South China Sea
The South China Sea is is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 square kilometers (1,400,000 square miles). The area's importance largely results from one-third of the world's shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed. It is located:
- south of mainland China and the island of Taiwan,
- west of the Philippines,
- northwest of Sabah (Malaysia), Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei,
- north of Indonesia,
- northeast of the Malay peninsula (Malaysia) and Singapore, and
- east of Vietnam.
The minute South China Sea Islands, collectively an archipelago, number in the hundreds. The sea and its mostly uninhabited islands are subject to competing claims of sovereignty by several countries, including Mischief Reef. These claims are also reflected in the variety of names used for the islands and the sea.