Rhode Island State Overview

By | October 5, 2022

Located on the northeast coast of the United States of America, Rhode Island is one of the smallest states in the USA with an area of 3,144 km². It borders Massachusetts to the north and east, and Connecticut to the west. In the south, the shores are washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rhode Island joined the Union on May 29, 1790. The name of the entire area was given by the Dutch explorer Adrian Block, who called it “Roodt Eylandt”, which could be translated as “red island”. Red probably because the soil lining the coast here is made up of red clay. Once the territory came under British rule, the name was converted to English and thus came to be Rhode Island.

The surface of Rhode Island is mainly lowland, with low hills rising in places – the highest point here reaches an altitude of only 247 meters. The coast is very rugged and forms the deep Narragansett Bay. The Sakonnet River runs through the state and you’ll also find the Scituate Reservoir. It has a maritime humid climate.

Around 1.1 million people live in the state, the population density is the second highest in the United States – 387.34 people per km². About 85% of the population is white, 4.5% black, 2% Asian and about 0.5% Native American. Hispanics, regardless of race, represent about 8.7% of the population. Around 88% of the people are Christian, Roman Catholics and Protestants predominate. Jews are also relatively strongly represented here. There is approximately 16% of the population without a religious affiliation.

An important branch of the state’s economy is the shipbuilding, electrotechnical, textile and food industries. The extraction of building materials is also important, and the production of jewels and bijouterie has a long tradition. Agriculture is focused on the cultivation of potatoes, vegetables, fruit, corn, cattle breeding and fishing.

The main and at the same time the largest city is Providence, located on the river of the same name. It is the third largest city in the New England region, with a population of around 180,000. Providence is one of the oldest cities in the USA, it was founded in 1636 by a prominent English theologian. Nowadays it is known for its jewelery industry. It is home to the renowned private university Brown University, which was founded in 1764 and is the third oldest institution of higher learning in New England. It is even the seventh oldest university in the United States.

Other larger cities in Rhode Island include Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Coventry, Cumberland and West Warwick.

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

The Blackstone River Valley is a region in the state of Massachusetts and part of Rhode Island. It is the place where it was born and where the foundations of the American Industrial Revolution were laid. The region was named after the river that flows through it for 80 kilometers and its catchment covers an area of approximately 1,400 square kilometers.

The Blackstone River itself was named after the Reverend William Blackstone, originally from Great Britain. He settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1623, becoming the first European settler in the modern history of Boston and Rhode Island. In 1635 he moved to Rhode Island, where he built a house on the river. The original Native American population of this location called the river Kittacuck, which translated means “Big Funnel Mouth”. The river was very rich in salmon and lamprey in colonial times.

The American Industrial Revolution began in the United States in 1790 when Samuel Slater built the Slater Mill near Pawtucket Falls. It was the first textile mill in the US to be powered by water from the Blackstone River. Subsequently, other factories also began to use the water power of this river to drive, which is why the Blackstone River was later nicknamed “the hardest working river in America”. However, industrial development in the area made the river the primary source of pollution in the Narragansett Bay area, which it was until the late 20th century.

In 1955, frequent floods on the river caused considerable damage. The originally 21-meter-wide riverbed turned into a 1.6-kilometer-wide strip of water that rolled over the fertile land. The floods were caused by persistent rains brought here by a tropical cyclone that swept over the state. The Blackstone River was designated a National River Monument in 1998 along with the Woonasquatucket River. Currently, the Blackstone River is a special type of national park. It is a populated landscape, but it also includes thousands of natural, cultural and historical treasures. Here we can find large cities, towns and villages, which together are inhabited by over one million people.

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site

Touro Synagogue is not only the oldest synagogue in the United States of America, but also one of the oldest symbols of freedom. He is a great example of freedom, equality and justice for all people. For more than two centuries, this small synagogue has stood on top of a hill, in a quiet location in the New England region of Rhode Island.

The synagogue has an irreplaceable place in American history, not only as part of the Jewish community, but also as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans. It is an example of the fact that people can freely and without state supervision decide on any religious belief.

The Touro Synagogue is considered one of the most architecturally distinctive historic structures built in America during the 18th century. The building was designed by architect Peter Harrison and thus created an interesting architectural work. Designated a National Historic Site in 1946, the Touro Synagogue is managed by the National Park Service and since 2001 has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site