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What Is Long Island?

From the Hudson River to Montauk, Long Island is the largest island adjoining the continental USA, extending over 118 miles in length and 20 miles in width. It is geographically surrounded by the Long Island Sound to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the South. Long Island’s linear shoreline extends an estimated 1,600 miles. Technically, the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are part of the Long island mainland, but for the purposes of this report, the region is defined by the “primary metropolitan statistical area” consisting of 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Today, Long Island has a population of 2.8 million people which accounts for 20% of the population of New York State.

With an economy producing $128 (2008) billion dollars, Long Island’s gross metropolitan product (GMP) ranks among the top 20 Metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Long Island’s governance structure shaped over centuries consists of 901 different entities including two cities, 2 counties, 13 towns, 95 villages, and many other special purpose units including water, fire, library and 127 school districts each with its own taxing authority. Nassau County has three towns: Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, and two cities, Long Beach and Glen Cove. The county is made up of 126 municipal corporations including 64 different villages, 56 school districts and 19 legislative districts. Suffolk County has ten towns: Huntington, Babylon, Islip, Smithtown, Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southampton, Southold, East Hampton and Shelter Island. There are 113 municipal corporations including 31 villages, 71 school districts, and 18 legislative bodies.