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Facts About Rhode Island - The Smallest State in America By Land Area
Facts About Rhode Island - The Smallest State in America By Land Area

What is the smallest state in America?

Rhode Island, officially The State of Rhode Island, constituent state of the United States of America. It was one of the original 13 states and is one of the six New England states.

Rhode Island is not an island; its full name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is located on the East Coast of the US in the New England Region and is the smallest of the 50 US states in terms of area. It is roughly twice as big as Phoenix, Arizona, in comparison.

It is the smallest state in the union, measuring only 48 miles (77 km) long and 37 miles (60 km) wide, but it is also one of the states with the highest densities of people. Due to its extremely small size, dense population, and robust economy, it is closely bonded to its neighboring states.

Before English settlers started to arrive in the early 17th century, Native Americans had been living in the area around Narragansett Bay for thousands of years. Roger Williams, a refugee from religious persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who wanted to create a haven for religious liberty, founded Providence in 1636 on land he bought from local tribes, making it the first settlement in North America with an explicitly secular government. This makes Rhode Island unique among the Thirteen British Colonies. As a result, the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations gained the nickname "Rogue's Island" for being a haven for social misfits, political and religious rebels, and dissenters.

Rhode Island was the first colony to request a Continental Congress in 1774 and the first to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown on May 4, 1776, reflecting its status as a center of relative tolerance and freethought. On February 9, 1778, Rhode Island, which had been fiercely contested and heavily occupied during the American Revolution, became the fourth state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. It initially refused to ratify the United States Constitution in 1787, choosing instead to support a weaker central government. On May 29, 1790, it became the last of the original thirteen states to do so.

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Where is Rhode Island on the Map?

10 Facts About Rhode Island - The Smallest State in America
Location map of Rhode Island in the US.

Massachusetts borders Rhode Island to the north and east, Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound of the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Connecticut to the west.

Additionally, Rhode Island's close ties to the ocean, which include more than 400 miles (640 km) of coastline, are what gave rise to the nickname "Ocean State." Providence serves as its capital.

Between Block Island, Rhode Island, and Long Island, New York, it shares a brief maritime border with New York State. Deep within Rhode Island's southeast is Narragansett Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean.

10 Facts About Rhode Island - The Smallest State in America
General Map of Rhode Island, United States

Rhode Island Geography

Rhode Island consists of five counties, four major islands, and one estuary (Narragansett Bay).

The five counties are (ordered by their population (in 2019)) Providence County (637,000), Kent County (164,300), Washington County (125,500), Newport County (82,000), and Bristol County (48,500).

The geography of Rhode Island consists of two principal regions: the southern and eastern Coastal Lowlands and the Eastern New England Upland (ENEU), also known as the Eastern Highlands, in the northwest.

More than half of the state is covered with forests.


The largest island in Narragansett Bay and part of Newport County is Aquidneck Island, also known as Rhode Island, which is one of the four major islands that make up the Ocean State. On Aquidneck, 60,000 people reside. The population of the island is divided between Middletown and Portsmouth, with Newport being the largest town.

The Newport Bridge connects the second-largest island in Narragansett Bay, Conanicut, with Aquidneck Island and Newport.

Prudence, the third-largest island in Narragansett Bay, is home to a few summer colonies. 16 km or so separate Block Island's location from the mainland's coast.


The Pawcatuck River, one of the larger rivers, originates in Worden Pond and empties into Little Narragansett Bay. A significant tributary of the Pawcatuck River is the Wood River. The Scituate Reservoir receives water from the North Branch Pawtuxet River. The Blackstone River used to be the nation's most polluted river. East of Aquidneck Island, there is an estuary or tidal strait called the Sakonnet River.

How Many Rivers Are There In The US: Over 250,000 How Many Rivers Are There In The US: Over 250,000


More than 200 inland lakes and ponds of various sizes, most of which were created by humans, can be found in Rhode Island. The Scituate Reservoir, the largest inland body of water, is the primary source of drinking water for the city of Providence and the nearby towns. It is nourished by precipitation and several streams.

History of Rhode Island

Photo: Coolkidfacts
Photo: Coolkidfacts
In the seventeenth century, Providence Plantations and the Colony of Rhode Island were founded. In the 1630s, English colonists established their first settlement on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island.

As the first of the original thirteen American colonies to declare independence from the British Crown, the colony did so nearly 150 years later, in 1776. It did become the thirteenth US state to join the union, though, because it was the last to sign the Constitution.

When clergyman Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts Bay, the colony of Rhode Island was founded in 1636. Williams' religious beliefs were not shared by the Puritans. He claimed providence had brought him to his new home, "Providence," and gave it that name. Williams was followed by other religious exiles who established Newport in 1639 and Pocasset, now known as Portsmouth, in 1638. This diversity of religions went beyond the Christian traditions. The oldest synagogue in the United States is Touro Synagogue, founded in 1763.

Despite setbacks in King Philip's War, Rhode Island expanded. During the battle, Providence came under attack twice. King Philip (Metacomet) was assassinated close to the present-day city of Bristol.

Rhode Island takes pride in its open and independent mindset. The first university in America to admit students from all religions was Brown University, which was established in 1764. In May 1776, two months before the other colonies as a whole, Rhode Island, which witnessed the burning of the Gaspee, proclaimed its independence. Despite this, Rhode Island's history with slavery is complicated; despite being the first state to outlaw slavery, Rhode Island had the highest rate of slave ownership in New England due to lax enforcement. Due to the Triangular Trade, Newport experienced significant growth.

 Photo: The Odyssey Online
Photo: The Odyssey Online

The nation was leading the Industrial Revolution. Samuel Slater's Mill, the first textile factory built during the Industrial Revolution, is located in Rhode Island. Class conflicts grew as the area became more industrialized. Historically, the working class had no say in politics because only property owners could vote. Labor activists in the Ocean State established a separate government from the state legislature. This culminated in Dorr's Rebellion in 1842. Following the uprising, non-property owners were eventually granted the right to vote with a $1 poll tax.

After the Civil War, the nation as a whole sped up the pace of industrialization. A wealthy class of industrialists unheard of in American history was created during the Gilded Age. Millionaires from all over the Northeast constructed opulent estates in Newport, and many of these wealthy families made Rhode Island their preferred summer vacation destination. An expanding industrial sector and an increase in tourism businesses helped to support this.

Providence, a formerly significant city, experienced a severe downturn following World War II, which had an impact on the entire state. Its population had almost halved, it was decaying, and there were significant problems with organized crime. Many of Providence's cultural landmarks have undergone renovation since the 1970s, which has coincided with the state of Rhode Island's tourism generally exploding in the 2000s. Today, Rhode Island boasts a vibrant arts scene, a sizable LGBT population, and is once more a well-liked travel destination.

Rhode Island underwent a challenging transformation from a highly industrialized to a service economy in the 20th century. With the exception of the years during World War II, the deindustrialization process started early in the century and progressed steadily. According to Britannica, the government, health care, financial services, education, and tourism are the main pillars of Rhode Island's economy today.

Fisheries, forestry, and related services make up a very small portion of Rhode Island's total annual revenue. Since the end of the 18th century, agriculture has been steadily declining, and today only a small portion of the state's land area is under cultivation. The official state bird and emblem of Rhode Island is the egg-laying Rhode Island Red chicken, but the state's economy does not significantly depend on egg production. The majority of the state's agricultural output was comprised of turf farming and nursery products.

Who is Gina Raimondo - the Governor of Rhode Island: Biography, Time Life, Career and Family Who is Gina Raimondo - the Governor of Rhode Island: Biography, Time Life, Career and Family

Interesting Facts About Rhode Island

1. Rhode Island is the smallest state in size in the United States. It covers an area of 1,214 square miles. Its distances North to South are 48 miles and East to West 37 miles. Rhode Island was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state.

2. Many of the mammals in Rhode Island were hunted to nearly extinction during colonial times. However, some of those creatures have returned. Beavers, fishers (a species of weasel), and black bears have all made a comeback to the land. Raccoons, river otters, and minks are some other typical mammals.

Photo:  Henry L. Ferguson Museum
Photo: Henry L. Ferguson Museum

3. The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, was where the US Open first took place. Newport still hosts a tournament in July where you can watch tennis greats compete on grass up close for a lot less money than the Open, despite the fact that the event has moved to New York.

4. The oldest synagogue in the United States, Tuoro Synagogue, is in Newport. Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams when he was expelled from Massachusetts because of his religious beliefs. He started the state to provide religious freedom for all.

5. Even though Harlem and New Orleans are where jazz is most frequently associated with, the nation's oldest annual jazz festival is held in Newport. In 1954, a jazz festival was introduced to upper-class, white Newport, but it was met with some resistance and problems (complaints from locals and prejudice against black musicians). In the 1970s, the festival was moved to New York due to unrest and worries about the crowds. The Newport Jazz Festival made a comeback in the 1980s after Rhode Island started to embrace tourism. Today, it ranks among the most important jazz events in the nation.

Photo: JamBase
Photo: JamBase

6. One of Rhode Island’s most recognized icons is a 58-foot long Eastern Subterranean Termite called The Big Blue Bug, or “Nibbles Woodaway” which looms over 95 south. He welcomes people into the capital city of Providence, often dressed in seasonal garb. Right now, he is wearing a mask.

7. Rhode Island’s capital building has the fourth-largest self-supported marble dome in the world. Ours is gold coated and supports a statue of “The Independent Man.”

8. The state shell is a Quahog, a hard-shelled clam native to the east coast. When you drive by Rhode Island’s shallow coastal waters, you will likely see people clamming for them.

9. Portsmouth, Rhode Island was founded by Anne Hutchinson in 1640. Hutchinson was the first American woman to establish a town.

Photo: Biography
Photo: Biography

With encouragement from Roger Williams, who founded Providence Plantations and the Colony of Rhode Island, Hutchinson and many of her supporters founded the town of Portsmouth. Threats of Massachusetts annexing Rhode Island and her husband's death a few years later forced Hutchinson to relocate completely outside the Boston area into Dutch territory. She settled with her younger children close to an old landmark, Split Rock, in what would later become The Bronx in New York City, while her older five surviving children remained in New England or England. At the time, hostilities with the Siwanoy Indian tribe were very high. During Kieft's War in August 1643, Hutchinson, six of her children, and other family members were killed by Siwanoys. Her kidnapped nine-year-old daughter Susanna was the sole survivor.

Hutchinson is a pivotal figure in the history of women in ministry and the freedom of religion in England's American colonies. She challenged the power of the clergy. A State House monument in Massachusetts honors her and refers to her as a "courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration". The phrase "the most famous—or infamous—English woman in colonial American history" has been used to describe her.

10. The shortest state motto among the 50 states is "Hope," which is the state motto of Rhode Island. The state of Rhode Island's official motto is "Hope." The arms of the state, which are depicted on Rhode Island's great seal and state flag, bear the state motto. According to the state symbol USA, the phrase "hope we have as an anchor of the soul" from the Bible likely served as the source of inspiration for the word "hope."

Photo:  American Craft Beer
Photo: American Craft Beer

Race and Ethnic groups of Rhode Island

The ethnic groups of Rhode Island consist of Caucasian 72.0%, Hispanic or Latino 15.9%, African American 8.4%, Asian 3.6%, and Native American 1.1%. [4]

The busiest airport in the state is Providence/Warwick Theodore Francis Green State Airport (IATA code: PVD).

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