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Rhode Island Facts

Rhode Island is a northeastern U.S. state that is the smallest in area and the eighth smallest in population.

Still, it’s the second most densely populated state (most people per square mile) behind New Jersey.


The state is best known for its scenic shores and seaside colonial towns, and it’s a popular destination for sailing, surfing, and fishing.


Quick Facts

Capital: Providence

Population: 1 million

Nickname: The Ocean State


Key Cities: Providence, Newport, Warwick, Pawtucket, Narraganset

Postal Abbreviation: RI

Major Industries: Healthcare, tourism, financial services, manufacturing, education

Michael Faraday professor


How did Rhode Island get its name: There are a couple of different theories about how Rhode Island got its name. One is that it’s named for the Isle of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea.

Another is that the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block named it “Rood Eylandt,” meaning “Red Island,” for its red clay.

red clay

Date admitted to the Union: Saturday, May 29, 1790


Size: 1,212 sq. miles

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean at sea level

ocean coastline

Highest point: Jerimoth Hill at 812 ft.

Counties: 5

Famous locations: The Breakers, Block Island, Marble House, Cliff Walk, RISD Museum of Art, Narraganset Bay Beaches

RISD museum
RISD museum

Famous Rhode Islanders

Meredith Viera- journalist/talk show host

Pauly D- actor/disc jockey

Cormac McCarthy- author

Viola Davis- actress

P. Lovecraft- author

Will Blackmon- football player

freedom of speech

Fun Facts

Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, established the first working model of democracy.

He was kicked out of Plymouth, Massachusetts for having “extreme views” about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams publicly praised Williams as the inspiration behind the First Amendment.


Rhode Island is the smallest state in the nation. Over 400 Rhode Islands could fit into the state of Alaska, and 4,000 could fit in the United States.

Providence, Rhode Island is home to the world’s largest (fake) bug. It’s a 2-ton, 58-foot long blue termite known as “Nibbles Woodaway.”

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


Rhode Island was the first state to declare its independence from the British on May 4, 1776.

Rhode Island’s full, official state name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It’s the longest state name in the United States.

Rhode Island’s state motto, “Hope,” is the shortest among the fifty U.S. states.

More US state facts.