Of the two counties that make up what is known as Long Island, Nassau is the western-most, sharing its entire western border with Queens and entire eastern border with Suffolk County. Although smaller than Suffolk County geographically, Nassau County is more densely populated.
Nassau County is comprised of three towns (Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay), two cities (Glen Cove and Long Beach), 64 incorporated villages, and over 60 unincorporated hamlets. Residents generally think of Nassau County, and Long Island in general, as being divided into a north shore and south shore, with certain mid-island communities falling somewhere in between. The north shore is hilly and less densely populated than the south shore, which is better known for its ocean front and white-sand beaches.
Given its geographical location, travel (by land) to New York City, and to any other destination off of Long Island, is easier and quicker from Nassau County than from Suffolk County. Nassau County is also closer to Laguardia Airport and JFK International Airport, with some residents in the "Five Towns" living as close as five to ten minutes away from JFK, depending on traffic.
Nassau County was separated from Queens and became its own county at the turn of the last century. For most of its history, Nassau County consisted mostly of farms and rural communities.
In the early 20th century, the rich and famous of New York City began building elaborate "country" estates along the north shore of Nassau County, forming what became known as the "Gold Coast," and serving as the background for numerous books and movies, most notably F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," which was set in fictionalized versions of Great Neck (West Egg) and Manhassett (East Egg). Theodore Roosevelt also made his home on the north shore of Nassau County at Sagamore Hill, which still stands preserved today in Oyster Bay.
After World War II, William Levitt built his first "planned community" in Levittown, making Nassau County the birthplace of modern suburbia. Levittown, and the communitites that grew up around it, continue to serve as a model for suburban development today.
Some popular places and attractions in Nassau County include: Belmont Park (home of the Belmont Stakes), Roosevelt Field Mall, the Source Mall, Sunrise Mall, the Miracle Mile, Nassau Coliseum, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Lido Beach, Jones Beach, Eisenhower Park, Hempstead Lake State Park, Sagamore Hill, and Bethpage State Park (which is home to the world famous "Bethpage Black" golf course).