Rhode Island L.H. taken in early morning. The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (more commonly Rhode Island) is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is the smallest state by area, and also the state with the longest official name. Rhode (IPA: [ɹʷəʊd]) Island was the first of the thirteen original American colonies to declare independence from British rule, signaling the start of the American Revolution. An aid for navigation and pilotage at sea, a lighthouse is a tower building or framework sending out light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire. Lighthouses also provide coordinate location for small aircraft traveling at night. More primitive navigational aids were once used such as a fire on top of a hill or cliff .