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Charlestown, named for King Charles II, was taken from the Town of Westerly, and incorporated in 1738. In 1747, it was divided, and the north portion of the Pawcatuck River became the Town of Richmond.

The town contains several natural resources features that define its character. The unusually large amount of conservation and recreation land in Charlestown reflects the amount of important natural resources in the town. Burlingame State Park, Ninigret Wildlife Refuge, Ninigret Park, and East Beach comprise approximately 20 percent of the total land area of the town and protect wetlands, fresh and salt ponds, a barrier beach system, and other valuable habitats. The coastal ponds, fronted by barrier beaches, provide a recreational resource for the state as well as the town, attracting visitors and serving as a focal point for development.

Charlestown is located in Washington County 15 miles SW of Kingston between Perryville and Dunns Corner. Charlestown is part of the Providence-Fall River-Warwick metro area.

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