Providence is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Founded in 1636, it is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It is located in Providence County, and is the third-largest city in the New England region after Boston and Worcester. Providence has a city population of 179,154 and is part of the Providence metropolitan area with an estimated population of 1,604,291, exceeding that of Rhode Island by about 60%, as it extends into southern Massachusetts. This can be considered in turn to be part of the Greater Boston commuting area, which contains 7.6 million people. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River, at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Providence was founded by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence", which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers to settle. After becoming one of the first cities in the country to industrialize, Providence became noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, the city of Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, which has shifted the city's economy into service industries, though it still retains significant manufacturing activity.
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