Outer Lands

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Coordinates: 40°48′N 73°18′W / 40.8°N 73.3°W / 40.8; -73.3

The "Outer Lands"

The Outer Lands is a term denoting the prominent terminal moraine archipelagic region off the southern coast of New England in the United States. This eight-county region of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, comprises the peninsula of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, Nantucket, Block Island, and Long Island, as well as surrounding islets.

Though the existence of this archipelago is widely acknowledged by geographers, it is rarely given a specific name. The Isles of Stirling was the name granted in 1635 when the islands came into the possession of William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling. "Outer Lands" is a term popularized by author Dorothy Sterling in her natural history guide of the same name.


The Massachusetts section is often called the "Cape and Islands", with the "Islands" subregion very specifically referring to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and other smaller islands in Dukes and Nantucket counties.

Long Island is often informally considered a part of the "New York islands", together with Staten Island and Manhattan. These islands are geographically contiguous with the broader region. (The insular Massachusetts sections were actually part of the Province of New York for most of the late 17th century.)

Other islands in Long Island Sound and Rhode Island Sound are also included often.


The Outer Lands forms the insular northeasternmost extension of North America's Atlantic coastal plain. The islands of the Outer Lands were formed by the effect of the recession of the Laurentide ice sheet during the Wisconsin glaciation.[1]


The region has historically had a strong maritime culture, with an emphasis on fishing. From eastern Long Island east, much of the region has in recent decades taken on a summer colony character.

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