Cape Cod has a year round population and experinces a tourist season each summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day. There are approximately 150,000 year-round residents, but that number increases 3 times during the height of the summer tourist season. Tourists come from all over to enjoy the quaint Cape Cod Villages, the pristine sandy beaches, pro golf courses, boating, fishing, and countless historic landmarks. Thousands of summer visitors see it as sunny beaches, quaint towns with interesting shops, and a variety of entertainment opportunities.
Cape Cod is many things to many people. Perhaps more characteristic of Cape Cod are the residents: quiet, self sufficient, and individualistic. In either case, Cape Cod offers much for both the tourist and resident alike, especially for those personnel assigned to Air Station Cape Cod.
Physically, Cape Cod curls into the Atlantic for 70 miles. South of it lies Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabethan Islands, which guard the entrance to Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal joins Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay, technically making Cape Cod an Island. The land area of the Cape is 339 square miles or 255,360 acres.
Due to its constantly moving and dangerous shoals, since very early in its history Cape Cod's shores have featured beacons which warn ships of the danger. There are numerous working lighthouses on Cape Cod and the Islands, including Highland Light, Nauset Light, Chatham Light, Race Point Light, and Nobska Light, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which are frequently photographed symbols of Cape Cod.
The Cape has 15 townships, which constitute the County of Barnstable. They are referred to by the locals as upper cape, mid-cape and lower cape. The upper cape is where Air Station Cape Cod is located. Many of the townships, established two or three centuries ago, are divided into villages, which, although more widely known than the towns, are not politically autonomous. Each village offers a lifestyle and atmosphere of its own; broadly speaking, the villages along the shore of Cape Cod Bay retain the flavor of the past centuries, while those along the shores of the Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds are livelier, with more mercantile, banking, and tourist facilities. All Cape Cod towns are governed by town meetings, and the chief executive officers in each town are either elected selectmen or town managers.