Editor's note: The first of three presidential debates for the 2016 election begins shortly, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump taking the stage at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y. NBC News' Lester Holt will moderate the match, selecting questions that focus on the future of America and its security. The two candidates reportedly have undertaken radically different preparation methods: Clinton, who, according to CNN, has participated in more debates than any presidential candidate in recent history, has spent most of the past week off the campaign trail and huddling with aides, who tell NBC News they are preparing for the night to go in several directions; Trump, on the other hand, has opted to crowd-source his strategy by sending a survey to supporters. More than half of Americans believe Clinton will outperform Trump, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll. Coverage kicks off at 9 p.m. ET, and we'll have live video and highlights on our feed. - Rebecca
Long Island is an island located just off the northeast coast of the United States and a region within the U.S. state of New York. Stretching east-northeast from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean, the island comprises four counties: Kings and Queens (which comprise the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, respectively) to the west; then Nassau and Suffolk to the east. However, many people in the New York metropolitan area (even those living in Brooklyn and Queens) colloquially use the term "Long Island" (or "The Island") exclusively to refer to the Nassau-Suffolk county area collectively, which is mainly suburban in character. More generally, "Long Island" may also refer collectively both to the main Island as well as its nearby, surrounding outer barrier islands. North of the island is the Long Island Sound, across from which lie the states of Connecticut and a small part of Rhode Island across the Block Island Sound. Across the Sound, to the northwest, lies Westchester County on mainland New York. To the west, Long Island is separated from the Bronx and the island of Manhattan by the East River. To the extreme southwest, it is separated from the New York City borough of Staten Island and the U.S. state of New Jersey by Upper New York Bay, the Narrows, and Lower New York Bay. To the east lie Block Island and numerous smaller islands.
Both the longest and the largest island in the contiguous United States, Long Island extends 118 miles (190 km) eastward from New York Harbor to Montauk Point, with a maximum north-to-south distance of 23 miles (37 km) between Long Island Sound and the Atlantic coast. With a land area of 1,401 square miles (3,630 km2), Long Island is the 11th-largest island in the United States and the 149th-largest island in the world — larger than the 1,214 square miles (3,140 km2) of the smallest U.S. state, Rhode Island.
With a Census-estimated population of 7,838,722 in 2015, constituting nearly 40% of the state's population, Long Island is the most populated island in any U.S. state or territory, and the 18th-most populous island in the world (ahead of Ireland, Jamaica, and Hokkaidō). Its population density is 5,595.1 inhabitants per square mile (2,160.3/km2). If Long Island geographically constituted an independent metropolitan statistical area, it would rank fourth most populous in the United States; while if it were a U.S. state, Long Island would rank 13th in population and first in population density. Long Island is culturally and ethnically diverse. Some of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods in the Western Hemisphere are located on Long Island, particularly near its shorelines.
As a hub of commercial aviation, Long Island contains two of the New York City metropolitan area's three busiest airports, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, in addition to Islip MacArthur Airport; as well as two major air traffic control radar facilities, the New York TRACON and the New York ARTCC. Nine bridges and 13 tunnels (including railroad tunnels) connect Brooklyn and Queens to the three other boroughs of New York City. Ferries connect Suffolk County northward across Long Island Sound to the state of Connecticut. The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad in North America and operates 24/7. Biotechnology companies and scientific research play a significant role in Long Island's economy, including research facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, the City University of New York, and the New York Institute of Technology.