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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 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.The major weather characteristic is variability, with extreme weather conditions such as tropical storms (including occasional hurricanes), ice storms, and heavy snow.More than three-fifths of the state is forested with secondary tree growth. Several varieties of oak are abundant and, with other hardwoods, form the bulk of the timber harvest.
Swamp maple grows in wet places, while cedar, juniper, and poplar fill in abandoned fields and pastures.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 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.
Aquidneck’s renaming as Rhode Island (a name that came to be used as shorthand for the whole colony) by the English in 1644 may have come in part from English settlers’ confusion between two foreign sources: Giovanni da Verrazzano’s earlier comparison of Block Island to the Greek island of Rhodes, and the name Roodt Eyland (Red Island), which the Dutch had given to Aquidneck because of its red soil.