Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

I've just been looking at the statistics of my blog, which I find very perplexing. Apparently, my most viewed entry, with over 2,000 hits, was one about the film 'Che', followed by a bit of ranting about Barack Obama.

If I was a media analyst, I wonder what I'd learn from this. If I wanted more hits, should I write about South American revolutionaries?

Simón Bolívar was a South American revolutionary and military and political leader. He was born in Caracas, on July 24, 1783...

Or maybe I should write about politicians?

Michael Gove announced his white paper on education today, which isn't worth the trees it's written on.

But, I'm not doing this for fame, love or money, although any of them would be nice (particularly the money). I just find it strange that an entry I think is average at best receives the most hits per day.

Anyway... Fact of the Day: Bir Tawil, the most unwanted place on Earth

Bir Tawil, a small area of the Sahara Desert between Sudan and Egypt, is the only part of the Earth’s surface other than Antartica which is unclaimed by any country. (The technical term for this is terra nullius.) Although administered by Egypt, neither it nor Sudan wants this poor 800 square mile triangle of desert.

So why did poor Bir get left all alone and unwanted? The answer lies with another area of land which meets Bir Tawil at a quadripoint, the Hala’ib Triangle. This part of the world is claimed and wanted by both Sudan and Egypt. But in order for either country to have any legal basis for their claim for the Hala’ib Triangle, they have to rescind any claim for Bir Tawil.

This is because of the way the British (it’s always the British) divided the land between the two countries. In 1899, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement set the border between the two countries at the 22nd parallel. This meant that Bir Tawil was a part of Sudan, while the Hala’ib Triangle was a part of Egypt. However, in 1902, the British created a new ‘Administrative Boundary’ for practical reasons which placed the Hala’ib Triangle in Sudan and Bir Tawil in Egypt. Of course, Egypt refers to the 1899 treaty for its claim to the Hala’ib Triangle, which means, according to them, Bir Tawil is in Sudan. Sudan, on the other hand refers to the 1902 Administrative Boundary to back up their claim for the Hala’ib Triangle. So Bir Tawil gets left out yet again.

Of course, if oil was discovered in Bir Tawil, I’m sure everything would change.

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