The region is noted for a cultural unity, a stark climate and landscape of dense forests, and a shared economic history in the exploitation of logging and the regional fishery. Further uniting this area is the "Gray Zone" which is an area of land and sea which is claimed by both Canada and the United States. It is located off the coasts of New Brunswick and Maine. The only land within this area are two islands, Machias Seal Island and North Rock. The "Gray Zone" one of four areas between the two countries whose sovereignty is still in dispute, but is the only one of the disputed areas containing land. In 1979, both countries filed a joint application to the International Court of Justice to avoid having the dispute settled when oceanic boundaries in the area were set for mineral and fishing rights. Canadians have had a continuous presence in the area since 1832 when a lighthouse was built.
Though cross-border connections are widely acknowledged, the area has rarely been given a single name. "Atlantic Northeast" is a term that has been used most prominently in discussions of regional folk culture, but other names include "Novacadia", and "Atlantica".
These names are often tied to various proposals for greater economic or political integration of the region.