Spratly Islands facts for kids

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Spratly Islands-CIA WFB Map
The Spratly Islands

The Spratly Islands are 100 small uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. A lot of fish are found around them so countries like China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam are interested in them. These countries share control of the islands but each of them want to take control of all or most of the islands.

Geographic and economic overview

The Spratly Islands were, in 1939, coral islets mostly inhabited by seabirds. Despite the Spratly Islands naturally consisting of 19 islands (see below), according to a Chinese 1986 source, the Spratly Islands consist of 14 islands or islets, 6 banks, 113 submerged reefs, 35 underwater banks and 21 underwater shoals.

The northeast part of the Spratlys is known as Dangerous Ground and is characterised by many low islands, sunken reefs, and degraded sunken atolls with coral often rising abruptly from ocean depths greater than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) – all of which makes the area dangerous for navigation.

The islands are all of similar nature; they are cays (or keys): sand islands formed on old degraded and submerged coral reefs.

The Spratly Islands contain almost no significant arable land, have no indigenous inhabitants, and very few of the islands have a permanent drinkable water supply.

Natural resources include fish, guano, oil and natural gas. Economic activity has included commercial fishing, shipping, guano mining, oil and gas exploitation, and more recently, tourism. The Spratlys are located near several primary shipping lanes.

In 1987, China installed a small military structure on Fiery Cross Reef on the pretext to build an oceanic observation station and install a tide gauge for the Global Sea Level Observing System. After a deadly skirmish with the Vietnamese Navy, China installed some military structures on more reefs in the vicinity of the Philippines and Vietnamese occupied islands and this led to escalating tensions between these countries and China over the status and "ownership" of reefs.

The islands and cays, listed in descending order of naturally occurring area, are:

# Island name in Atoll Area
(ha.)
Location Currently occupied by Reclaimed
area
1 Itu Aba Island Tizard Bank 46.00 10°23′N 114°21′E / 10.383°N 114.35°E / 10.383; 114.35 Taiwan (Taiping Island) ~6ha
2 Thitu Island Thitu Reefs 37.20 11°03′N 114°17′E / 11.05°N 114.283°E / 11.05; 114.283 Philippines (Pagasa Island)
3 West York Island West York Island 18.60 11°05′N 115°01′E / 11.083°N 115.017°E / 11.083; 115.017 Philippines (Likas Island)
4 Spratly Island Spratly Island 13.00 08°38′N 111°55′E / 8.633°N 111.917°E / 8.633; 111.917 Vietnam (Trường Sa Island)
5 Northeast Cay North Danger Reef 12.70 11°28′N 114°21′E / 11.467°N 114.35°E / 11.467; 114.35 Philippines (Parola Island)
6 Southwest Cay North Danger Reef 12.00 11°26′N 114°20′E / 11.433°N 114.333°E / 11.433; 114.333 Vietnam (Song Tử Tây Island) ~8ha
7 Sin Cowe Island Union Banks 08.00 09°52′N 114°19′E / 9.867°N 114.317°E / 9.867; 114.317 Vietnam (Sinh Tồn Island) ~1ha
8 Nanshan Island Nanshan Group 07.93 10°45′N 115°49′E / 10.75°N 115.817°E / 10.75; 115.817 Philippines (Lawak Island)
9 Sand Cay Tizard Bank 07.00 10°23′N 114°28′E / 10.383°N 114.467°E / 10.383; 114.467 Vietnam (Son Ca Island) ~2.1ha
10 Loaita Island Loaita Bank 06.45 10°40′N 114°25′E / 10.667°N 114.417°E / 10.667; 114.417 Philippines (Kota Island)
11 Swallow Reef Swallow Reef 06.20 07°22′N 113°50′E / 7.367°N 113.833°E / 7.367; 113.833 Malaysia (Layang-Layang Reef)
12 Namyit Island Tizard Bank 05.30 10°11′N 114°22′E / 10.183°N 114.367°E / 10.183; 114.367 Vietnam (Nam Yet Island)
13 Amboyna Cay Amboyna Cay 01.60 07°51′N 112°55′E / 7.85°N 112.917°E / 7.85; 112.917 Vietnam (An Bang Island)
14 Grierson Reef Union Banks 01.60 09°51′N 114°29′E / 9.85°N 114.483°E / 9.85; 114.483 Vietnam
15 West London Reef London Reefs 01.10 Vietnam
16 Central London Reef London Reefs 00.88 Vietnam
17 Flat Island Nanshan Group 00.57 10°49′N 115°49′E / 10.817°N 115.817°E / 10.817; 115.817 Philippines (Patag Island)
18 Lankiam Cay Loaita Bank 00.44 10°43′N 114°32′E / 10.717°N 114.533°E / 10.717; 114.533 Philippines (Panata Island)

The total area of the archipelago's naturally occurring islands is 177 ha (440 acres) and 200 ha (490 acres) with reclaimed land.

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Spratly Islands Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.