China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim territory in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea, parts of which are believed to be sitting on huge deposits of oil and gas. Tensions between China and Vietnam have risen in recent weeks, with Vietnam expressing alarm at what it says are increasingly aggressive actions by China in disputed waters.

So where are these islands and what do they look like?

Here's the map:

Paradise or Battleground? Here are the photos:

People wait to board a boat at the shore of Truong Sa or Spratly islands in Bien Dong or South China Sea in this undated file photo. Vietnam said on April 12, 2007 a BP-led $2 billion (1 billion pound) natural gas field and pipeline project in the South China Sea was within the bounds of its sovereignty, after Beijing accused Hanoi of infringing China's territory.
Motorboats anchor at a partially submerged island of Truong Sa islands or Spratly islands in this April 18, 2010 picture. The issue of territory disputed in the South China Sea is highly charged in Vietnam, where suspicion of China runs high.
Vietnamese navy personnel wave to visitors on Truong Sa islands or Spratly islands in this April 19, 2010 picture.
Vietnamese navy personnel patrol on Truong Sa islands or Spratly islands in this April 13, 2010 picture.

These photos are from the late 1990's when tensions were high between the Philippines and China over the Spratly islands:

A photograph released by the Philppines' Department of National Defense show Chinese structures on the Spratly Islands.
A photograph released by a Philippine legislator shows Chinese workers about to finish two multistory structures at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.
An aerial view of one of the structures built by China at the Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef, Spratly Islands in South China Sea.
A Chinese flag and a satellite dish are prominently displayed in a structure built by China in one of the islands in the Spratly Islands.
An aerial photograph taken by a Philippine reconnaissance plane shows one of the structures which Philippine officials said China has built on a reef claimed by the Philippines on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.