Washington County, Rhode Island

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Washington County, commonly known colloquially as South County, is a county located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Washington County borders Kent County to the north, New London County in Connecticut to the west, Suffolk County in New York to the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Newport County, Rhode Island, to the east. As of 2000, the population was 123,546.

Formed as King's County in 1729 from the southern portion of Providence County, its name was changed to Washington County in 1781.

Rhode Island counties, including Washington County, have only judicial functions.[1]

Contents

Geography

Washington County is the largest county in area in Rhode Island. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 563 square miles (1,458 km²), of which 333 square miles (862 km²) is land and 230 square miles (596 km²) (40.87%) is water.

The county's topography ranges from flat along the shoreline to gently rolling hills further inland. The highest point is a large area approximately 560 feet (171 m) in the Exeter neighborhood of Black Plain[2]; the lowest point is sea level along the coast.

National protected areas

History

The region of southern Rhode Island that encompasses modern-day Washington County was the subject of conflicting land claims by the late 1650s. The English colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and Rhode Island as well as two different land companies claimed jurisdiction and title. In 1664 a royal commission under Charles II stepped in to adjudicate these conflicting land claims over the so-called Narragansett Country. 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 (like Charleston County, South Carolina), because King Charles II of England also finalized Rhode Island's charter.

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