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  Spratly Islands  
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In general, information available as of 1 January 2003
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2003.

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

Map of Spratly Islands

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Spratly Islands
Definition Field Listing
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 50 islands are occupied by China (about 450 soldiers), Malaysia (70-90), the Philippines (about 100), and Vietnam (about 1,500). Brunei is a claimant but has no outposts.
   Geography    Spratly Islands
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
8 38 N, 111 55 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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:
Definition Field Listing
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
0 km
Definition Field Listing
926 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Southwest Cay 4 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
fish, guano, undetermined oil and natural gas potential
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
0 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
typhoons; serious maritime hazard because of numerous reefs and shoals
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered garrisons occupied by personnel of several claimant states (July 2003 est.)
   Government    Spratly Islands
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Spratly Islands
   Economy    Spratly Islands
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
none; offshore anchorage only
Definition Field Listing
3 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
   Military    Spratly Islands
Military - note:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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; claimants in November 2002 signed the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea", a mechanism to ease tension but which fell short of a legally binding "code of conduct"

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

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