Swallow Reef

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For the area of Mount Kinabalu, see Layang-Layang (Mount Kinabalu).
Swallow Reef
Disputed island
Other names: Danwan Jiao 弹丸礁;
Layang-Layang Island;
Đá Hoa Lau
Swallow Reef, Spratly Islands.png
Satellite image of Swallow Reef by NASA.
Swallow Reef is located in South China Sea
Swallow Reef
Swallow Reef (South China Sea)
Location South China Sea
Coordinates 7°22′20″N 113°50′30″E / 7.37222°N 113.84167°E / 7.37222; 113.84167Coordinates: 7°22′20″N 113°50′30″E / 7.37222°N 113.84167°E / 7.37222; 113.84167
Archipelago Spratly Islands
Area 6.2 hectares (15 acres)
Administered by
Claimed by
 People's Republic of China
City Sansha, Hainan
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
Municipality Cijin, Kaohsiung
District Truong Sa, Khanh Hoa

Swallow Reef, known as Layang-Layang Island (Malay and Dusun for Place of Swallows) in Malaysia, Danwan Jiao (Chinese: 弹丸礁) in China, Celerio in the Philippines and Đá Hoa Lau in Vietnam, is an oceanic atoll of the Spratly Islands situated approximately 300 km northwest of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Swallow Reef had an original land area of approximately 6.2 hectares (15 acres), but with reclaimed land now covers a much larger area.[citation needed]

The reef is controlled and occupied by Malaysia, but as with all of the Spratly Islands, the ownership is disputed, and it is also claimed by the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Vietnam. The Philippines does not lay claim to Swallow Reef; it is outside of the Kalayaan Island Group which was defined by Presidential Decree No. 1596 signed by Ferdinand Marcos.[1]


The Royal Malaysian Navy has maintained a naval station called "Lima Station" since 1983, including a diving resort, airstrip and marine research station.[2]

Swallow Reef lies in 2,000 m of ocean and, due partly to the depth, this atoll has become famous for sightings of large pelagic species and for wall diving. The naval base has also had an important indirect contribution to the quality of scuba diving in the area, in that it has protected the island from destructive fishing practices that occurred elsewhere in the region.


Located within the equatorial belt, Swallow Reef has an equatorial climate. It is closed to tourists from November to January each year because of heavy monsoon rains. Temperatures range from 24 to 32°C. Although an equatorial climate comes with fairly high humidity, there are cooling sea breezes.

How to get there[edit]

Swallow Reef is a one hour flight north of Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu. There is only one resort on the island and a stay there requires a return flight from Kota Kinabalu.


  1. ^ "Philippine Presidential Decree No. 1596". Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Joshua Ho; Sam Bateman (15 February 2013). Maritime Challenges and Priorities in Asia: Implications for Regional Security. Routledge. pp. 74–. ISBN 978-1-136-29820-2. 

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