The state of Rhode Island has a population of one million. Providence itself is home to about 176,000, but its metropolitan area extends into Massachusetts and therefore the population of the metro area can be said to exceed that of the entire state.
One of the most popular vacation spots in New England, Rhode Island is known for its stretches of beaches along a coastline that is speckled with vessel launching sites, marinas and yacht clubs. The state is also the location of 20% of the nationally registered historic landmarks, many of which are in Providence.
The city of Providence is bordered by the suburbs of East Providence, Pawtucket, Johnston, Cranston and Warwick. It is located on Narragansett Bay and is also served by the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers, which run singularly through the city and meet at the Providence River.
Providence hosts numerous maritime events and historic festivals throughout the year. It is famous for its Colonial buildings and Victorian houses, prestigious universities and award-winning gourmet restaurants.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S., only 77 km/48 mi long and 60 km/37 mi wide. Known as the Ocean State, it is made up of small islands that have been cut away by Narragansett Bay, the Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bay to form fishing ports and small historic towns, like Providence. The Rhode Island coastline stretches for 644 km/400 mi to over 100 white sand public and private beaches, harbours, large tidal marsh areas, small coves, salt ponds, steep cliffs and low rocky areas. Away from the coastline along the Connecticut border, the landscape waves into rolling hills.
The state of Rhode Island was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams who wished to establish a colony for religious freedom, separate from Massachusetts Bay Colony. Rhode Island was the first to establish its independence as a colony from Great Britain in May 1776. Its economy soon grew through shipping and farming. In 1793 its textile mill industry sparked America's industrial revolution. The US Navy was established in the state of Rhode Island in 1775, as Newport was considered to be an ideal naval base due to its deep, ice-free waters.
The ports of Newport and Providence soon became the New World's busiest ports. Today, the state's preservation of its colonial history is found in towns like Providence, which takes pride in its historic architecture and 18th century homes.