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ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay, which was likened to the isle of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea. NICKNAME: The Ocean State; also, Little Rhody. CAPITAL: Providence.ENTERED UNION: 29 May 1790 (13th). SONG: "Rhode Island." MOTTO: Hope. COAT OF ARMS: A golden anchor on a blue field. FLAG: In the center of a white field is a golden anchor and beneath it is a blue ribbon with the state motto in gold letters, all surrounded by a circle of 13 gold stars. OFFICIAL SEAL: The anchor of the arms is surrounded by four scrolls, the topmost bearing the state motto: the words "Seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1636" encircle the whole. ANIMAL: Quahaug. BIRD: Rhode Island Red. FLOWER: Violet. TREE: Red maple. MINERAL: Bowenite. ROCK: Cumberlandite. LEGALHOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Victory Day, 2nd Monday in August; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Election Day, 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in November, in even-numbered years; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December. TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.
Rhode Island has a humid climate, with cold winters and short summers. The average annual temperature is 50°F (10°C). At Providence the temperature ranges from an average of 28°F (–2°C) in January to 73°F (23°C) in July. The record high temperature, 104°F (40°C), was registered in Providence on 2 August 1975; the record low, –23°F (–31°C), at Kingston on 11 January 1942. In Providence, the average annual precipitation (1971–2000) was 46.5 in (118 cm); snowfall averages 37 in (94 cm) a year. Rhode Island's weather is highly changeable, with storms and hurricanes an occasional threat. On 21 September 1938, a hurricane and tidal wave took a toll of 262 lives; Hurricane Carol, on 31 August 1954, left 19 dead, and property damage was estimated at $90 million. A blizzard on 6–7 February 1978 dropped a record 28.6 in (73 cm) of snow on the state, as measured at Warwick, and caused 21 storm-attributed deaths.
Rhode Island ranked 43rd in population in the US with an estimated total of 1,069,725 in 2002, an increase of 2% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Rhode Island's population grew from 1,003,464 to 1,048,319, an increase of 4.5%. The population is projected to reach 1.1 million by 2025. The population density in 2000 was 1,003.2 persons per sq mi, making Rhode Island the nation's 2nd most densely populated state, after New Jersey.
In 2002, forests covered 385,000 acres (159,000 hectares), about 60% of the state's land area. Some 340,000 acres (138,000 hectares) were usable as commercial timberland.
In 2002, there were an estimated 443,761 housing units, 408,272 of which were occupied; 61.4% were owner-occupied. About 55% of all units were single-family, detached homes; 37.4% of all units were built in 1939 or earlier. In 2002, utility gas and fuel oil were the most common energy sources for heating. It was estimated that 8,859 units lacked telephone service, 1,225 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 1,465 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household size was 2.52 people.
In 2002, 2,848 new privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. Much of the new residential construction has taken place in the suburbs south and west of Providence. The median home value was $165,458. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,305. Renters paid a median of $622. During 2002, Rhode Island received over $18.8 million in community planning and development aid from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rhode Island has no major league professional sports teams. Pawtucket has a AAA minor league baseball team and Providence has a minor league team in the American Hockey League. Providence College has competed successfully in collegiate basketball, winning National Invitational Tournament titles in 1961 and 1963, and advancing to the NCAA Final Four in 1973 and 1987.
Historically, Rhode Island has played an important part in the development of both yachting and tennis. The Newport Yacht Club hosted the America's Cup, international sailing's most prestigious event, from 1930 until 1983, when an Australian yacht won the race. It was the first time since 1851 that the cup had been won by a non-American. The cup was returned to America in 1987, but by a yacht from San Diego. Lawn tennis was first played in America at the Newport Casino, which was also the site of the United States Tennis championship from 1881 until 1915. Today it is home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Museum of Yachting is located in Newport as well. Dog racing at Lincoln and jai alai at Newport are popular spectator sports with pari-mutuel betting.
Other annual sporting events include the Tennis Hall of Fame Championships in Newport in July, the Annual Tuna Tournament near Galilee and Narragansett in September, the Rhode Island Marathon in Newport in November, and summer college baseball league play on Martha's Vineyard.
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