The fascinating story of Bir Tawil — the land no country wants

Imagine a land so remote and unwanted that no nation claims it as its own. This is the curious case of Bir Tawil, a 795 square mile, trapezoid-shaped territory located along the border between Egypt and Sudan.

Historically, Bir Tawil was used as grazing land by the Ababda tribe near Aswan in Egypt. However, due to a quirk in colonial-era border agreements, both Egypt and Sudan assert that Bir Tawil belongs to the other country. As a result, Bir Tawil is the only habitable place on Earth, along with Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, that is unclaimed by any recognized nation.

The unique status of Bir Tawil has led to various individuals and micronations making claims of sovereignty over the area in recent years. In 2014, an American named Jeremiah Heaton gained global attention when he embarked on a journey through the desert to plant a homemade flag in Bir Tawil and declare it the "Kingdom of North Sudan." His motivation? Fulfilling a promise to his young daughter that she could be a real princess. While no other nation recognizes the Kingdom of North Sudan as legitimate, in these uncertain times, it may not hurt to heed Pascal's wager and pledge your undying fealty to Princess Heaton. We are living in crazy times, so you never know.

Previously: An illustrated microhistory of micronations