Spratly Islands


Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands

Introduction Spratly Islands
Background: This archipelago - surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially by gas and oil deposits - is claimed in its entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. All five parties occupy certain islands or reefs. Geography Spratly Islands -
Location: 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
Geographic coordinates: 8 38 N, 111 55 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: less than 5 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 water: 0 sq km land: less than 5 sq km
Area - comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 926 km
Maritime claims: NA
Climate: tropical
Terrain: flat
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay 4 m
Natural resources: fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential
Land use: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: typhoons; serious maritime hazard because of numerous reefs and shoals Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: 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
Population: no indigenous inhabitants note: there are scattered garrisons occupied by personnel of several claimant states (July 2002 est.)
Population growth rate: NA Government Spratly Islands
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Spratly Islands Economy Spratly Islands -
Economy - overview: 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, and there are no reliable estimates of potential reserves; commercial exploitation has yet to be developed. Transportation Spratly Islands
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none; offshore anchorage only
Airports: 4 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Military Spratly Islands
Military - note: 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 Disputes - international: 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 island; in 2000, China joined ASEAN discussions towards creating a South China Sea "code of conduct" - a non-legally binding confidence building measure

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Group of reefs, China Sea.

Located midway between Vietnam and the Philippines, the group is claimed variously by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. Of the 12 main islets, the largest is the 90-acre (36-hectare) Itu Aba. Turtles and seabirds are the only permanent inhabitants. After World War II China established a garrison on Itu Aba, which the Chinese Nationalists maintained after their exile to Taiwan. Japan renounced its claim to the islands in 1951.

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▪ reefs, South China Sea
      group of reefs in the South China Sea, located midway between Vietnam and the Philippines and claimed by several countries. Of the 12 main islets, the largest is the 90-acre (36-hectare) Itu Aba. Another, called Spratly Island or Storm Island, measures 900 feet by 1,500 feet (275 m by 450 m). Turtles and seabirds are the only permanent inhabitants.

      Before 1970 the main significance attached to the islands was their strategic location. France held them between 1933 and 1939. During World War II Japan occupied the archipelago and developed it as a submarine base. After the war China established a garrison on Itu Aba, which the Chinese Nationalists maintained after their exile to Taiwan. When Japan renounced its claim to the islands in 1951, Taiwan, mainland China, and Vietnam all declared themselves the rightful owners, and the Philippines added a claim based on proximity in 1955.

      In the 1970s South Vietnam occupied three of the Spratly Islands (including Spratly Island itself) to forestall a Chinese occupation. Taiwanese troops remained on Itu Aba. The Philippines then moved forces onto seven of the remaining islets and built an airstrip (1976) on Pagasa Island. By the late 20th century, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia (with its occupation of Turumbu Layang-Layang reef [June 1983]), and the Philippines all had conflicting claims to the Spratlys, supported (except in the case of China) by garrisons on various islands.

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Universalium. 2010.

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