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Rhode Island

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General background about this state

Rhode Island Flag     Rhode Island Great Seal


  Central Falls

Rhode Island is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered on the west by Connecticut, north and east by Massachusetts, and on the south by Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

  • NICKNAME: The Ocean State
  • POPULATION: 1,050,292 (2012 est.)
  • CAPITAL: Providence
  • STATE BIRD: Rhode Island Red
  • STATE FLOWER: Violet
  • AREA: 1,214 sq. mi.
  • TIME ZONE: Eastern
  • ENTERED UNION: May 29, 1790
  • ALTITUDE: High, 812 ft. Jerimoth Hill
  • CLIMATE: Cold winters, warm summers; temperature range modified by proximity to ocean. Moderate rainfall.


Rhode Island is not an island. It received its name in the 16th Century when the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano entered Narragansett Bay. His account notes that an island, probably present day Block Island, reminded him of historic Rhodes in the Aegean. Later, after Roger Williams had broken away from the Puritan intolerance of Massachusetts and set up a colony called Providence Plantations, Rhode Island became the name of the island on which Newport, the famous summer resort, is situated. In 1776 the state officially called itself the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

The textile industry of Rhode Island goes back to 1790, when Slater's cotton mill-the first successful mill in the nation-was built at Pawtucket. A state that has few raw materials, Rhode island nevertheless has advantages to offer industry; an abundant supply of water power, ready access to markets, and a large pool of highly skilled workers. Although the 19th century industries of jewelry, silverware, machinery, metal products and rubber goods are still important, plastics and electronics were the income producing products of the 20th Century.

Providence RI
Capital City, Providence, Rhode Island

The state's history has always been linked to the sea and seafarers. Rhode Islanders fitted out John Paul John's first fighting sloop, the Providence, and later furnished the nation with two great naval heroes-Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who won the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, and Commodore Matthew Perry, who in 1854 opened Japan to the world.



  • The Quonset Hut takes its name from Quonset Point, the Naval Air Station on Narragansett Bay where this type of structure was first built.
  • The rights guaranteed to all Americans in the First Amendment to the Constitution, including freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, were among the rights promised much earlier to settlers in Rhode Island by Roger Williams, the colony's founder.
  • The Rhode Island Red was one of the first chicken breeds developed to increase the quality and quantity of egg and meat production.
  • In colonial times, Providence was an important port in the Triangle Trade, which centered on slaves, sugar products-especially molasses-and rum. The Sugar Act of 1764 threatened Rhode Island's economy and caused the colony to be among the first to push for an end to British rule.
  • The first circus in the United States was in Newport in 1774.
  • The first Afro-American regiment to fight for America made a gallant stand against the British in the Battle of Rhode Island.


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