The name Rhode Island originated when the explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano wrote a letter detailing his exploration of the state in 1524 and compared the area to the Island of Rhodes in Greece. The name was made official in 1644, according to the Rhode Island Historical Society.
English colonists who settled there called the area Rode Island, as is noted in a letter written in 1637 by Roger Williams, the founder of the state. The state received a royal charter from King Charles the II of England in 1663, and was called the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. As of 2014, the state has retained the full name and is officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the longest name of any state in the United States.