Rhode Island Population 2016

The state of Rhode Island is the smallest in the United States as far as surface area is concerned, but it has a healthy population by comparison. The last official US Census in 2010 showed that there were 1,052,567 people living in the state, and that made Rhode Island larger than seven other states across the country. As of 2016, the 2016 estimated population of Rhode Island is 1.056 million.

The 2016 population of Rhode Island is estimated at 1,056,298, which reflects only a 0.3% increase over the figures recorded during the last official Census held in 2010.

Read on to find out more about the population of Rhode Island, or click through to our overview article about the population of the United States to find out more about the demographics of the country as a whole.

The national 2010 Census showed Rhode Island's population was 1,052,567. The state's history has been filled with small falls alongside increases, although it has gone up steadily at every official census.

Rhode Island has just 1,545 square miles, and the Rhode Island population figures mean that there are 1,018.1 people on average for every square mile. The state is second only to New Jersey in terms of density.

Rhode Island has a corridor of population from the large Providence area to the northwest, following Blackstone River to Woonsocket. The state has just five counties, but no county government. Only the city of Providence has a population over 100,000, with an estimated 179,000 residents. Following in size are Warwick (81,699), Cranston (81,076), Pawtucket (71,591) and East Providence (47,408).

Rhode Island Population History

Although there has always been a healthy growth as far as the population of Rhode Island is concerned, it has been steady rather than spectacular.

In 1790, there were 68,825 people living in the state, and ten years later that figure had grown by just 0.4% to 69,122. The biggest increase in decade on decade terms came in 1850 when the Rhode Island population was measured at 147,545, a 35.6% rise on numbers from ten years earlier.

In its early days, Rhode Island was heavily involved in the slave trade, which eventually moved into the Industrial Revolution and fishing. Much of Rhode Island's growth and economy is today based on healthcare, education and some manufacturing.

Rhode Island Demographics

According to 2015 Census Bureau estimates, the Rhode Island population consisted of:

  • 84.8% White (73.9% non-Hispanic)
  • 7.9% Black or African American
  • 1.0% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 3.6% Asian
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander
  • 2.6% Multiracial
  • 14.4% Hispanic of Latino origin of any race

The largest ancestry groups include: Irish (19%), Italian (18.7%), English (11.7%), French (11,3%), Portuguese (9.6%), German (5.6%), French Canadian (4.7%), Polish (4.1%), Dominican (4.02%), Puerto Rican (3.14%) and Chinese (2.2%). The state has the highest percentage of people of Portuguese ancestry than any other state, as well as a high percentage of Liberian immigrants, accounting for 15,000 residents.

Rhode Island Population Growth

Rhode Island in the recent past has experienced a small decrease in population, which may continue. This is because its natural growth rate has declined as its population ages. Current estimates show there will be some growth between 2020 and 2035, but it will only be after some population decline.

Net migration has always contributed healthily to Rhode Island population statistics, although time will tell if this continues, and if it can make up for a population that is quickly aging.

The population of Rhode Island in 2016 is an interesting one to monitor because there are only very small fluctuations in numbers and there have even been some falls recorded throughout the State’s history.

With such a densely populated area, Rhode Island may have little capacity for further growth and the 2020 statistics could be very revealing. It's estimated now that Rhode Island's population will reach just 1.07 million in 2035, but then start to decline again by 2040.

Rhode Island Population in 2016 Source: Will Hart

Rhode Island Facts

  • The Narragansett tribe was the largest Native American group to inhabit what is now Rhode Island.
  • Providence was founded and settled in 1636 by Roger Williams, a minister who left Massachusetts when Puritan leaders began to force out settlers who did not believe as they did.
  • Settlers who wanted religious and political freedom came to Rhode Island.
  • Rhode Island is split into 39 municipalities and does not have a county government.
  • The oldest operating tavern in the US is The White House Tavern, which was built in 1673.
  • The highest percentage of Catholics in the nation reside in Rhode Island.
  • The state's official name is State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  • Rhode Island is home to the first Baptist church in the US and the oldest synagogue in North America.

Population Data via US Census

Year Population % Change Rank
2020 1,063,253 0.13% 44
2019 1,061,862 0.13% 44
2018 1,060,471 0.13% 44
2017 1,059,080 0.13% 43
2016 1,057,689 0.13% 43
2015 1,056,298 0.13% 43
2014 1,054,907 0.19% 43
2013 1,052,856 0.04% 43
2012 1,052,393 0.05% 43
2011 1,051,856 -0.07% 43
2010 1,052,567 0.04% 43
2000 1,048,319 0.44% 43
1990 1,003,464 0.58% 43
1980 947,154 0.00% 40
1970 946,725 0.97% 39
1960 859,488 0.82% 39
1950 791,896 1.05% 36
1940 713,346 0.37% 36
1930 687,497 1.30% 37
1920 604,397 1.08% 38
1910 542,610 2.39% 38
1900 428,556 2.18% 35
1890 345,506 2.25% 36
1880 276,531 2.44% 33
1870 217,353 2.21% 32
1860 174,620 1.70% 30
1850 147,545 3.09% 29
1840 108,830 1.14% 25
1830 97,199 1.58% 24
1820 83,059 0.77% 21
1810 76,931 1.08% 18
1800 69,122 0.04% 17
1790 68,825 0.00% 15
Rhode Island Population by Race
Race Population Percentage
White 910,253 86.48%
Black or African American 75,073 7.13%
American Indian and Alaska Native 9,173 0.87%
Asian 31,768 3.02%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 1,602 0.15%
Two or more races 24,698 2.35%
Languages Spoken in Rhode Island
Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 995,757 100.00%
Spanish 109,455 11.00%
Portuguese 32,100 3.20%
French 10,650 1.10%
Chinese 4,490 0.50%
Kru, Ibo, Yoruba 2,435 0.20%
German 1,620 0.20%
Mandarin 860 0.10%
Nepali 575 0.10%
Cantonese 535 0.10%
Rhode Island County Populations
County Population Rank
Providence County 633,473 1
Kent County 164,801 2
Washington County 126,517 3
Newport County 82,423 4
Bristol County 49,084 5