Rhode Island Facts

Rhode Island shares its western border with Connecticut and north-eastern border with Massachusetts. The state proclaimed its independence from British rule on 4th May 1776 becoming the first original colony to do so.

Quick Facts

Official Name Rhode island
Area1,214 sq mi (3,140 km2)
Largest CityProvidence
Official LanguagesNo official language ( Spoken : 2000 U.S. Census English 84%, Spanish 8.07%, Portuguese 3.80%, French 1.96%, Italian 1.39%, 0.78% speak other languages)
Time ZoneEastern: UTC 5/4
GovernorGina Raimondo
Lt. GovernorDaniel McKee
U.S. SenatorJack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse
AbbreviationRI, US-RI
Joined the UnionMay 29, 1790
NicknameThe Plantation State, Little Rhody, The Ocean State
Highest PointJerimoth Hill
Lowest PointAtlantic Ocean
Official Websitewww.ri.gov

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Location and Geography : Rhode Island is notable for being the smallest state in the country, located in the New England region directly underneath Massachusetts. Much of Rhode Island’s mass is actually made up of water, although, contrary to its common name, it is not an island but a coastal area.

Counties and Regions : Rhode Island, being small, has only five counties. These do not have provisional governments, and instead the most powerful local governments are those of the cities and towns. The general regions of Rhode Islands could be described as follows:

  • Blackstone Valley
  • Block Island
  • East Bay
  • South County
  • West Bay

Population : With a little over one million people, Rhode Island does not have one of the highest populations in the country in terms of absolute numbers. Its small land area, however, means that it is ranked second in terms of population density.

Major Cities : Rhode Island’s capital is the city of Providence, one of the oldest cities to be founded in the American Colonies. It is also the state’s most populous city, and the center of a metropolitan area that covers most of Rhode Island and part of the adjoining state of Massachusetts. The number of people living in the metropolitan area of Providence, therefore, surpasses the number of people living in Rhode Island itself.

Story Behind the Name : Rhode Islands’ official name is actually “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” which is the reason why most of the state is actually not an island at all. The island originally called Rhode Island was likely either named after the Greek island of Rhodes or derived from a Dutch phrase meaning “Red Island,” but nobody is quite certain as to the origin.

History and Colonization : The area that would later be
known as Rhode Island was home to several Native American tribes before European contact. Most of these remained in the area for some time afterward, as it was not settled as extensively as places like New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania (although European diseases still took their toll on the population).

The first Englishmen to found permanent towns in the area were dissidents from Massachusetts who had been expelled for their religious views. They settled on land that they had bartered from the local natives, and over time, these settlements began to prosper. White settlers on Rhode Island had generally peaceful relations with the Native Americans that lived there, but warfare from surrounding colonies often spilled over and eventually killed or drove most of the natives out.

Rhode Island had fostered a rebellious culture from the beginning, and would become the first of the Thirteen Original Colonies to declare its independence from Great Britain. It would be the last to ratify the U.S. Constitution, however, as its leaders feared that the document would put too many restrictions on the people’s liberty. They ratified the Constitution only after the inclusion of the Bill of Rights, and while under threat of trading restrictions from other states.

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, slavery flourished in Rhode Island much more so than in other parts of New England. Rhode Island’s merchants engaged in a prosperous rum and slave trade with other parts of the world, which encouraged a surprisingly high slave population in the tiny state. Abolitionist sympathies ran high in other segments of the population, however, and slavery was eventually minimized and abolished.

Industrial and manufacturing plants rose to prominence in the nineteenth century, and came to define much of the culture of Rhode Island. Being such a small state, advances in mass transit and the spread of urbanization impacted Rhode Island significantly. Today, it is a densely populated and largely urban or suburban state in which local government plays a major role.

Rhode Island Trivia

1.The distance between eastern and western points in Rhode Island is 37 miles and distance from south to north is 48 miles. Its aggregate area is 1,214 square miles. In USA it is the tiniest state.

2.During the American War of Independence the forces helmed by Cornwallis were defeated by Nathaniel Greene. Most experts on history opine that he was the best general of that era. He hailed from Rhode Island and served George Washington's immediate deputy.

3.Among the first 13 Colonies of USA that later on became states Rhode Island is the final one.

4.Independent Man was placed over the State House on 18th December, 1899. It has been set up using bronze and is covered in gold. It is 278 feet from ground and its height is 11 feet.

5.Rhode Island and New York are separated by a marine border.

6.A duplicate Liberty Bell's at Rhode Island has a crack just like the original version. Its height is almost 3.5 feet and its maximum width is same. In 1950 United States treasury Department gifted the bell to Rhode Islanders. It is located in State House's southern entrance hall.

7.Cogswell Tower was erected in 1904. It was done according to Caroline Cogswell's testimony and final will. It was built on a site that was used at the time of King Phillips War that was fought in 1676. It is located in Central Falls.

8.The daughter of Priscilla and John Alden is buried in Little Compton. This baby was the original girl child of European settlers in New England.

9.The ban recommended by the 18th Amendment was never approved by Rhode Island.

10.The retail capital of Rhode Island is Warwick.

11.On 28th August 1904 the original jail sentence for driving at an excessive speed was pronounced. The judge in question was Darius Baker and the sentence was announced in Newport.

12.Julia Ward Howe has written Battle Hymn of the Republic. She was an attendee of Channing Memorial Church. The church has been named after William Ellery Channing who played a prominent role in the Abolitionist Movement and Unitarian Church. It was set up in 1800.

13.The oldest match of polo in USA was played at a venue close to Newport. The match took place in 1876.

14.The earliest bar to have operated in USA is the White House Tavern. It was set up in 1673.

15.The original National Lawn Tennis Championship was organized in 1899. The tournament was staged in Rhode Island.

16.The poultry bred in Adamsville is famous around the world. Rhode Island Red Monument is a mark of tribute to it.

17.John F Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. The wedding took place in Roman Catholic parish, which is situated in St. Mary's. It was built in 1828 and is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the state. The Church also became famous for the said wedding.

18.The present building of First Baptist Church was set up in 1775. It was built first in 1638 by Roger Williams, the father of Rhode Island.

19.In 1895 the oldest golf championships for both part-timers and professional were organized in Rhode Island.

20.The first rural community in New England is Pawtuxet. It is located in Warwick and was set up in 1642.

21.There are 39 municipalities in the state and all of these have their individual local bodies for governance. There are 5 counties in Rhode Island - Bristol County, Kent County, Newport County, Providence County, and Washington County.

22.The first ever library of USA is Redwood Library and Athenaeum. It is located in Newport.

23.Flying Horse Carousel is situated in Watch Hill, which is a resort town. It is USA's first merry go round.

24.The official symbol for folk art in Rhode Island is the Crescent Park Carousel. It is located in East Providence.

25.In 1774 America's oldest circus was inaugurated. It took place in Newport.

26.During the American War of Independence several frigates were drowned in Newport Harbor. The wood from these combat ships was used to build the Masonic Temple located in Warren. It was set up during the 18th century and earliest of its kind in the New England region.

27.Ann and Hope was inaugurated in Rhode Island. It was USA's original departmental store to have sold its products at a discounted rate.

28.Several colonists lost their lives while taking part in Pierce's Fight, which was a part of King Phillips War that took place in 1676. A monument named Nine Men's Misery was created in their memory. It is the earliest known American monument that has been dedicated to war veterans. It is located in Cumberland.

29.The Tennis Hall of Fame is housed by Rhode Island.

30.The earliest school in USA was set up in 1716. It is located in Portsmouth.

31.Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is how Rhode Island is officially called.

32.The most continuous celebrations of 4th of July have been taking place in Bristol. This sequence is the longest as well and has happened from 1785 onwards.

33.George M Cohan wrote a diverse range of musical pieces like You're a Grand Old Flag and I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy. He was born in 1878 in Providence.

34.Touro Synagogue was set up in 1763. It has the most ancient torah in North America. It is also the earliest of its kind in the continent.

35.Silverware and intricate ornaments have helped Rhode Island earn a lot of fame.

36.The only roofed bridge in Rhode Island is the Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge. It is located in Foster.

37.The biggest bug of the world is 928 times bigger than a proper termite. It is 58 feet tall and is blue in color. It is located in Providence - above New England Pest Control building's roof.

38.At the Battle of Rhode Island the British faced a tough stand by an Afro-American brigade. It was the first of its kind in USA.

39.There is a site for testing rusting at Point Judith. At this facility samples are exposed for several years - they are then examined to find out the extent of damage done by natural forces like water, sun light and air.

40.Stiletto was set up in 1987 in Bristol. It is the earliest torpedo boat.

41.The Gaspee was an English ship that was stationed at Narragansett Bay and was sunk by residents of Rhode Islands. This was the oldest military action taken versus England by people of America.

42.Streetlights lighted up using gas were used for the first time in USA in Pelham Street.

43.Roger Williams had been exiled from Plymouth in Massachusetts because he supposedly had some extreme concepts regarding freedom of religion and speech. He is credited with establishing an effective democratic model. He also founded Rhode Island.

44.Cumberlandite is found in Narragansett Bay's both sides. It is either black or dark brown in color and has white marks. It is the official rock of Rhode Island.

45.Roger Williams created the concepts of freedom of religion, freedom of public assembly and freedom of speech. This is why he has been acknowledged in the First Amendment to the US constitution by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

46.Quonset hut was a temporary structure built and used by the US military, starting in World War II.

47.Samuel Slater set up a cotton mill in Pawtucket in 1790. It was powered by water. This mill helped kick off the era of Industrial Revolution. Rhode Island also became the birthplace of this golden age of human productivity.

48.The height of Jerimoth Hill is 812 feet. It is the tallest point in Rhode Island.

49.It was in Newport that the original battalion of British soldiers arrived to quell the rebellion.

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Last Updated on: September 29th, 2017