir Tawil’s ownership creates an interesting principle: Everyone has the right to claim to be its owner if they want, but of course no one recognizes it. In June 2014, a 38-year-old farmer from Virginia (USA) named Jeremiah Heaton came up with this crazy idea. After receiving the necessary paperwork from the Egyptian military authority, he embarked on a dangerous 14-hour expedition through remote gorges and jagged mountains, eventually making his way to the land of no people in Bir Tawil and triumphantly planted a flag.
Jeremiah Heaton holds up a self-designed Bir Tawil flag
Heaton’s 6-year-old daughter, Emily, once asked her father if she could become a real princess. After discovering the existence of Bir Tawil on the Internet, Jeremiah decided to give this meaningful birthday gift to her son. When he became the king of Bir Tawil, Emily was also a princess.
Heaton wrote on his Facebook page: “I declare that Bir Tawil will forever be known as the Kingdom of North Sudan. The kingdom was established as a sovereign monarchy with me as head of state; and Emily becomes a real princess.”
Before that, there were many tourists who came here to “claim to be king” as an interesting experience
Heaton’s social media posts were discovered by a local Virginia newspaper, the Bristol Herald-Courier, and quickly became a tool to engage users around the world. CNN, Time, Newsweek and hundreds of other global media covered the story. Heaton responded by launching a global crowdfunding call for $250,000 to build his new “kingdom”. Of course, this attempt later failed because apparently no one recognized the “coronation” of Jeremiah Heaton. He himself just considers it an enjoyable experience.
Source: The Guardian, CNN Travel