An exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast of the state in question. It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin and, in colloquial usage, may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a "sovereign right" which refers to the coastal state's rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.
Generally, a state's exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, extending seaward to a distance of no more than 200 nmi (370 km) out from its coastal baseline. The exception to this rule occurs when exclusive economic zones would overlap; that is, state coastal baselines are less than 400 nmi (740 km) apart. When an overlap occurs, it is up to the states to delineate the actual maritime boundary. Generally, any point within an overlapping area defaults to the nearest state.
A state's exclusive economic zone starts at the seaward edge of its territorial sea and extends outward to a distance of 200 nmi (370 km) from the baseline. The exclusive economic zone stretches much further into sea than the territorial waters, which end at 12 nmi (22 km) from the coastal baseline (if following the rules set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea). Thus, the exclusive economic zones includes the contiguous zone. States also have rights to the seabed of what is called the continental shelf up to 350 nmi (650 km) from the coastal baseline, beyond the exclusive economic zones, but such areas are not part of their exclusive economic zones. The legal definition of the continental shelf does not directly correspond to the geological meaning of the term, as it also includes the continental rise and slope, and the entire seabed within the exclusive economic zone.
The idea of allotting nations EEZs to give them more control of maritime affairs outside territorial limits gained acceptance in the late 20th century.
Initially, a country's sovereign territorial waters extended 3 nmi or 5.6 km (range of cannon shot) beyond the shore. In modern times, a country's sovereign territorial waters extend to 12 nmi (22 km) beyond the shore. One of the first assertions of exclusive jurisdiction beyond the traditional territorial seas was made by the United States in the Truman Proclamation of 28 September 1945. However, it was Chile and Peru respectively that first claimed maritime zones of 200 nautical miles with the Presidential Declaration Concerning Continental Shelf of 23 June 1947 (El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile, 29 June 1947) and Presidential Decree No. 781 of 1 August 1947 (El Peruano: Diario Oficial. Vol. 107, No. 1983, 11 August 1947).
It was not until 1982 with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone was formally adopted.
This section needs to be updated.(June 2020)
The exact extent of exclusive economic zones is a common source of conflicts between states over marine waters.
Fisheries management, usually adhering to guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), provides significant practical mechanisms for the control of EEZs. Transboundary fish stocks are an important concept in this control. Transboundary stocks are fish stocks that range in the EEZs of at least two countries. Straddling stocks, on the other hand, range both within an EEZ as well as in the high seas, outside any EEZ. A stock can be both transboundary and straddling.
Algeria on 17 April 2018 established an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off its coasts by Presidential Decree No. 18-96 of 2 Rajab 1439 corresponding to 20 March 2018. The permanent mission of Spain to the United Nations on 27 July 2018 declared its disagreement with the EEZ announced by Algeria and that the government of Spain indicated its willingness to enter into negotiations with the government of Algeria with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on the outer limits of their respective exclusive economic zones, The same was done by the Italian mission on 28 November 2018. The two countries indicated that the Algerian measure had been taken unilaterally and without consulting them.
On 25 November 2018, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent an oral note in response to the Spanish protest, explaining that the Algerian government does not recognize the largely exorbitant coordinates contained in Royal Decree 236/2013, which overlap with the coordinates of Presidential Decree n° 18-96 establishing an exclusive economic zone off the coast of Algeria. The Algerian government wished to emphasize that the unilateral delimitation carried out by Spain is not in conformity with the letter of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and has not taken into consideration the configuration, the specific characteristics and the special circumstances of the Mediterranean Sea, in particular for the case of the two countries whose coasts are located face to face, as well as the objective rules and relevant principles of international law to govern the equitable delimitation of the maritime areas between Algeria and Spain, in accordance with article 74 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Algeria expressed its willingness to negotiate for a just solution
Considering the maritime areas claimed, the total area of Argentina reaches 3,849,756 km2. The recognized Argentine EEZ area is 1,159,063 km2.
Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone was declared on 1 August 1994, and extends from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline of Australia and its external territories, except where a maritime delimitation agreement exists with another state. To the 12 nautical miles boundary is Australia's territorial waters. Australia has the third largest exclusive economic zone, behind France and the United States, but ahead of Russia, with the total area of 8,148,250 square kilometres, which actually exceeds its land territory.
The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) confirmed, in April 2008, Australia's rights over an additional 2.5 million square kilometres of seabed beyond the limits of Australia's EEZ. Australia also claimed, in its submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, additional Continental Shelf past its EEZ from the Australian Antarctic Territory, but these claims were deferred on Australia's request. However, Australia's EEZ from its Antarctic Territory is approximately 2 million square kilometres.
|Region||EEZ Area (km2)|
|Mainland Australia (5 States and 3 Territories of the Australian Federation), Tasmania, and other minor islands||6,048,681|
|Heard Island and McDonald Islands||410,722|
|Australian Antarctic Territory||2,000,000[note 1]|
|Region||EEZ Area (km2)|
|Mainland Brazil (9 States of the Brazilian Federation)||2,570,917|
|Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands||468,599|
|Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago||413,636|
|Fernando de Noronha Islands||363,362|
Canada is unusual in that its exclusive economic zone, covering 5,599,077 km2 (2,161,816 sq mi), is slightly smaller than its territorial waters. The latter generally extend only 12 nautical miles from the shore, but also include inland marine waters such as Hudson Bay (about 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi) across), the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the internal waters of the Arctic Archipelago.
|Region||EEZ Area (km2)||Land Area (km2)||Total|
|Juan Fernández Islands||502,524||100||502,624|
The first figure excludes all disputed waters, while the last figure indicates China's claimed boundaries, and does not take into account adjacent powers' claims.
Area: 59,032 km2
The Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus covers more than 70,000 km2 and is divided between 13 exploration blocks. The process of the establishment of Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon Exclusive Economic Zones was held in Nicosia in 2010 with separate meetings between each country. Cyprus and Israel as part of their wider cooperation have agreed to start their gas explorations with a common American company, specifically Noble Energy. Cypriot and Israeli governments are discussing to export their natural gas through the shipping of compressed Natural Gas to Greece and then to the rest of Europe or through a subsea Pipelines starting from Israel and then leading to Greece via Cyprus.
|Region||EEZ & TW Area (km2)||Land area||Total|
|Denmark||105 989||42 506||149 083|
|Faroe Islands||260 995||1 399||262 394|
Area: 1,077,231 km2
Due to its numerous overseas departments and territories scattered on all oceans of the planet, France possesses the largest EEZ in the world, covering 11.7 million km2. The EEZ of France covers approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, whereas the land area of the French Republic is only 0.45% of the total land area of Earth.
Greece has claimed an EEZ of 505,572 km2 (195,202 sq mi) as per UNCLOS 1982 as well as customary international law. Turkey doesn't recognize a legal continental shelf and EEZ around the Greek islands. As of 2020, Greece has signed EEZ agreements with Italy and Egypt.
|Mainland India (9 States and 2 Union Territories of the Indian Federation) and Lakshadweep||1,641,514 km2|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||663,629 km2|
India is currently seeking to extend its EEZ to 350 miles.
Indonesia has the 6th largest exclusive economic zone in the world. The total size is 6,159,032 km2 (2,378,016 sq mi). It claims an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores. This is due to the 13,466 islands of the Indonesian Archipelago. It has the 2nd largest coastline of 54,720 km (34,000 mi). The five main islands are: Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Western New Guinea. There are two major island groups (Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands) and sixty smaller island groups.
In 2010, an agreement was signed with Cyprus concerning the limit of territorial waters between Israel and Cyprus at the maritime halfway point, a clarification essential for safeguarding Israel's rights to oil and underwater gas reservoirs. The agreement was signed in Nicosia by Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and the Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou. The two countries agreed to cooperate in the development of any cross border resources discovered, and to negotiate an agreement on dividing joint resources.
Japan has the 8th largest exclusive economic zone of 4,479,674 km2 (1,729,612 sq mi). It claims an EEZ of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores.
|Region||EEZ Area (km2)||EEZ Area (sq mi)|
|Pacific Ocean (Japan)||1,162,334||448,780|
|Sea of Japan||630,721||243,523|
|Sea of Okhotsk||235||91|
Japan has disputes over its EEZ boundaries with all its Asian neighbors (China, Russia, South Korea, and Taiwan). The above, and relevant maps at the Sea Around Us Project both indicate Japan's claimed boundaries, and do not take into account the claims of adjacent jurisdications.
Japan also refers to various categories of "shipping area" - Smooth Water Area, Coasting Area, Major or Greater Coasting Area, Ocean Going Area - but it is unclear whether these are intended to have any territorial or economic implications.
Mexico's exclusive economic zones comprise a total surface area of 3,144,295 km2, and places Mexico among the countries with the largest areas in the world. This puts Mexico's total territory as 5,153,735 km2.
New Zealand's EEZ covers 4,083,744 km2 (1,576,742 sq mi), which is approximately fifteen times the land area of the country. Sources vary significantly on the size of New Zealand's EEZ; for example, a recent government publication gave the area as roughly 4,300,000 km2. These figures are for the EEZ of New Zealand proper, and do not include the EEZs of other territories in the Realm of New Zealand (the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, and the Ross Dependency).
The exclusive economic zone of North Korea stretches 200 nautical miles from its basepoints in both the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and the Sea of Japan. The EEZ was declared in 1977 after North Korea had contested the validity of the Northern Limit Lines (NLL) set up after the Korean War as maritime borders. The EEZ has not been codified in law and North Korea has never specified its coordinates, making it difficult to determine its specific scope.
In the West Sea, the EEZ remains unspecified in the Korea Bay because China has not determined its own EEZ in the area. The border between the North Korean and South Korean EEZs in the West Sea cannot be determined because of potential overlap and disputes over certain islands.
In the Sea of Japan, the North Korean EEZ can be approximated to be trapezoidal-shaped. The border between North Korea and Russia's respective EEZs is the only such border that has been determined in East Asia. Here, the EEZ does not cause many problems, even with regards to South Korea, because the sea is not thought to be rich in resources.
In April 2009, the United Nations Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved Norway's claim to an additional 235,000 square kilometres of continental shelf. The commission found that Norway and Russia both had valid claims over a portion of shelf in the Barents Sea.
|Region||EEZ and Territorial
Waters Area (km2)
|Land Area (km2)||Total (km2)|
Area: 906,454 km2
Portugal has the 20th largest EEZ in the world. Presently, it is divided in three non-contiguous sub-zones:
Portugal submitted a claim to extend its jurisdiction over an additional 2.15 million square kilometres of the adjacent continental shelf in May 2009, resulting in an area with a total of more than 3,877,408 km2. The submission, as well as a detailed map, can be found in the Task Group for the extension of the Continental Shelf website.
Spain disputes the EEZ's southern border, maintaining that it should be drawn halfway between Madeira and the Canary Islands. But Portugal exercises sovereignty over the Savage Islands, a small archipelago north of the Canaries, claiming an EEZ border further south. Spain objects, arguing that the Savage Islands do not have a separate continental shelf, citing article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Area: 23,627 km2
Area: 158,861 km2
Area: 825,052 km2
Area: 300,851 (225,214) km2
Area: 1,039,233 km2
The United Kingdom has the fifth largest exclusive economic zone of 6,805,586 km2 (2,627,651 sq mi) square km. It comprises the EEZs surrounding the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories. The figure does not include the EEZ of the British Antarctic Territory.
The EEZ associated with the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are disputed by Argentina. The EEZ of the Chagos Archipelago, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory, is also disputed with Mauritius which considers the archipelago as a part of its territory.
|Territory||EEZ Area (km2)||EEZ Area (sq mi)||Notes|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||1,449,532||559,667||Disputed with Argentina.|
|Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands||836,108||322,823|
|United Kingdom||773,676||298,718||Including the Isle of Man.|
|Tristan da Cunha+||754,720||291,400||Including Gough Island.|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||638,568||246,552||Disputed with Mauritius.|
|Falkland Islands||550,872||212,693||Disputed with Argentina.|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||154,068||59,486|
|British Virgin Islands||80,117||30,933|
|Channel Islands||11,658||4,501||Including Guernsey and Jersey.|
|Gibraltar||426||164||Disputed with Spain.|
|Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia||0||0||No EEZ area. The relevant EEZ areas around Cyprus Island are claimed by the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus.|
+ A part of the overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, which together has an EEZ of 1,641,294 square km.
|Territory||EEZ Area (km2)||EEZ Area (sq mi)||Notes|
|Alaska||3,770,021||1,455,613||A non-contiguous state in the northwest extremity of the North American continent.|
|Hawaii - Northwestern Islands||1,579,538||609,863||Including Midway Atoll, these islands form the Leeward Islands of the Hawaiian island chain.|
|U.S. East Coast||915,763||353,578||The mainland coastal states of the Eastern United States. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and the Atlantic Coast of Florida.|
|Hawaii - Southeastern Islands||895,346||345,695||These islands form the Windward Islands of the Hawaiian island chain.|
|U.S. West Coast||825,549||318,746||The mainland coastal states of the Western United States. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of California, Oregon, Washington.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||749,268||289,294||An organized unincorporated Commonwealth of the United States.|
|U.S. Gulf Coast||707,832||273,295||The mainland coastal states of the Southern United States. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Gulf Coast of Florida|
|Johnston Atoll||442,635||170,902||A National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
|Howland and Baker Islands||434,921||167,924||Including Howland Island and Baker Island, both territories are National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
|Wake Island||407,241||157,237||A National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
|American Samoa||404,391||156,136||The only inhabited unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States.|
|Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef||352,300||136,000||Both territories are National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
|Jarvis Island||316,665||122,265||A National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
|Guam||221,504||85,523||An organized unincorporated territory of the United States.|
|Puerto Rico||177,685||68,605||An organized unincorporated Commonwealth of the United States.|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||33,744||13,029||An organized unincorporated territory of the United States.|
|Navassa Island||N/A[note 2]||N/A[note 2]||A National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.|
Note, the totals in the table actually add up to 12,234,403 square km and 4,723,705 square miles.
Excluding all disputed waters, Vietnam has an undisputed exclusive economic zone of 417,663 km2 (161,261 sq mi). This figure does not include the claimed EEZ areas of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. Vietnam has disputes mainly with the People's Republic of China due to the nine-dash line.
This list includes dependent territories (including uninhabited territories) within their sovereign states, but does not include various claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes territorial land and internal waters.
|Rank||Country||EEZ km2||Shelf km2||EEZ+TIA km2|
|2||United States[note 4]||11,351,000||2,193,526||21,814,306|
|5||United Kingdom[note 6]||6,805,586||872,891||7,048,486|
|9||New Zealand[note 7]||4,420,565||272,898||4,688,285|
|14||Federated States of Micronesia||2,996,419||19,403||2,997,121|
|16||Papua New Guinea||2,402,288||191,256||2,865,128|
|-||Cook Islands[note 10]||1,960,027||1,213||1,960,267|
|89||São Tomé and Príncipe||131,397||1,902||132,361|
|100||Antigua and Barbuda||110,089||4,128||110,531|
|105||Republic of China (Taiwan)||83,231||43,016||119,419|
|107||Trinidad and Tobago||74,199||25,284||79,329|
|113||United Arab Emirates||58,218||57,474||141,818|
|117||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||36,302||1,561||36,691|
|122||Republic of the Congo||31,017||7,982||373,017|
|140||Saint Kitts and Nevis||9,974||653||10,235|
|145||Democratic Republic of the Congo||1,606||1,593||2,346,464|
|152||Bosnia and Herzegovina||50||50||51,259|
|-||Central African Republic||622,984|
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.|
EEZ waters of: Mainland Brazil 2,570,917 km2, Fernando de Noronha Islands 363,362 km2, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago 413,636 km2, and the Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands 468,599 km2
EEZ waters of: Mainland Chile 1,975,760 km2, the Desventuradas Islands 449,836 km2, Easter Island 720,412 km2, the Juan Fernández, Felix and Ambrosio Islands 502,524 km2