The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays, and islands in theSouth China Sea between the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and China. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land area, spread over more than 425,000 square kilometers of sea. The Spratlys are part of the three archipelagos of the South China Sea, comprising more than 30,000 islands and reefs and which so complicates geography, governance and economics in that region of Southeast Asia. Such small and remote islands have little economic value in themselves, but are important in establishing international boundaries. There are no native islanders but there are rich fishing grounds and initial surveys indicate the islands may contain significant oil and gas.
About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of military forces from the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.Brunei has claimed an EEZ in the southeastern part of the Spratlys encompassing just one area of small islands above mean high water (on Louisa Reef.)