As has been the case in most other states across the country, the increase in population and influence of Latinos in Rhode Island has been remarkable, particularly during the last two decades. According to the 2000 U.S. census, there were 90,820 Latinos in Rhode Island, accounting for 8.7 percent of the population and representing a growth of 108 percent since 1990. The growth rate was one of the highest in the country during that time and the largest in New England.
Latinos stand as the largest minority (i.e. nonwhite) group in Rhode Island. As of 2005, the state’s Latino population was estimated to be more than 112,000. Approximately 70 percent of this population is concentrated in three cities: Providence (the state capital, which is 30 percent Latino), nearby Pawtucket, and Central Falls. As a result of their increasing numbers, Latinos have displayed more political clout in recent years, with representation in Rhode Island’s state house and senate, as well as a more notable presence in local businesses, the arts, and the media. However, increased recognition, participation, and influence have not necessarily led to improvements in material, social, and economic conditions for most of the state’s Latinos, as many of the Latino community’s concerns remain unresolved.