Long Island, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

Life in the USA is a complete guide to American life for immigrants and Americans. All materials on this site Copyright © Elliot Essman 2014. All rights reserved.    Home    Back    Next

Life in the USA
Land, History and Language
The American Land

Long Island
longislandexchange.com contributed this section. Long Island is 190 km (about 118 mi) long from east to west and 19 to 37 km (about 12 to 23 mi) wide, covering an area of 4,463 sq km (about 1,723 sq mi). Population 8,781,268 (as of 2000 estimate).

Long Island is the largest island in the United States, located in southeastern New York. It thrusts eastward from New York Bay to a point abreast of the Connecticut-Rhode Island state line, with Long Island Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east. The island's eastern end is split by Peconic Bay to form two narrow peninsulas, or forks. The northern fork is 43 km ( about 27 mi) long and ends at Orient Point, and the southern fork is 68 km (about 42 mi) long, ending at Montauk Point.

Long Island was built up by a glacier, which, as it melted and retreated, left deposits called moraine. The island features two separate moraines, running almost its entire length. Over most of Long Island, the two deposits are virtually indistinguishable from each other. At the eastern tip the two moraines are separated by water into the two forks.

The north shore of the island is hilly and deeply indented. On the south shore the ocean breaks on a narrow sandbar, backed by Great South Bay, Moriches Bay, and Shinnecock Bay. These bays are connected to the ocean through occasional breaks, or channels, in the protective sandbar. This ribbon of sand widens at various points to form virtual islands fronting the open sea. These islands have developed into a series of bathing beaches and summer colonies, including the Fire Island National Seashore.

Long Island marks the southernmost and easternmost part of New York State and comprises four counties: Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. Kings County, which is coextensive with Brooklyn and is on the island's southwestern end, and Queens, at the island's western end, are also boroughs, or administrative units, of New York City. These two counties account for more than half the island's population. Nassau is a sprawling, thickly settled suburban area adjacent to the great metropolis to its west. Suffolk, which comprises the eastern two-thirds of the island and is the largest in area, has many suburban communities. It is also the most productive agricultural county in New York State, with large farms, known especially for growing potatoes. In addition, Long Island has a large duck-raising industry and an important commercial fishing industry, in particular oyster and clam fishing.


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