|Founded||June 3, 1729|
|Named for||George Washington|
|Largest town||South Kingstown|
|• Total||563 sq mi (1,460 km2)|
|• Land||329 sq mi (850 km2)|
|• Water||234 sq mi (610 km2) 41%%|
|• Density||830/sq mi (320/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Washington County, known locally as South County, is a county located in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. As of the 2020 census, the population was 129,839.Rhode Island counties have no governmental functions other than as court administrative boundaries, which are part of the state government.
Washington County was created as Kings County in 1729 within the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It was renamed Washington County on October 29, 1781, in honor of George Washington. At the earliest stage of colonial settlement, the area was called "The Narragansett Country", named after the Naragansett tribe and its tributary tribe the Niantics, both of whom lived in the area.
Early land purchases in the Narragansett Country were effected by settlers after the establishment of Indian trading posts at Fort Neck in Charlestown, and at "Smith's Castle" in Wickford. A series of conflicts involving the Manisseans on Block Island gave that island to the Massachusetts Bay Colony for a number of years, before being transferred to the Rhode Island Colony under Newport County, and then finally to Washington County in 1959.
The borders of the Narragansett country were disputed for nearly 100 years among the colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The Narragansetts had pledged their fealty to King Charles, and the area was known as "The King's Province" and was placed under the authority of Rhode Island "until the King's pleasure was further known". In 1664, a royal commission under Charles II stepped in to adjudicate these conflicting claims. The commission extinguished the claims of Massachusetts, and Rhode Island was granted jurisdiction until the commission finished processing Connecticut's appeals, which were not ended until 1726. Settlements of King's Province were named to reflect the English Restoration, in honor of King Charles II. Towns reflecting this history include the two Kingstowns and Charlestown, as well as the villages of Kingston and West Kingston.
Washington County is also known in Rhode Island as "South County",though some definitions of South County include outside towns, such as East Greenwich in neighboring Kent County, and exclude towns within Washington County, such as New Shoreham.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 563 square miles (1,460 km2), of which 329 square miles (850 km2) is land and 234 square miles (610 km2) (41%) is water. It is the largest county in Rhode Island by total area. The county's topography ranges from flat along the shoreline to gently rolling hills farther inland. The highest point is a large area approximately 560 feet (171 m) above sea level in the Exeter neighborhood of Black Plain; the lowest point is sea level along the coast. The northern boundary west of Davisville is approximately 41.60°N. The western boundary north of Westerly is approximately 71.79°W.
|U.S. Decennial Census |
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 126,979 people, 49,177 households, and 32,297 families residing in the county. 385.7 inhabitants per square mile (148.9/km2). There were 62,206 housing units at an average density of 188.9 per square mile (72.9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.8% white, 1.6% Asian, 1.2% black or African American, 0.9% American Indian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.4% of the population.The population density was
The largest ancestry groups were:
Of the 49,177 households, 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95. The median age was 42.3 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $70,285 and the median income for a family was $87,999. Males had a median income of $59,598 versus $44,851 for females. The per capita income for the county was $34,737. About 3.4% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
Similar to other counties in Rhode Island, Washington County votes Democratic in presidential elections, having last voted Republican in 1984.
|Year||Republican / Whig||Democratic||Third party|
Providence County is the most populous county in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. As of the 2020 census, the county's population was 660,741, or 60.2% of the state's population. Providence County contains the city of Providence, the state capital of Rhode Island and the county's most populous city, with an estimated 179,335 residents in 2018. Providence County is included in the Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in turn constitutes a portion of the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area. In 2010, the center of population of Rhode Island was located in Providence County, in the city of Cranston.
Ashaway is an unincorporated village and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, USA. It is a principal village of Hopkinton, along with Hope Valley, although it is the smaller of the two. The population was 1,485 at the 2010 census. The name Ashaway is derived from the American Indian name for the river that runs through the village, the Ashawague or Ashawaug, which means "land in the middle" or "land between" in the Niantic and Mohegan languages. The name "Ashawague River" appears as late as 1832 on the Findley map of Rhode Island published in Philadelphia.
Charlestown is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 7,997 at the 2020 census.
Exeter is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. Exeter extends east from the Connecticut border to the town of North Kingstown. It is bordered to the north by West Greenwich and East Greenwich, and to the south by Hopkinton, Richmond, and South Kingstown. Exeter's postal code is 02822, although small parts of the town have the mailing address West Kingston (02892) or Saunderstown (02874). The population was 6,460 at the 2020 census.
Hopkinton is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island. The population was 8,398 at the 2020 census.
Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 14,532 at the 2020 census. However, during the summer months the town's population more than doubles to near 34,000. The town of Narragansett occupies a narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay. It was separated from South Kingstown in 1888 and incorporated as a town in 1901.
North Kingstown is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States, and is part of the Providence metropolitan area. The population was 27,732 in the 2020 census. North Kingstown is home to the birthplace of American portraitist Gilbert Stuart, who was born in the village of Saunderstown. Within the town is Quonset Point, location of the former Naval Air Station Quonset Point, known for the invention of the Quonset hut, as well as the historic village of Wickford.
Richmond is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island. The population was 8,020 at the 2020 census. It contains the villages of Alton, Arcadia, Barberville, Carolina, Hillsdale, Kenyon, Shannock, Tug Hollow, Usquepaug, Wood River Junction, Woodville, and Wyoming. Students in Richmond are part of the Chariho Regional School District.
South Kingstown is a town in, and the county seat of, Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 31,931 at the 2020 census. South Kingstown is the second largest town in Rhode Island by total geographic area, behind New Shoreham, and the third largest town in Rhode Island by geographic land area, behind Exeter and Coventry.
Westerly is a town on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island, first settled by English colonists in 1661 and incorporated as a municipality in 1669. It is a beachfront community on the south shore of the state with a population of 23,359 as of the 2020 census.
Scouting in Rhode Island has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live.
The Pawcatuck River is a river in the US states of Rhode Island and Connecticut flowing approximately 34 miles (55 km). There are eight dams along the river's length. USS Pawcatuck was named after the river.
Kingston is a village and a census-designated place within the town of South Kingstown in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States, and the site of the main campus of the University of Rhode Island. The population was 6,974 at the 2010 census. Much of the village center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Kingston Village Historic District. It was originally known as Little Rest.
Route 1A, largely signed as Scenic 1A, is a 33.3-mile (53.6 km) long numbered state highway located in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The route, which parallels U.S. Route 1 for its entire length, has four distinct sections connected by US 1, two of which require median u-turn ramps to cross US 1. It travels through five towns in Washington County: Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Narragansett, and North Kingstown.
Chariho is a regional school district located in southern Rhode Island shared by three adjacent towns; Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton. The name Chariho is a portmanteau derived by taking the first two letters from each town name and combining them together. The district operates four elementary schools, two of which are located in Hopkinton, in the villages of Ashaway and Hope Valley, one in Charlestown, and one in Richmond. The Chariho campus located in the Richmond village of Wood River Junction houses the Middle and High Schools, as well as the Chariho Career And Technical Center.
Saunderstown is a small village and historic district in the towns of Narragansett and North Kingstown in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. Saunderstown has its own post office with the ZIP Code of 02874, which also includes a small part of South Kingstown. Its population is 6,245.
Sun Publishing Company is a daily and weekly newspaper publisher in southwest Rhode Island and southeast Connecticut, United States. It is a Westerly, Rhode Island-based subsidiary of RISN Operations.
The South County History Center, which formerly operated as the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, is a nonprofit organization in Kingston, Rhode Island, United States, that preserves and interprets the material culture of South County through exhibits and study of archival, library and artifact collections.
Charlestown is a census-designated place (CDP) in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States, comprising the main village in the town of Charlestown and additional land extending to the east into the town of South Kingstown. It was first listed as a CDP prior to the 2020 census.
Hopkinton is a census-designated place (CDP) in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States, comprising the central village in the town of Hopkinton. It was first listed as a CDP prior to the 2020 census. The village is also known as Hopkinton City, and the center of the village comprises the Hopkinton City Historic District.