Almost every piece of land in the world is ruled over, and unless you build a structure out at sea and claim it as your sovereign land, then your pretty much out of luck. Almost.
Enter Bir Tawil.
Bir Tawil is a piece of land 2060 km², which is about half the size of Rhode Island, and sits between Egypt and Sudan, and it’s completely yours it you decide to take it, because neither country is claiming it.
It’s what’s called “Terra nullius“, also known as nobodies land.
And before you ask, no, there is nothing wrong with the land. It’s practically the same as the land around it.
But then why is no one claiming this small stretch of land?
Because they are trying to claim a bigger stretch of land.
See the white bit between Egypt and Sudan? That’s Bir Tawil. OK, now see that much bigger juicy green piece of land? That’s called the Hala’ib Triangle, and both countries want it.
The problem is that Egypt is setting it’s borders based on what was decided in 1899, that their border runs along the 22nd parallel, and Sudan is following the administrative border set in 1902. If either budges, they could lose their claim on the green bit, which is 10x bigger than Bir Tawil, and has sea access.
There is another small hitch.
Even though Bir Tawil is technically administered by Egypt, there is no infrastructure. There are no roads, no phone lines, no water system, which explains why there are no permanent settlements.
The second small hitch is that even if you decide to rough it for a bit while you set up a permanent camp, and make something useful of the land, it’s a little like the moon – land is only yours if you can defend it.
Donald Trump is good at building walls, maybe he should go live there, but then I don’t know who he’ll get to pay for it.
It’s interesting to try and work out how much it would cost to build infrastructure there, with a mansion, and protect it, as well ways to transport you there, verses the cost of buying an island. That’s probably why no one lives there.