The State of Rhode Island


...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They
will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not
grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31



The music playing is titled
God Bless America
Performed by Jackie Evancho

First written by Irving Berlin during World War 1 in 1918, he rewrote the song in 1938 in response to
the rise of Adolf Hitler and fascism in Germany. He rewrote it as a prayer for peace, and it was performed for
the first time by Kate Smith on an Armistice Day broadcast (now known as Veterens Day) that year.


Rhode Island flag


Rhode Island, officially The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, 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 bounded to the north and east by Massachusetts, to the south by Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound of the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west by Connecticut. It is the smallest state in the union - only about 48 miles (77 km) long and 37 miles (60 km) wide - but is, however, one of the most densely populated states. The extreme compactness of area, proportionally large population, and economic activity have tied it closely to its neighbouring states. In addition, Rhode Island's intimate connection to the sea - including more than 400 miles (640 km) of coastline - is the basis of its nickname, the Ocean State. The capital is Providence.
Rhode Island's first permanent European settlement was made in 1636 by the dissident minister Roger Williams and his followers, who had been banished from Massachusetts. Williams, who was friendly and dealt fairly with the Narraganset and Wampanoag Indians in the vicinity, based his settlement on the principle of religious toleration and freedom of conscience; this attracted other nonconformists and shaped the colony's views. Providence Plantations, the first settlement on the mainland, on Narragansett Bay, was named by the minister Roger Williams, founder of the state, who credited Divine Providence with bringing him safely there in 1636.
The contributions of Rhode Island to the forming of the new country were remarkable. Particularly important was the concept of freedom of conscience - the legacy of Roger Williams. Rhode Island also had an important influence on the industrial development of the United States. Area 1,545 square miles (4,001 square km). Population (2010) 1,052,567; (2018 est.) 1,057,315.


Click on image to view a full size map of Rhode Island


Rhode Island map


The western two-thirds of Rhode Island is part of the New England Upland, with hills rising as high as 800 feet (240 metres) above sea level. The Narragansett, or Seaboard, Lowland comprises coastal lowlands and islands that are below 200 feet (60 metres) in elevation. The highest point in the state is Jerimoth Hill, 812 feet (247 metres) high, near North Foster. The state's territory includes Block Island, about 10 miles (16 km) south of the mainland, and several islands in Narragansett Bay, including Conanicut, Prudence, and Rhode islands.
Several river systems drain Rhode Island. The most important are the Blackstone, the Pawtuxet, and the Pawcatuck. The Blackstone River and its tributaries drain the northern part of the state. Originating in Massachusetts, the Blackstone once provided waterpower for the textile mills built at Woonsocket, Pawtucket, and a dozen villages in between. The Pawtuxet River drains the central part of the state. Its north branch was flooded in the 1920s when the city of Providence built a dam at the village of Kent. The resulting Scituate Reservoir is now the state's largest body of fresh water, supplying Providence and its neighbouring communities. The Pawcatuck River flows west across the southern part of the state into Block Island Sound, south of Westerly.
Mount Hope Bay feeds water from the Taunton River in Massachusetts into Narragansett Bay. The bay has always been Rhode Island's greatest asset, providing a convenient waterway running two-thirds the length of the state. The commercial trade of the 18th century - on which the wealth of Newport, Bristol, and Providence was founded - provided some of the capital for the industrial development of the state in the 19th century. However, once Rhode Island became industrialized, little was exported from the bay. It became the path for importing coal, oil, automobiles, and other such bulk goods. The bay has substantial recreational uses and still supports a considerable shellfishing industry, although pollution restricts the areas where shellfish are available.
The state has a humid continental climate, with winds predominantly from the west. Marine influences are discernible in differences between coastal and inland locations. The average monthly temperature is 29° F (-2° C) in January and 71° F (22° C) in July. The average annual temperature is 50° F (10° C), and the average precipitation is about 46 inches (1,170 mm) per year. The major weather characteristic is variability, with extreme weather conditions such as tropical storms (including occasional hurricanes), ice storms, and heavy snow.
Agriculture and related services, forestry, and fisheries account for just a tiny fraction of Rhode Island's annual income. Agriculture has been in a steady decline since the end of the 18th century, and the amount of the state's land area under cultivation is now negligible. The Rhode Island Red chicken, bred for its egg laying, is the official state bird and a symbol of the state, but egg production is not a notable factor in the state's economy. Nursery products and turf farming accounted for most of the state's agricultural output.
Efforts to clean up Narragansett Bay, begun in the 1970s, improved the health of the water, and shellfish landings of lobsters, oysters, and quahogs (the local variety of hardshell clams) had increased by the end of the 1990s. Fishing in the ocean had declined, however. Many of the preferred commercial species - flounder, striped bass, cod, and mackerel - were severely overfished in the 1970s and '80s, which led to the imposition of legal limitations on commercial catches. Rhode Island's commercial fishing industry declined, as did those of other New England states.
Except for sand and gravel, the state has no exploitable mineral resources, and the thin, rocky, acidic soil is barely fit for agriculture. The one great natural resource is Narragansett Bay, which has provided a living for fishermen since first settlement and has been a playground for visitors and vacationers since the 1730s. In the 19th century the shores of Rhode Island had so many resorts, beaches, and amusement parks that it was called the Playground of New England. Industrial and human waste and pollution ended much of this - until the rise of a vigorous environmental movement beginning in the 1960s.
Rhode Island became a pioneer manufacturing state, principally in textiles, after the American Revolution. Manufacturing concerns produced jewelry, silverware, electrical equipment, textiles, transportation equipment, and fabricated materials. As Rhode Island was deindustrialized in the 20th century, the proportion of wage earners in manufacturing decreased from nearly three-fifths in 1900 to less than one-sixth by the early 21st century. The decline of Rhode Island's textile industry was accompanied by that of many other manufacturers, notably those most closely associated with textiles. In most respects, Rhode Island suffered through an economic depression from the 1920s to the late '50s. The one manufacturing sector that bucked the general trend through most of the century was jewelry making, and Rhode Island was long dubbed the jewelry capital of the world. Until the late 20th century, the state produced much of the costume jewelry made in the United States, but global competition caused Rhode Island's share of even that activity to drop sharply in the 1990s.
Rhode Island has a strong reputation in higher education. Brown University, founded in 1764 as the College of Rhode Island, is part of the Ivy League. It is noted for its library facilities, especially the John Carter Brown Library, an independent research facility of early Americana. The Rhode Island School of Design (founded 1877), in Providence, is widely known, primarily for its training in the visual and graphic arts. The University of Rhode Island, in Kingston, is a land-grant institution dating from 1888. Roman Catholic colleges include Providence College (1917) in Providence and Salve Regina University (1934) in Newport. Rhode Island College (1854) is a four-year public liberal arts college in Providence. Other institutions include Bryant University (Smithfield; 1863), Johnson and Wales University (Providence; 1914), the New England Institute of Technology (Warwick; 1940), Roger Williams University (Bristol; 1948), and the Community College of Rhode Island (1960), which has campuses throughout the state.
Tourism is one of Rhode Island's leading economic activities. Notable historical sites of the colonial and Industrial Revolution eras abound on the mainland. The natural attractions of Block Island include public beaches, a large nature reserve, and freshwater ponds. Newport is the primary attraction for visitors, with its culture and the summer cottages - in reality, palatial seaside mansions - of wealthy Gilded Age families.
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