Spratly Islands

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A recent report indicates that the Chinese militarization efforts in the Spartly Islands have transformed these islands into strategic military outposts.

About Spratly Islands:

  • Location:
    • The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs in the South China Sea.
    • They are located north of insular Malaysia and are roughly midway between Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Claims:
    • They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.
    • Although Brunei did not claim any territory in the Spratlys, it claims an exclusive economic zone over this area that contained a Spratly reef
  • They are spread out over a vast area of ocean measuring some 158,000 square miles (409,000 square km).
  • Climate: Tropical
  • Islands:
    • A great number of them are submerged
    • Of the 12 main naturally occurring islets, the largest is the 90-acre (36-hectare) Itu Aba.
    • Another, called Spratly Island or Storm Island, measures 900 by 1,500 feet (275 by 450 metres). 
  • Turtles and seabirds are the only wildlife in these islands. There is no permanent human habitation.
  • History:
    • 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 the Chinese Nationalist government established a garrison on Itu Aba, which the Nationalists maintained after their exile to Taiwan in 1949.
    • 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.


Q1) What is the South China Sea dispute?

The South China Sea disputes refer mainly to those over delimitation regarding islands and reefs in the South China Sea as well as adjacent waters. Claimants include China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.