Long Island is an island in New York that reaches from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean. Long Island is actually comprised of 4 counties, including 2 that form New York City boroughs Queens and Brooklyn. While all 4 counties are part of the New York metropolitan area, the name Long Island generally only refers to Suffolk and Nassau counties.
Long Island has an estimated population of 7.75 million in 2013. It is the most populated island in any U.S. territory or state and the 17th most populous island in the world, beating Ireland and Jamaica. If Long Island were a state, it would by the 13th most populous and first in terms of population density with 5,402 people per square mile, or 2,086 people per square kilometer. It is one of the most densely populated regions in the country. Long Island has 39% of the total population of the state of New York.
Suffolk County has twice the area of Nassau County but it is much more densely populated. When the population of all 4 counties are combined, Long Island has a population greater than 38 states in the country. If it were a country, it would by the 96th most populated ahead of Israel.
Long Island is also the largest and longest island in the contiguous U.S, stretching 118 miles east from New York Harbor with a land area of 1,401 square miles. It is also home to LaGuardia Airport and JFK International Airport in Queens.
Long Island Demographics
Whites are the largest racial group in Long Island and form a majority in Suffolk and Nassau counties. A 2002 study by nonprofit ERASE Racism found that these two counties are the most racially segregated suburbs in the country.
The largest religious group in the area is Catholic at 52%, followed by Jewish (16%) and Protestant (7%).
Long Island is home to a large Italian-American community with 26% of residents claiming Italian ancestry. There is also a fairly new Little India community in Nassau County. Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens have also led to a growing Asian population in Nassau County. There is also a Long Island Koreatown.
The racial and ethnic breakdown of Long Island:
- White: 85.8% Suffolk County, 77.3% Nassau County (New York: 71.2%)
- Black: 8.2% Suffolk, 12.2% Nassau (New York: 17.5%)
- American Indian: 0.6% Suffolk, 0.5% Nassau (New York: 1%)
- Pacific Islander: 0.1% Suffolk, 0.1% Nassau (New York: 0.1%)
- Asian: 3.7% Suffolk, 8.4% Nassau (New York: 8%)
- Hispanic or Latino of any race: 17.3% Suffolk, 15.3% Nassau (New York: 8%)
Suburban development of Long Island really took off after World War II thanks to incentives under the GI Bill, and the population skyrocketed. Many second and third-generation descendants of immigrants moved to the area to settle, particularly descendants from 19th and early 20th century immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, black migrants from the south and, more recently, immigrants from Latin America. The area today has many ethnic Irish, Jews and Italians.
Long Island Cities and Towns
There are several notable cities and towns in Long Island.
- Long Beach is located in Nassau County off Long Island's South Shore with a population of about 34,000.
- The Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County has a population of 294,000 and it is comprised of 18 villages and 18 hamlets.
- East Hampton is located in southeast Suffolk County with a population of 22,000. More than 50% of the homes here are second homes, as the owners are some of the wealthiest people in the United States.
- Amityville is a village in Babylon in Suffolk County and best known as the setting for the book The Amityville Horror.
Long Island Facts
- The completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 allowed land transportation between Long Island and the mainland US for the first time. Before this, the only way to travel between the two was via boat.
- The first suburbia in the country, Levitown, was build on Long Island in the 1940s.
- The happenings at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville became the subject of the book The Amityville Horror.
- The Native American name for Long Island is Paumonauk, meaning "fish-shaped island."
- Long Island is one of the most affluent areas of the United States and home to many mansions and resorts, particularly in the southeastern fork.
- Long Island has the second lowest crime rate in the entire country.