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Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island and
Providence Plantations
Largest City Providence
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
 - % water
Ranked 50th
4,005 km2
2,709 km2
1,296 km2
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 43rd
Admittance into Union
 - Order
 - Date

May 29, 1790
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
41°18'N to 42°1'N
71°8'W to 71°53'W
50 km
65 km
247 meters
60 meters
0 meters
ISO 3166-2:US-RI

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States. Rhode Island (pronounced "Road Island") is part of the New England region, and was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Although it is the smallest state in area, it has the longest name; the official name of the state is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations", Providence Plantations referring to the mainland portion of the state which was originally all part of the town of Providence and "Rhode Island" referring to Aquidneck Island on which Newport is located.

USS Rhode Island was named in honor of this state.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Law and Government
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Demographics
6 Important Cities and Towns
7 Education
8 Arts
9 Professional Sports Teams
10 Miscellaneous Information
11 External Links


Rhode Island Colony was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams after being banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious views. He settled at the tip of Narragansett Bay near the Mashassuck River, calling the site Providence and declaring it as a place of religious freedom for Baptist settlers. Historically, the land of Rhode Island is unique because it was purchased twice, once from the King of England, and once from the Native American tribes which lived on the land.

On May 18, 1652 Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal.

Charles II of England granted John Clarke a Royal Charter on July 8, 1663 to Rhode Island. Under the terms of the charter, only landowners could vote. Before the industrial revolution, when most people were employed as farmers, this was considered democratic. As the industrial revolution moved large numbers of workers into the cities, a permanently landless, and therefore voteless class developed. By 1829, 60% of the state's free white males were ineligible to vote.

Several attempts had been made to address this problem, but none passed. In 1842 Thomas Dorr drafted a liberal constitution which was passed by popular referendum. However the conservative sitting governor, Samuel Ward King, opposed the people's wishes, leading to the Dorr Rebellion. Although this collapsed a modified version of the constitution was passed in November, which allowed any white male to vote that owned land or could pay a $1 poll tax.

Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the United States Constitution (May 29, 1790) and did so only under the threat of being declared a foreign nation and having its exports taxed.

Law and Government

The capital of Rhode Island is Providence and its current governor is Donald Carcieri (Republican). Its two U.S. Senators are Jack Reed (Democrat) and Lincoln Chafee (Republican). Its two U.S. Congressmen are Patrick J. Kennedy (Democrat, District #1) and Jim Langevin (Democrat, District #2). List of Rhode Island Governors.


See: List of Rhode Island counties

Rhode Island is bordered on the north and east by Massachusetts, on the west by Connecticut, and on the south by Rhode Island Sound and the North Atlantic Ocean. Narragansett Bay is a major feature of the state's topography. Block Island lies off the southern coast.


Rhode Island's 1999 total gross state product was $33 billion, placing it 45th in the nation. Its 2000 Per Capita Personal Income was $29,685, 16th in the nation. Rhode Island's agricultural outputs are nursery stock, vegetables, dairy products, and eggs. Its industrial outputs are fashion jewelry, fabricated metal products, electric equipment, machinery, shipbuilding and boatbuilding, and tourism.


According to the 2000 census, its population was 1,048,319.

Important Cities and Towns


Smithfield, Rhode Island is home of Bryant College, a prestigious business school; Providence, the oldest and largest city in the state, is the home of Providence College and Brown University.

Rhode Island has several state colleges and universities, the University of Rhode Island, located in Kingston in the southern part of the state and Rhode Island College in North Providence.

Colleges and Universities

  • Brown University
  • Bryant College
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Naval War College
  • New England Institute of Technology


Professional Sports Teams

Miscellaneous Information

Area: 1,545 sq. miles
Population: 1,048,319 (2000)
Capital: Providence
Counties: 5 (see: List of Rhode Island counties)
Bird: Rhode Island Red
Flower: Violet
Tree: Red Maple
Nicknames: The Ocean State, Little Rhody

External Links