World Factbook

Paracel Islands

Introduction

East & Southeast Asia :: Paracel Islands

Background:
The Paracel Islands are surrounded by productive fishing grounds and by potential oil and gas reserves. In 1932, French Indochina annexed the islands and set up a weather station on Pattle Island; maintenance was continued by its successor, Vietnam. China has occupied all the Paracel Islands since 1974, when its troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison occupying the western islands. China built a military installation on Woody Island with an airfield and artificial harbor. The islands also are claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Geography

Location:
Southeastern Asia, group of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, about one-third of the way from central Vietnam to the northern Philippines

Geographic coordinates:
16 30 N, 112 00 E

Map references:
Southeast Asia

Area:
Total: ca. 7.75 sq km
Land: ca. 7.75 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:
NA

Land boundaries:
0 km

Coastline:
518 km

Maritime claims:
NA

Climate:
tropical

Terrain:
mostly low and flat

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
Highest point: unnamed location on Rocky Island 14 m

Natural resources:
none

Land use:
Arable land: 0%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 100% (2011)

Irrigated land:
0 sq km (2011)

Natural hazards:
typhoons

Environment - current issues:
NA

Geography - note:
composed of 130 small coral islands and reefs divided into the northeast Amphitrite Group and the western Crescent Group

People and Society

Population:
no indigenous inhabitants
note: there are scattered Chinese garrisons

Government

Country name:
Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Paracel Islands

Economy

Economy - overview:
The islands have the potential for oil and gas development. Waters around the islands support commercial fishing, but the islands themselves are not populated on a permanent basis.

Transportation

Airports:
1 (2013)
Country comparison to the world: 230

Airports - with paved runways:
Total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Ports and terminals:
small Chinese port facilities on Woody Island and Duncan Island

Military

Military - note:
occupied by China

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
occupied by China, also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam