Why Is Rhode Island Called the Ocean State?

Rhode Island has the longest ratio of coastline per square mile.
The majority of fishing in Rhode Island is salt water fishing, though river fishing and ocean fishing also take place.
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  • Written By: Mark Wollacott
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 06 May 2015
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Rhode Island is a state in the New England region of the eastern United States. Known as the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island is also known for its beautiful coastline, which is dotted with small islands. As a result, it is sometimes called "the Ocean State," a nickname that fits it well.

Of all the states in the US, Rhode Island has the longest ratio of coastline to overall square mileage. Despite being only 37 miles (60 kilometers) wide and 48 miles (77 kilometers) long, the Ocean State has a total coastline of 400 miles (644 kilometers). This is in large part because of the 30 islands dotted around Narragansett Bay in the east of the State. In fact, the bays, inlets, and sounds make up more than 30 percent of the state’s total area. This means that all residents of Rhode Island — even those in the northwestern corner of the state — are never more than an hour’s drive from the Atlantic coast.

Due to its safe harbors and many plantations, Rhode Island became a strong center of maritime commerce during the colonial and independent eras of American history. Despite its name, Rhode is not actually an island, but it was home to a wide number of plantations, many of which included luxurious mansions with sea views. These gave property owners the sense that they were enjoying an island lifestyle.


The state's nickname continues to be relevant today, as the Ocean State remains an important center for commercial and hobby fishing. In addition to this it is a draw for tourists, who make up 65 percent of the anglers fishing Rhode Island’s waters. The majority of fishing in Rhode Island is salt water fishing, though river fishing and ocean fishing also take place.

Ports such as Newport on Aquidneck Island further enhance the nickname of the Ocean State by offering smooth waters for a wide variety of sailing vessels. This reputation for pleasant and safe waters has led Rhode Island to develop its tourism industry to include a considerable market for sailing. These pleasure voyages are complemented by harbor tours and a wide selection of scenic beaches across the state. In the Ocean State, local tourism depends on the waters that surround and dissect the state itself.


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Post 2

I'm planning a trip to the New England states this summer Rundocuri, and Rhode Island will definitely be on my list of stops to make. I didn't realize it was so well known for its great coastlines. I love any beach, so I'll have to check it out when I'm there.

Post 1

I visit Rhode Island every few years, and it has certainly earned this nickname. Its beautiful coastlines seem to go on endlessly, even though it is the smallest state in the country. I would encourage anyone who loves the ocean and spending time exploring unique beaches to visit Rhode Island.

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