East & Southeast Asia :: Spratly Islands
page last updated on September 24, 2009
Location of Spratly Islands
Map of Spratly Islands
Introduction ::Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially by gas and oil deposits. They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Brunei has established a fishing zone that overlaps a southern reef but has not made any formal claim.
Geography ::Spratly Islands
Southeastern Asia, group of reefs and islands in the South China Sea, about two-thirds of the way from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines
8 38 N, 111 55 E
total: less than 5 sq km
country comparison to the world: 246
land: less than 5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 100 or so islets, coral reefs, and sea mounts scattered over an area of nearly 410,000 sq km of the central South China Sea
0 km
926 km
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay 4 m
fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
0 sq km
typhoons; numerous reefs and shoals pose a serious maritime hazard
strategically located near several primary shipping lanes in the central South China Sea; includes numerous small islands, atolls, shoals, and coral reefs
People ::Spratly Islands
no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered garrisons occupied by personnel of several claimant states
Government ::Spratly Islands
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Spratly Islands
Economy ::Spratly Islands
Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored. There are no reliable estimates of potential reserves. Commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.
Transportation ::Spratly Islands
4 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 188
total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
3 (2009)
none; offshore anchorage only
Military ::Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs of which about 45 are claimed and occupied by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam
Transnational Issues ::Spratly Islands
all of the Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; parts of them are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines; in 1984, Brunei established an exclusive fishing zone that encompasses Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands but has not publicly claimed the reef; claimants in November 2002 signed the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," which has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct"; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands