Delaware was named after the first governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. The name was first applied to the Delaware River. The region was part of the land the Duke of York gave William Penn.
Delaware is called the "Diamond State." This is probably because John Lofland wrote, "Delaware is like a diamond, diminutive, but having within it inherent value." The state is also known as the "Blue Hen State" because people compared the fighting spirit of the Delaware First Regiment during the American Revolution with the spirit of the blue hen, their mascot. The blue hen is the state bird. The abbreviation for Delaware is DE.
Delaware is a Mid-Atlantic state bordered by Pennsylvania to the north; Maryland to the west and south; and the Delaware Bay, the Delaware River, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is the second smallest state; only Rhode Island is smaller. Delaware is known as the "First State" because, on December 7, 1787, it became the first state to ratify the Constitution.
Delaware's landscape is mostly a low, flat coastal plain with rich soil. The state shares the Delmarva Peninsula with regions of Maryland and Virginia. The northern most region of the state is part of the Piedmont Plateau. Short, swift streams flow to lower levels from the plateau, which is made up of rolling hills and valleys.
Delaware is divided into 3 counties; they are New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. Historically New Castle County has been industrialized, while the other two counties have been agricultural. Over two-thirds of the state's population live in and around Wilmington, the state's only large city. Wilmington has become a manufacturing center and seaport because of plentiful waterpower and easy access to the Delaware River. The city is Delaware's financial and commercial center and a leading banking center. Leathermaking has been an important industry since 1732.
About 200,000 companies are incorporated in Delaware because of its business laws, which favor corporations. These companies include many of the largest businesses in the country. It is easier and cheaper to incorporate in Delaware than in most other states, even for those companies that conduct most of their business outside of the state.
Delaware's economy is dominated by the Du Pont Chemical Company, one of the world's largest chemical companies. The company was founded by Eleuthere Irenee du Pont de Nemours in Wilmington in 1802. The du Pont family has been important in the state's economic development, politics, and social life.
Delaware is also an important agricultural state because it is close to the large eastern United States markets. The state has good transportation facilities. It is connected to Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. by canals, highways, and railroads. Fruits and vegetables are grown in the state's good climate and sandy soil. The state also produces poultry. Broilers, which are chickens between 5 and 12 weeks old, are Delaware's leading cash farm product. The broiler industry has made Sussex County one of the richest farming areas in the country.
People visit Delaware for different reasons. They can dance to 18th century music at "Old Dover Days" in Dover, the state's capital or walk through over 100 rooms at Henry du Pont's former home, now called Winterthur Museum and Gardens. And for summer fun, they can swim in the Atlantic Ocean at Rehoboth Beach, the state's largest shore resort.