Spratly Islands

Map of Spratly Islands

Central Intelligence Agency. Via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

The Spratly Islands are a group of atolls located in the South China Sea.  Spratly Island itself (111.921E 8.644N) is barely large enough for an airstrip, and the islands were not known to have any important economic resources in 1939. However, they are strategically located, and the Japanese laid claim to the islands in March 1939, ignoring a French claim dating from 1930, and establishing a forward submarine base. Since the South China Sea became a Japanese lake with the destruction of Force Z, and remained so almost until the end of the war, the islands ended up playing little role in Pacific strategy. However, their seizure contributed to the deterioration of relations between Japan and the western powers.


Prange (1981)

Willmott (1982)

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