Rhode Island has an interesting history. Roger Williams founded the colony in 1636. He guaranteed religious and political freedom. Religious refugees from the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled in Rhode Island. It was one of the most liberal colonies.
Rhode Island was the home of the first Baptist church, the first Jewish synagogue, and one of the first Quaker meetinghouses. On May 4, 1776, it became the first state to formally declare its independence from Great Britain. However, the state's leaders were fearful of a too powerful government, so they refused to ratify the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added to it. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island became the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.
Rhode Island has the longest official name of any state. Its official name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The official name comes from Aquidneck Island, the large island in Narragansett Bay officially named Rhode Island in 1644, and from Providence, the state's first settlement.
No one is sure where Rhode Island got its name. Some people believe that explorer Giovanni de Verrazano compared Block Island to the Greek Island of Rhodes in 1524. Others think the state was named "Roode Eylandt," meaning "Red Island," in 1614 by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block because of its red clay shores. Rhode Island is nicknamed the "Ocean State." Providence, the name of the state's capital, means "divine guidance." The abbreviation for Rhode Island is RI.
Rhode Island is a New England state bordered by Massachusetts to the north and east, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Connecticut to the west. It has the least area of any state; in fact, it's just over half the size of Delaware, the second smallest state. Because of its small size, Rhode Island is known as "Little Rhody." The state is also the second most crowded after New Jersey; it ranks second in people per square mile. About one-sixth of the state's residents live in Providence, Rhode Island's capital and largest city.
Rhode Island's landscape includes 36 islands. However, most of the state is part of the mainland of North America. The state is almost divided into two parts by the Narragansett Bay and has over 400 miles of coastline. There are lagoons and salt marshes along the state's Atlantic shore. There are also rolling hills on Block Island.
Even though Rhode Island is the smallest state, it is one of the most industrialized. United States jewelry production started in the state and is still an important industry. Rhode Island is known for the fine silverware made there. Textiles, electronic equipment, rubber, and plastic are also manufactured in Rhode Island. The state is known for the Rhode Island Red, a famous breed of chicken.
Rhode Island is a popular place among tourists because of its landscape and pleasant climate. People visit the state because of the scenic beauty of the Narragansett Bay and its offshore islands. If you like boating, fishing, and other water sports, visit Rhode Island. Dine on quahogs, a type of clam, in Warwick, the state's second largest city -- it's located on the Narragansett Bay. When you're vacationing at Narragansett Bay, see the Naval War College. The state's beautiful Newport Mansions, many of which were built as summer homes for some of America's wealthiest families, also attract many tourists.