Rhode Island is the smallest state in America with 1,045 square miles of land. Despite its small size, Rhode Island has a shoreline of more than 400 miles along the mainland and islands. It's also the eighth smallest state by population, with 1,005,173 residents, based on the 2014 U.S. Census estimates, and it's the second most densely populated state.
Rhode Island's official nickname is "The Ocean State." One unofficial nickname is "The Southern Gateway of New England" as the state's harbors provide the depth for ships to navigate its waters for trade.
Two top-level minor-league sports teams are in Rhode Island. The Pawtucket Red Sox play in the Triple-A level International League and are an affiliate of baseball's Boston Red Sox. The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of hockey's Boston Bruins.
The longest state name in the U.S. belongs to Rhode Island, as it is officially known as the "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." Providence Plantation was the original name of the state when Roger Williams and several followers settled there in 1636. "Rhode Island" was added when Williams received a second charter from King Charles II of Great Britain.
Rhode Island was the first colony to ban slavery in 1652 and declare independence from Great Britain in May 1776. It was the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution in May 1790.