Delaware occupies the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula and is the second smallest, the sixth least populous, but the sixth most densely populated of the 50 United States. Delaware is divided into three counties, the lowest number of counties of any state. From north to south, the three counties are New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. While the southern two counties have historically been predominantly agricultural, New Castle County has been more industrialized.
Before its coastline was explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape in the north and Nanticoke in the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the 13 colonies participating in the American Revolution. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, and has since promoted itself as "The First State".
The state was named after the Delaware River, which in turn derived its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (1577–1618) who was the ruling governor of the Colony of Virginia at the time Europeans first explored the river. The Delaware Indians, a name used by Europeans for Lenape people indigenous to the Delaware Valley, also derive their name from the same source.
The surname de La Warr comes from Sussex and is of Anglo-Norman origin. It came probably from a Norman lieu-dit La Guerre. This toponymic could derive from the Latin word ager, from the Breton gwern or from the Late Latin varectum (fallow). The toponyms Gara, Gare, Gaire (the sound [ä] often mutated in [æ]) also appear in old texts cited by Lucien Musset, where the word ga(i)ra means gore. It could also be linked with a patronymic from the Old Norse verr.
Delaware is 96 miles (154 km) long and ranges from 9 miles (14 km) to 35 miles (56 km) across, totaling 1,954 square miles (5,060 km2), making it the second-smallest state in the United States after Rhode Island. Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania; to the east by the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the eastern side of the Delaware River sharing land boundaries with New Jersey. The state of Delaware, together with the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and two counties of Virginia, form the Delmarva Peninsula, which stretches down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.
The definition of the northern boundary of the state is unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania was originally defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19.3 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in the city of New Castle. This boundary is often referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. This is the only nominally circular state boundary in the United States.
This border extends all the way east to the low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, then continues south along the shoreline until it again reaches the 12-mile (19 km) arc in the south; then the boundary continues in a more conventional way in the middle of the main channel (thalweg) of the Delaware River. To the west, a portion of the arc extends past the easternmost edge of Maryland. The remaining western border runs slightly east of due south from its intersection with the arc. The Wedge of land between the northwest part of the arc and the Maryland border was claimed by both Delaware and Pennsylvania until 1921, when Delaware's claim was confirmed.
Delaware is on a level plain, with the lowest mean elevation of any state in the nation. Its highest elevation, located at Ebright Azimuth, near Concord High School, doesn't quite reach 450 feet (140 m) above sea level. The northernmost part of the state is part of the Piedmont Plateau with hills and rolling surfaces. The Atlantic Seaboard fall line approximately follows the Robert Kirkwood Highway between Newark and Wilmington; south of this road is the Atlantic Coastal Plain with flat, sandy, and, in some parts, swampy ground. A ridge about 75 to 80 feet (23 to 24 m) in elevation extends along the western boundary of the state and separates the watersheds that feed Delaware River and Bay to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west.
Since almost all of Delaware is a part of the Atlantic coastal plain, the effects of the ocean moderate its climate. The state lies in the humid subtropical climate zone. Despite its small size (roughly 100 miles (160 km) from its northernmost to southernmost points), there is significant variation in mean temperature and amount of snowfall between Sussex County and New Castle County. Moderated by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, the southern portion of the state has a milder climate and a longer growing season than the northern portion of the state. Delaware's all-time record high of 110 °F (43 °C) was recorded at Millsboro on July 21, 1930. The all-time record low of −17 °F (−27 °C) was also recorded at Millsboro on January 17, 1893.
The transitional climate of Delaware supports a wide variety of vegetation. In the northern third of the state are found Northeastern coastal forests and mixed oak forests typical of the northeastern United States. In the southern two-thirds of the state are found Middle Atlantic coastal forests. Trap Pond State Park, along with areas in other parts of Sussex County, for example, support the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in North America.
Delaware provides government subsidy support for the clean-up of property "lightly contaminated" by hazardous waste, the proceeds for which come from a tax on wholesale petroleum sales.
Before Delaware was settled by European colonists, the area was home to the Eastern Algonquian tribes known as the Unami Lenape or Delaware throughout the Delaware valley, and the Nanticoke along the rivers leading into the Chesapeake Bay. The Unami Lenape in the Delaware Valley were closely related to Munsee Lenape tribes along the Hudson River. They had a settled hunting and agricultural society, and they rapidly became middlemen in an increasingly frantic fur trade with their ancient enemy, the Minqua or Susquehannock. With the loss of their lands on the Delaware River and the destruction of the Minqua by the Iroquois of the Five Nations in the 1670s, the remnants of the Lenape who wished to remain identified as such left the region and moved over the Alleghany Mountains by the mid-18th century. Generally, those who did not relocate out of the state of Delaware were baptized, became Christian and were grouped together with other persons of color in official records and in the minds of their non-Native American neighbors.
The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in present-day Delaware in the middle region by establishing a trading post at Zwaanendael, near the site of Lewes in 1631. Within a year all the settlers were killed in a dispute with area Native American tribes. In 1638 New Sweden, a Swedish trading post and colony, was established at Fort Christina (now in Wilmington) by Peter Minuit at the head of a group of Swedes, Finns and Dutch. The colony of New Sweden lasted for 17 years. In 1651 the Dutch, reinvigorated by the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, established a fort at present-day New Castle, and in 1655 they conquered the New Sweden colony, annexing it into the Dutch New Netherland. Only nine years later, in 1664, the Dutch were conquered by a fleet of English ships by Sir Robert Carr under the direction of James, the Duke of York. Fighting off a prior claim by Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland, the Duke passed his somewhat dubious ownership on to William Penn in 1682. Penn strongly desired access to the sea for his Pennsylvania province and leased what then came to be known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" from the Duke.
Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682. However, by 1704 the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so large that their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle. Penn and his heirs remained proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties. The fact that Delaware and Pennsylvania shared the same governor was not unique. From 1703 to 1738 New York and New Jersey shared a governor. Massachusetts and New Hampshire also shared a governor for some time.
Dependent in early years on indentured labor, Delaware imported more slaves as the number of English immigrants decreased with better economic conditions in England. The colony became a slave society and cultivated tobacco as a cash crop, although English immigrants continued to arrive.
Like the other middle colonies, the Lower Counties on the Delaware initially showed little enthusiasm for a break with Britain. The citizenry had a good relationship with the Proprietary government, and generally were allowed more independence of action in their Colonial Assembly than in other colonies. Merchants at the port of Wilmington had trading ties with the British.
So it was that New Castle lawyer Thomas McKean denounced the Stamp Act in the strongest terms, and Kent County native John Dickinson became the "Penman of the Revolution." Anticipating the Declaration of Independence, Patriot leaders Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney convinced the Colonial Assembly to declare itself separated from British and Pennsylvania rule on June 15, 1776. The person best representing Delaware's majority, George Read, could not bring himself to vote for a Declaration of Independence. Only the dramatic overnight ride of Caesar Rodney gave the delegation the votes needed to cast Delaware's vote for independence.
Initially led by John Haslet, Delaware provided one of the premier regiments in the Continental Army, known as the "Delaware Blues" and nicknamed the "Blue Hen's Chicks." In August 1777 General Sir William Howe led a British army through Delaware on his way to a victory at the Battle of Brandywine and capture of the city of Philadelphia. The only real engagement on Delaware soil was the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, fought on September 3, 1777, at Cooch's Bridge in New Castle County.
Following the Battle of Brandywine, Wilmington was occupied by the British, and State President John McKinly was taken prisoner. The British remained in control of the Delaware River for much of the rest of the war, disrupting commerce and providing encouragement to an active Loyalist portion of the population, particularly in Sussex County. Because the British promised slaves of rebels freedom for fighting with them, escaped slaves flocked north to join their lines.
Following the American Revolution, statesmen from Delaware were among the leading proponents of a strong central United States with equal representation for each state.
Many colonial settlers came to Delaware from Maryland and Virginia, which had been experiencing a population boom. The economies of these colonies were chiefly based on tobacco culture and were increasingly dependent on slave labor for its intensive cultivation. Most of the English colonists arrived as indentured servants, under contracts to work as laborers for a fixed period to pay for their passage. In the early years the line between indentured servants and African slaves or laborers was fluid, and the working classes often lived closely together. Most of the free African-American families in Delaware before the Revolution had migrated from Maryland to find more affordable land. They were descendants chiefly of relationships or marriages between white servant women and enslaved, servant or free African or African-American men. As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in England, more slaves were imported for labor and the caste lines hardened.
At the end of the colonial period, the number of enslaved people in Delaware began to decline. Shifts in the agriculture economy from tobacco to mixed farming created less need for slaves' labor. Local Methodists and Quakers encouraged slaveholders to free their slaves following the American Revolution, and many did so in a surge of individual manumissions for idealistic reasons. By 1810 three-quarters of all blacks in Delaware were free. When John Dickinson freed his slaves in 1777, he was Delaware's largest slave owner with 37 slaves. By 1860, the largest slaveholder owned 16 slaves.
Although attempts to abolish slavery failed by narrow margins in the legislature, in practical terms, the state had mostly ended the practice. By the 1860 census on the verge of the Civil War, 91.7% of the black population were free; 1,798 were slaves, as compared to 19,829 "free colored persons".
The independent black denomination was chartered by freed slave Peter Spencer in 1813 as the "Union Church of Africans". This followed the 1793 establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, which had ties to the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1816. Spencer built a church in Wilmington for the new denomination.
This was renamed the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church and Connection, more commonly known as the A.U.M.P. Church. Begun by Spencer in 1814, the annual gathering of the Big August Quarterly still draws people together in a religious and cultural festival, the oldest such cultural festival in the nation.
Delaware voted against secession on January 3, 1861, and so remained in the Union. While most Delaware citizens who fought in the war served in the regiments of the state, some served in companies on the Confederate side in Maryland and Virginia Regiments. Delaware is notable for being the only slave state from which no Confederate regiments or militia groups were assembled. Delaware essentially freed the few slaves that were still in bondage shortly after the Civil War, but rejected the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution; the 13th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1865, the 14th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1867, and the 15th Amendment was rejected on March 18, 1869. Delaware officially ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments on February 12, 1901.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Delaware was 952,065 people on July 1, 2016, a 6.0% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Delaware had a population of 897,934 people. The racial composition of the state was:68.9% White American (65.3% Non-Hispanic White, 3.6% White Hispanic)
21.4% Black or African American
0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native
3.2% Asian American
0.0% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
3.4% some other race
2.7% Multiracial American
Ethnically, Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 8.2% of the population.
Delaware is the sixth most densely populated state, with a population density of 442.6 people per square mile, 356.4 per square mile more than the national average, and ranking 45th in population. Delaware is one of five states that do not have a single city with a population over 100,000 as of the 2010 census, the other four being West Virginia, Vermont, Maine and Wyoming. The center of population of Delaware is located in New Castle County, in the town of Townsend.
As of 2011, 49.7% of Delaware's population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry). In 2000 approximately 19% of the population were African-American and 5% of the population is Hispanic (mostly of Puerto Rican or Mexican ancestry).
The largest European ancestry groups in Delaware are, according to 2012 Census Bureau estimates: Irish 18.1%
Note: Births in table don't add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
As of 2000 91% of Delaware residents age 5 and older speak only English at home; 5% speak Spanish. French is the third most spoken language at 0.7%, followed by Chinese at 0.5% and German at 0.5%.
Legislation had been proposed in both the House and the Senate in Delaware to designate English as the official language. Neither bill was passed in the legislature.
The religious affiliations of the people of Delaware are:Methodist – 20%
Baptist – 19%
No religion – 17%
Roman Catholic – 9%
Lutheran – 4%
Presbyterian – 5%
Pentecostal – 3%
Episcopalian/Anglican – 2%
Seventh-day Adventist – 2%
Churches of Christ – 1%
Other Christian – 3%
Muslim – 2%
Jewish – 1%
Other – 5%
Refused – 9%
As of the year 2010, The Association of Religion Data Archives reported that the three largest denominational groups in Delaware by number of adherents are the Catholic Church at 182,532 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 53,656 members reported, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 22,973 adherents reported. The religious body with the largest number of congregations is the United Methodist Church (with 158 congregations) followed by non-denominational Evangelical Protestant (with 106 congregations), then the Catholic Church (with 45 congregations).
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware oversee the parishes within their denominations. The A.U.M.P. Church, the oldest African-American denomination in the nation, was founded in Wilmington. It still has a substantial presence in the state. Reflecting new immigrant populations, an Islamic mosque has been built in the Ogletown area, and a Hindu temple in Hockessin.
Delaware is home to an Amish community that resides to the west of Dover in Kent County.
A 2012 survey of religious attitudes in the United States found that 34% of Delaware residents considered themselves "moderately religious," 33% "very religious," and 33% as "non-religious."
A 2012 Gallup poll found that Delaware's proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults stood at 3.4 percent of the population. This constitutes a total LGBT adult population estimate of 23,698 people. The number of same-sex couple households in 2010 stood at 2,646. This grew by 41.65% from a decade earlier. On July 1, 2013, same-sex marriage was legalized, and all civil unions would be converted into marriages.
According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Delaware had the ninth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.20 percent.
Delaware's agricultural output consists of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn.
As of October 2015, the state's unemployment rate was 5.1%.
The state's largest employers are:government (State of Delaware, New Castle County)
education (University of Delaware, Delaware Technical & Community College)
banking (Bank of America, M&T Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank)
chemical, pharmaceutical, technology (E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., AstraZeneca, Syngenta, Agilent Technologies)
healthcare (Christiana Care Health System, Bayhealth Medical Center, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children)
farming, specifically chicken farming in Sussex County (Perdue Farms, Mountaire Farms, Allen Family Foods)
retail (Walmart, Walgreens, Acme Markets)
Dover Air Force Base, located next to the state capital of Dover, is one of the largest Air Force bases in the country and is a major employer in Delaware. In addition to its other responsibilities in the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command, this air base serves as the entry point and mortuary for American military personnel and some U.S. government civilians who die overseas.
The recent merger of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and Dow Chemical Company (pending likely federal regulatory approval) has caused many to question the viability of DuPont in Delaware, which employs over 8,000 as the state's second largest private employer, as well as the stability of the state's economic future. In late 2015, DuPont announced that 1,700 employees, nearly a third of its footprint in Delaware, would be laid off in early 2016.
Since the mid-2000s, Delaware has suffered an onslaught of economic downfalls affecting stable middle class jobs including: the departure of the state's automotive manufacturing industry (General Motors Wilmington Assembly and Chrysler Newark Assembly), the corporate buyout of a major bank holding company (MBNA), the departure of the state's steel industry (Evraz Claymont Steel), the bankruptcy of a fiber mill (National Vulcanized Fibre), and the diminishing presence of Astra Zeneca in Wilmington.
More than 50% of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 63% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware. The state's attractiveness as a corporate haven is largely because of its business-friendly corporation law. Franchise taxes on Delaware corporations supply about one-fifth of its state revenue. Although "USA (Delaware)" ranked as the world's most opaque jurisdiction on the Tax Justice Network's 2009 Financial Secrecy Index, the same group's 2011 Index ranks the USA fifth and does not specify Delaware. In Delaware, there are more than a million registered corporations, meaning there are more corporations than people.
Title 4, chapter 7 of the Delaware Code stipulates that alcoholic liquor only be sold in specifically licensed establishments, and only between 9:00 am and 1:00 am. Until 2003, Delaware was among the several states enforcing blue laws and banned the sale of liquor on Sunday.
The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as "DelDOT". Funding for DelDOT projects is drawn, in part, from the Delaware Transportation Trust Fund, established in 1987 to help stabilize transportation funding; the availability of the Trust led to a gradual separation of DelDOT operations from other Delaware state operations. DelDOT manages programs such as a Delaware Adopt-a-Highway program, major road route snow removal, traffic control infrastructure (signs and signals), toll road management, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, the Delaware Transit Corporation (branded as "DART First State", the state government public transportation organization), among others. In 2009, DelDOT maintained 13,507 lane miles of roads, totaling 89 percent of the state's public roadway system; the remaining public road miles are under the supervision of individual municipalities. This far exceeds the United States national average of 20 percent for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility.
The "DART First State" public transportation system was named "Most Outstanding Public Transportation System" in 2003 by the American Public Transportation Association. Coverage of the system is broad within northern New Castle County with close association to major highways in Kent and Sussex counties. The system includes bus, subsidized passenger rail operated by Philadelphia transit agency SEPTA, and subsidized taxi and paratransit modes. The paratransit system, consisting of a statewide door-to-door bus service for the elderly and disabled, has been described by a Delaware state report as "the most generous paratransit system in the United States." As of 2012, fees for the paratransit service have not changed since 1988.
One major branch of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 (I-95), crosses Delaware southwest-to-northeast across New Castle County. In addition to I-95, there are six U.S. highways that serve Delaware: U.S. Route 9 (US 9), US 13, US 40, US 113, US 202, and US 301. There are also several state highways that cross the state of Delaware; a few of them include Delaware Route 1 (DE 1), DE 9, and DE 404. US 13 and DE 1 are primary north-south highways connecting Wilmington and Pennsylvania with Maryland, with DE 1 serving as the main route between Wilmington and the Delaware beaches. DE 9 is a north-south highway connecting Dover and Wilmington via a scenic route along the Delaware Bay. US 40, is a primary east-west route, connecting Maryland with New Jersey. DE 404 is another primary east-west highway connecting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland with the Delaware beaches. The state also operates two toll highways, the Delaware Turnpike, which is I-95, between Maryland and New Castle and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, which is DE 1, between Wilmington and Dover.
A bicycle route, Delaware Bicycle Route 1, spans the north-south length of the state from the Maryland border in Fenwick Island to the Pennsylvania border north of Montchanin. It is the first of several signed bike routes planned in Delaware.
Delaware has around 1,450 bridges, 95 percent of which are under the supervision of DelDOT. About 30 percent of all Delaware bridges were built before 1950, and about 60 percent of the number are included in the National Bridge Inventory. Some bridges not under DelDOT supervision includes the four bridges on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is under the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority.
It has been noted that the tar and chip composition of secondary roads in Sussex County make them more prone to deterioration than asphalt roadways found in almost the rest of the state. Among these roads, Sussex (county road) 236 is among the most problematic.
There are three ferries that operate in the state of Delaware:Cape May-Lewes Ferry crosses the mouth of the Delaware Bay between Lewes, Delaware and Cape May, New Jersey.
Woodland Ferry is a cable ferry that crosses the Nanticoke River southwest of Seaford.
Forts Ferry Crossing connects Delaware City with Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, New Jersey
Amtrak has two stations in Delaware along the Northeast Corridor; the relatively quiet Newark Rail Station in Newark, and the busier Wilmington Rail Station in Wilmington. The Northeast Corridor is also served by SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line of Regional Rail, which serves Claymont, Wilmington, Churchmans Crossing, and Newark.
Two Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX, provide freight rail service in northern New Castle County. Norfolk Southern provides freight service along the Northeast Corridor and to industrial areas in Edgemoor, New Castle, and Delaware City. CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision passes through northern New Castle County parallel to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Multiple short-line railroads provide freight service in Delaware. The Delmarva Central Railroad operates the most trackage of the short-line railroads, running from an interchange with Norfolk Southern in Porter south through Dover, Harrington, and Seaford to Delmar, with another line running from Harrington to Frankford. The Delmarva Central Railroad connects with two shortline railroads, the Delaware Coast Line Railroad and the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, which serve local customers in Sussex County. CSX connects with the freight/heritage operation, the Wilmington and Western Railroad, based in Wilmington and the East Penn Railroad, which operates a line from Wilmington to Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
The last north-south passenger train through the main part of Delaware was the Pennsylvania Railroad's The Cavalier, which ended service from Philadelphia through the state's interior in 1951.
As of 2016, there is no scheduled air service from any Delaware airport, as has been the case in various years since 1991. Various airlines had served Wilmington Airport, with the latest departure being Frontier Airlines in April 2015.
Delaware is centrally situated in the Northeast megalopolis region of cities along I-95. Therefore, Delaware commercial airline passengers most frequently use Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) for domestic and international transit. Residents of Sussex County will also use Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY), as it is located less than 10 miles (16 km) from the Delaware border. Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) are also within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of New Castle County.
The Dover Air Force Base of the Air Mobility Command is located in the central part of the state, and it is the home of the 436th Airlift Wing and the 512th Airlift Wing.
Other general aviation airports in Delaware include Summit Airport near Middletown, Delaware Airpark near Cheswold, and Delaware Coastal Airport near Georgetown.
Delaware's fourth and current constitution, adopted in 1897, provides for executive, judicial and legislative branches.
The Delaware General Assembly consists of a House of Representatives with 41 members and a Senate with 21 members. It sits in Dover, the state capital. Representatives are elected to two-year terms, while senators are elected to four-year terms. The Senate confirms judicial and other nominees appointed by the governor.
Delaware's U.S. Senators are Tom Carper (Democrat) and Chris Coons (Democrat). Delaware's single U.S. Representative is Lisa Blunt Rochester (Democrat).
The Delaware Constitution establishes a number of courts:The Delaware Supreme Court is the state's highest court.
The Delaware Superior Court is the state's trial court of general jurisdiction.
The Delaware Court of Chancery deals primarily in corporate disputes.
The Family Court handles domestic and custody matters.
The Delaware Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over a limited class of civil and criminal matters.
Minor non-constitutional courts include the Justice of the Peace Courts and Aldermen's Courts.
Significantly, Delaware has one of the few remaining Courts of Chancery in the nation, which has jurisdiction over equity cases, the vast majority of which are corporate disputes, many relating to mergers and acquisitions. The Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court have developed a worldwide reputation for rendering concise opinions concerning corporate law which generally (but not always) grant broad discretion to corporate boards of directors and officers. In addition, the Delaware General Corporation Law, which forms the basis of the Courts' opinions, is widely regarded as giving great flexibility to corporations to manage their affairs. For these reasons, Delaware is considered to have the most business-friendly legal system in the United States; therefore a great number of companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 60% of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Delaware was the last US state to use judicial corporal punishment, in 1952.
The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Delaware. The present governor is John Carney (Democrat), who took office January 20, 2009. The lieutenant governor is Bethany Hall-Long. The governor presents a "State of the State" speech to a joint session of the Delaware legislature annually.
Delaware is subdivided into three counties; from north to south they are New Castle, Kent and Sussex. This is the fewest among all states. Each county elects its own legislative body (known in New Castle and Sussex counties as County Council, and in Kent County as Levy Court), which deal primarily in zoning and development issues. Most functions which are handled on a county-by-county basis in other states – such as court and law enforcement – have been centralized in Delaware, leading to a significant concentration of power in the Delaware state government. The counties were historically divided into hundreds, which were used as tax reporting and voting districts until the 1960s, but now serve no administrative role, their only current official legal use being in real-estate title descriptions.
The Democratic Party holds a plurality of registrations in Delaware. Until the 2000 presidential election, the state tended to be a Presidential bellwether, sending its three electoral votes to the winning candidate since 1952. This trend ended in 2000 when Delaware's electoral votes went to Al Gore. In 2004 John Kerry won Delaware by eight percentage points. In 2008 Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in Delaware 62.63% to 37.37%. Obama's running mate was Joe Biden, who had represented Delaware in the United States Senate since 1973. Obama carried Delaware again in 2012. In 2016, Delaware's electoral votes went to Hillary Clinton.
Delaware's swing to the Democrats is in part due to a strong Democratic trend in New Castle County, home to 55 percent of Delaware's population (the two smaller counties have only 359,000 people between them to New Castle's 535,000). New Castle has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. In 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2016, the Republican presidential candidate carried both Kent and Sussex but lost by double-digits each time in New Castle, which was a large enough margin to swing the state to the Democrats. New Castle also elects a substantial majority of the legislature; 27 of the 41 state house districts and 14 of the 21 state senate districts are based in New Castle.
The Democrats have held the governorship since 1993, having won the last six gubernatorial elections in a row. Democrats presently hold seven of the nine statewide elected offices, while the Republicans hold only two statewide offices, State Auditor and State Treasurer.
Each of the 50 states of the United States has passed some form of freedom of information legislation, which provides a mechanism for the general public to request information of the government. In 2011 Delaware passed legislation placing a 15 business day time limit on addressing freedom-of-information requests, to either produce information or an explanation of why such information would take longer than this time to produce.
Delaware has six different income tax brackets, ranging from 2.2% to 5.95%. The state does not assess sales tax on consumers. The state does, however, impose a tax on the gross receipts of most businesses. Business and occupational license tax rates range from 0.096% to 1.92%, depending on the category of business activity.
Delaware does not assess a state-level tax on real or personal property. Real estate is subject to county property taxes, school district property taxes, vocational school district taxes, and, if located within an incorporated area, municipal property taxes.
Gambling provides significant revenue to the state. For instance, the casino at Delaware Park Racetrack provided more than $100 million USD to the state in 2010.
Wilmington is the state's largest city and its economic hub. It is located within commuting distance of both Philadelphia and Baltimore. All regions of Delaware are enjoying phenomenal growth, with Dover and the beach resorts expanding at a rapid rate.
Ranked by per capita income
- Greenville: $83,223
- Henlopen Acres: $82,091
- South Bethany: $53,624
- Dewey Beach: $51,958
- Fenwick Island: $44,415
- Bethany Beach: $41,306
- Hockessin: $40,516
- North Star: $39,677
- Rehoboth Beach: $38,494
- Ardentown: $35,577
Delaware was the origin of Belton v. Gebhart, one of the four cases which was combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States decision that led to the end of segregated public schools. Significantly, Belton was the only case in which the state court found for the plaintiffs, thereby ruling that segregation was unconstitutional.
Unlike many states, Delaware's educational system is centralized in a state Superintendent of Education, with local school boards retaining control over taxation and some curriculum decisions.
As of 2011, the Delaware Department of Education had authorized the founding of 25 charter schools in the state, one of them being all-girls.
All teachers in the State's public school districts are unionized. As of January 2012, none of the State's charter schools are members of a teachers union. One of the State's teachers' unions is Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), whose President as of January 2012 is Frederika Jenner.
Delaware's sister state in Japan is Miyagi Prefecture.
The northern part of the state is served by network stations in Philadelphia and the southern part by network stations in Baltimore and Salisbury, Maryland. Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI-TV, maintains a news bureau in downtown Wilmington. Salisbury's ABC affiliate, WMDT covers Sussex and lower Kent County; while CBS affiliate, WBOC-TV, maintains bureaus in Dover and Milton.
Few television stations are based solely in Delaware; the local PBS station from Philadelphia (but licensed to Wilmington), WHYY-TV, maintains a studio and broadcasting facility in Wilmington and Dover, Ion Television affiliate WPPX is licensed to Wilmington but maintains their offices in Philadelphia and their digital transmitter outside of that city and an analog tower in New Jersey, and MeTV affiliate KJWP is licensed to Wilmington but maintains their offices in New Jersey and their transmitter is located at the antenna farm in Philadelphia.
In April 2014, it was revealed that Rehoboth Beach's WRDE-LD would affiliate with NBC, becoming the first major network-affiliated station in Delaware.
In addition to First State National Historical Park, Delaware has several museums, wildlife refuges, parks, houses, lighthouses, and other historic places.
Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprise Delaware's beach resorts. Rehoboth Beach often bills itself as "The Nation's Summer Capital" because it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C. residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and in lesser numbers, Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town's charm, artistic appeal, nightlife, and tax free shopping. According to SeaGrant Delaware, the Delaware Beaches generate $6.9 billion annually and over $711 million in tax revenue.
Delaware is home to several festivals, fairs, and events. Some of the more notable festivals are the Riverfest held in Seaford, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin held at various locations throughout the state since 1986, the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral to mark the end of summer, the Apple Scrapple Festival held in Bridgeville, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, the Sea Witch Halloween Festival and Parade in Rehoboth Beach, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow in Oak Orchard, Firefly Music Festival, and the Return Day Parade held after every election in Georgetown.Professional Teams
As Delaware has no franchises in the major American professional sports leagues, many Delawareans follow either Philadelphia or Baltimore teams. The University of Delaware's football team has a large following throughout the state with the Delaware State University and Wesley College teams also enjoying a smaller degree of support.
Delaware is home to Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs. DIS, also known as the Monster Mile, hosts two NASCAR race weekends each year, one in the late spring and one in the early fall. Dover Downs is a popular harness racing facility. It is the only co-located horse and car-racing facility in the nation, with the Dover Downs track located inside the DIS track.
Delaware is represented in USA Rugby League by 2015 expansion club, the Delaware Black Foxes.
Delaware has been home to professional wrestling outfit Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). CZW has been affiliated with the annual Tournament of Death and ECWA with its annual Super 8 Tournament.
Delaware's official state sport is bicycling.
Delaware is also the name of a Native American group (called in their own language Lenni Lenape) that was influential in the colonial period of the United States and is today headquartered in Cheswold, Kent County, Delaware. A band of the Nanticoke tribe of American Indians today resides in Sussex County and is headquartered in Millsboro, Sussex County, Delaware.Several ships have been named USS Delaware in honor of this state.