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 state has a humid continental climate, with winds predominantly from the west.
Marine influences are discernible in differences between coastal and inland locations.
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.
Ash, hickory, and maple are widely dispersed, with some birch, black walnut, and hemlock also found in mixed woodlands.
Swamp maple grows in wet places, while cedar, juniper, and poplar fill in abandoned fields and pastures.
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.
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.