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On July 2012, China announced a new prefecture-level city called Sansha whose seat of administration lies on what it calls Yongxing Island, in the South China Sea, some 350 kilometers southeast of Hainan Island. The island, known on international charts as Woody Island, is so small that the 8,900 feet long (2,700 meter) airstrip, which the Chinese military completed in 1990, sticks out nearly half its length into the sea.

Sansha's government administers several island groups and undersea atolls, including the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands — of which Woody Island is the largest, the completely submerged Macclesfield Bank and a vast swath of the surrounding ocean. Sansha means "three sandbanks" in Mandarin and refers to these three groups of islands and atolls. The total land area of Sansha is less than 13 square km, but the water area claimed by the city approaches nearly 2-million square kilometers. This makes Sansha simultaneously the smallest and the largest city in China — smallest by land area and population, but largest by total area.

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An aerial view of Woody Island, or Yongxing island. Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.



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