77 Interesting Facts About Delaware

Last updated on July 8th, 2023

Delaware is the 45th most populous and the 49th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the Mid-Atlantic or North-eastern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on December 7, 1787, becoming the 1st state to join the union. Its three bordering states are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Delaware (nicknamed: the First State, the Small Wonder, the Blue Hen State) has 3 counties. The postal abbreviation for Delaware is DE. The state’s capital is Dover. People who live in DE or who come from Delaware are referred to as Delawareans. With these facts about Delaware, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

Facts about Delaware

1. Wilmington is Delaware’s largest city.

Delaware big blue hen.
Delaware big blue hen.

2. Delaware adopted the blue hen as its state symbol in 1939 as a nod to the blue hen cocks carried by the revolutionary soldiers for entertainment.

3. Wilmington was once home to Bob Marley, the godfather of Reggae. Moving into the city in 1965, he resided at 2313 N Tatnall for 12 years together with his mom. At some point during this period, Bob worked for DuPont and Chrysler as a lab assistant/forklift driver respectively. Bob’s mom ran the Roots Music Store on market street till 1976.

4. Did you know that Del. has only three counties (they are New Castle, Kent, and Sussex), the lowest number of any state? On the other hand, Texas (254 counties) has the most number of counties of any state in the United States.

5. Sussex (950 square miles) is the largest county of the three, followed by Kent (594 square miles) and then New Castle (438 square miles).

Delaware on the map

6. First settled by the Dutch in 1631, Lewes is the first town in the first state.

7. Did you know that in 1638, near the mouth of the Delaware River, Swedish and Finnish people built the first log cabin in North America?

8. On December 7, 1787, DE became the first state to ratify the constitution of the United States. The state is also nicknamed the “First State”.

9. Dover played a pivotal role in shaping the US Constitution. Delegates from the 13 original colonies often met at the Golden Fleece Tavern to review the draft, eventually coming to an agreement on 7th December 1787. The tavern no longer stands, but there’s a commemorative marker on its original site.

10. According to legend, Thomas Jefferson called Delaware a “jewel” among states because of its strategic location along the East Coast.

facts about Delaware
Facts about Delaware. Photo © Joe Sohm

11. Henry Hudson, sailing under the Dutch flag, is credited with Delaware’s discovery in 1609.

12. Middletown, despite not having a navigable waterway itself, still traces its roots to water-borne trade. It started as a tavern stop located midway on an old cart road linking Bohemia Landing in Maryland to Appoquinimink Creek in Odessa – hence the name Middletown.

13. The Heimlich Maneuver, a popular method to reduce choking-related deaths, was created by Delawarean Henry Heimlich in 1975. Only a year later, the maneuver was recognised by the American heart society for its life-saving technique.

14. Seven of Delaware’s 74 governors to date — just under 10 percent — have come from Milford City. They include Ruth Ann Minner, who served as the first female governor of the state. Milford has also contributed to power elsewhere, being home to the largest solar-harnessing farm in DE.

15. In 1610, Delaware was named after the first governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr.

Broiler Chicken. Delaware fact files
Broiler Chicken.

16. Chickens have a long and revered history with Delawareans, with the chicken population currently outweighing the human population at a ratio of 200:1. The poultry and egg industry in Delaware currently accounts for 75% of the state’s overall agricultural production.

17. Did you know that Sussex County raises more broiler chicken than any other county in the United States? It is home to the headquarters of 3 of the Top 20 broiler-producing companies in the country.

18. The Delmarva Chicken Festival of 1950 made headlines for a rather unusual reason. Held in Maryland, festival goers witnessed a new world record as a 10-foot frying pan was brought out to fry 800 chicken quarters. The pan held 180 gallons of oil.

19. The Delaware State Fair attracts roughly 300,000 visitors each year, with a record 328,000 recorded in 2021. This was the centenary celebration of the state fair.

20. Interestingly, in 1776, the deciding vote for the American Independence was cast by Caesar Rodney who had to ride eighty miles to Philadelphia through rain and thunder.

Delaware on the US map
Delaware (in red) on the map with bordering states.

21. Did you know that after Rhode Island, Delaware it is the second smallest state in the United States? However, due to its small size, it is also the sixth most densely populated of the fifty states of the U.S.

22. Newark witnessed the first flying of the US flag in battle. This happened during the Revolutionary War when British and American forces engaged in the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge. Outnumbered 4-to-1, the Revolutionaries suffered defeat and retreated back to Wilmington. Still, the experience earned in course of the crash did come in handy later on.

23. Ebright Azimuth – 447.85 ft. above sea level near Ebright Road in New Castle County is the highest elevation in DE. The lowest point is the Sea level along the coast.

24. Delaware has the lowest mean elevation (450 feet) of any state. Colorado has the highest mean elevation (14,440 feet) of all the states.

25. Oliver Evans, a Delawarean inventor born in 1755, built America’s very first automobile in 1805. The car would also be the world’s first amphibious car.

26. Fisher’s Popcorn, one of Delaware’s proudest exports, was founded in 1937 and ships to hundreds of countries worldwide.

Bee on yellow goldenrod. facts about Delaware
Bee on yellow goldenrod. Facts about Delaware. Photo © Szymon Kaczmarczyk

27. The Sweet Goldenrod herb became Delaware’s state herb in 1996. It is also a great source of nutrition for the thriving bee population in the state.

28. Not just known for its bees, Delaware is also home to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly which was proclaimed as the state’s butterfly in 1999.

29. The ladybug has been Delaware’s state bug since 1974 when a Ms. Mollie Brown-Rust’s 2nd grade class lobbied for parliament and lawmakers to crown the humble ladybug their state bug. While it took them a full year, the class was successful, and had full approval from the lawmakers.

30. Delaware became the first state to have a state macroinvertebrate when they chose the stonefly to represent their state in 2005. Chosen for its need for excellent water sources, the stonefly is a symbol for the state’s high quality water.

31. Delaware is home to a shocking 86 endangered species, including the Red Knot bird and the Leatherback sea turtle. US law allows these animals to be protected and conserved.

32. Delaware is the third most bike-friendly state in the U.S.

A man on a bike.
A man on a bike.

33. Smyrna has about 490 houses that qualify for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of these are incredibly well-preserved; visit the Pope-Mustard Mansion and you can still catch a whiff of the Underground Railroad Era. Other interesting buildings include the mid 18th Century Allee House and Lindens.

34. Old Swedes Church, built between 1698 and 1699 still stands today in its hometown of Wilmington. It was built by descendents of the colonists from Sweden aboard the Kalmar Nyckel in 1638.

35. Nemours Estate is the only estate in Delaware that boasts Louis XVI styling. Built in 1910, the incredible home boasts 47,000 square feet of space, 105 rooms, and a 300-acre garden. The estate is open to the public for tours and underwent a $39 million restoration in 2010.

36. The majority (almost 91%) of the population of Del. age 5 years and older speak only English at home. Nearly 5% of the state’s population speaks Spanish.

37. Delaware has the ninth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut have the largest number of millionaires per capita respectively.

38. Delaware is also corporate heaven because of its business-friendly corporation laws. In fact, more than 50% of all the U.S. publicly traded companies and 66% of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. It is easier and cheaper for a company to incorporate in Delaware than in most other states, even if the company conducts most of its business outside of the state.

Annie Jump Cannon
Annie Jump Cannon 1922. Photo via Wikipedia.org

39. Did you know that Annie Jump Cannon, born in Dover, classified more than 225,000 stars? She classified stars according to their temperature. She was also the first woman to become an officer in the American Astronomical Society.

40. It is an interesting fact to note here that in DE there are more than a million registered corporations.

41. Pea Patch Island in Delaware was named when a ship carrying peas ran aground and lost its cargo, which sprouted new pea plants.

42. Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world.

43. Did you know that several ships have been named USS Delaware in honor of Delaware?

44. Delaware is one of the only five states without a sales tax. Other states that do not have a sales tax are Alaska, Oregon, Montana, and New Hampshire.

Aerial drone image of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
Aerial drone image of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

45. The Delaware Memorial Bridge that connects Del. with New Jersey is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

46. If you pay attention to the geography of the state, Delaware is 96 miles long and varies from 9 to 35 miles in width.

47. Did you know that the world’s first Nylon plant was located in Seaford, Delaware? Invented in 1937 by DuPont chemist Wallace Hume Carothers, this is where one of the world’s most famous fibre was first produced on a large scale. The town is also known as the “Nylon Capital of the World.”

48. Seaford city, along with all land in the current southern and western Sussex County were originally settled as part Maryland Province. A mapping error however shifted Delaware’s east-west boundary from Delmar to Fenwick. Courts ruled out reverting to the original lines, and Seaford officially became part of the Diamond State.

A horseshoe crab.
A horseshoe crab. Facts about Delaware. Image credit – Bill Benzon

49. DE has the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world. It is estimated that they (horseshoe crabs) predate the dinosaurs by more than 200 million years. The blood of these creatures is used by medical researchers to test intravenous drugs, vaccines, and medical devices.

50. Did you know that there is a county named “Delaware County” in Pennsylvania?

51. The state’s geographic center is in Kent County, 11 mi (18 km) S of Dover.

52. Did you know that at 28 mi (45 km) Delaware has the 22nd-longest coastline among all U.S. states? Alaska, Florida, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina, Oregon, Maine, and Massachusetts are the ten states with the longest coastline in the U.S., respectively.

53. Bees are an important part of the flora and fauna in Delaware. The state is home to no less than 7,200 bee colonies. The bee and honey industry in Delaware is worth a staggering $2.5 million. The bees are also responsible for many of the fruits and vegetables that make up the $30 million agricultural industry.

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