80 Fun & Interesting Facts About Delaware, USA

Little Delaware state is famous for its beaches, tax-free shopping, and the fact that it has more companies than people.

Find out what else the “First State” is known for with these fascinating Delaware facts!

General Delaware Facts

  • Delaware is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
  • It is roughly at the north-to-south midpoint of the contiguous United States (the continental US, not counting Alaska). It is 68 mi (110 km) east of Washington D.C., the nation’s capital.
  • The state borders Maryland to the west, Pennsylvania to the north, New Jersey to the east, and the Delaware Bay & Atlantic Ocean to the east.
  • Together with two counties of Virginia and the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, Delaware forms part of the Delmarva Peninsula.
  • Delaware is only 1,982 mi² (5,130 km²), making it the nation’s 2nd smallest state, larger than Rhode Island, but less than half the size of Connecticut.
  • Delaware could fit into Alaska 335.7 times.
  • If it were a country, Delaware would be larger than 30 others. It is exactly the same size as Trinidad and Tobago.
  • At its thinnest point, Delaware is 9 miles (14 km) across.
The Delaware Legislative Hall lit up at night in the background, with traces of car lights going by in the foreground
Delaware Legislative Hall in Dover
  • Delaware only has three counties – New Castle, Kent and Sussex – fewer than any other state.
  • Delaware has a population of 1 million, which makes it the 6th least populous state, sitting between Montana and South Dakota in terms of population.
  • Because it is so small, though, it has the 6th highest population density, between Maryland and New York state.
  • Dover is the capital city of Delaware. It has a population of 39,400 (metropolitan 152,000).
  • The state’s largest city is Wilmington, with a population of 71,000. It is essentially a part of Greater Philadelphia, also called the Delaware Valley metropolitan area (population 6.2 million).  
View of downtown Wilmington across the Delaware River
Wilmington on the Delaware River is the largest city in Delaware
  • Residents of Delaware are known as Delawareans.
  • The state was named after the first governor of Virginia- Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. The Lenape native people are also sometimes called the Delaware.
  • DE is the state’s abbreviation.
  • Delaware is nicknamed “The First State” because it was literally the first US state. It was the first of the US states to ratify the constitution.
  • Other nicknames for Delaware are “The Diamond State” (not because it produces diamonds, but because Jefferson thought it was a jewel among states for its location) and “The Blue Hen State”, after its official bird.
  • Delaware tourism slogans have included “Endless Discoveries” and “Small Wonder”.
The state flag of Delaware
The Delaware state flag
  • The Delaware state flag has a colonial blue background and buff colored diamond (the two state colors and the colors of George Washington’s uniform) with the coat of arms in it. “December 7, 1787” is written below the diamond, the date the state ratified the US Constitution and became the nation’s first state.
  • The Delaware coat of arms has a ship representing commerce, a farmer, wheat, corn, and ox representing agriculture, and a Revolutionary War soldier. “Liberty and Independence”, the official state motto, appears below.
  • Delaware’s official state bug is the ladybug.

Random Interesting Facts About Delaware 

  • In the 1992 comedy film Wayne’s World, Wayne and Garth portray Delaware as the dud among states. In fact, the state has repeatedly been described as the most boring one in the US.
  • Some reasons it might be called boring: there are no major cities, sports teams, mountains, or lakes in Delaware, the climate is mild, and there are few natural disasters.
An empty boardwalk on the water with a view of Wilmington, Delaware
Delaware isn’t considered the most exciting place.
  • 67.8% of all Fortune 500 companies and more than half of all publicly traded companies in the US were incorporated in Delaware. Mainly this is because of Delaware’s flexible corporate laws and lack of state corporate tax. However, many of them have their headquarters elsewhere.
  • Companies that incorporated in Delaware include Coca Cola, GE, Apple, Google, Ford, and many more.
  • The state has more corporations than people, with more than a million registered corporations in Delaware.
  • Delaware is one of five states that doesn’t have sales tax. Neighboring states have even dubbed Delaware the “Home of Tax Free Shopping”.
  • Despite its “boring” status, Delaware attracts over 9 million tourists per year, accounting for $3.5 billion in revenue.
Row of resorts along the beach in Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach
  • Rehoboth Beach, famous for Funland amusement park and its boardwalk reminiscent of the more famous one in Atlantic City, has been dubbed as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” due to the large influx of tourists from Washington D.C. ever summer. Other popular beaches in Delaware include Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach.
  • Delaware has 17 state parks, the lowest number of any state. Even the smaller Rhode Island has 22. There are no national parks or UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Delaware.
  • However, Delaware’s state park system was named best in the country in 2015, beating out regular winners like Georgia and Missouri.
  • The largest and most visited state park in Delaware is Cape Henlopen State Park on the Atlantic Coast. It was one of the first spaces to be declared public in the United States.
  • The are 14 National Historic Landmarks in Delaware, a list that includes a lightship, high school, Fort Christina (the original Swedish fort), gunpowder mill, and New Castle (the original capital of Delaware).
Close up of a horseshoe crab on a sandy beach
Delaware is known for its abundance of horseshoe crabs.
  • Delaware has the largest concentration of horseshoe crabs in the world. In May and June, thousands of them come ashore to spawn.
  • The state’s hottest temperature to ever be recorded was 110°F (43.3°C) on July 21, 1930 in Millsboro. The coldest was -17°F (-27.2°C) on January 17, 1893 in Millsboro.
  • Delaware is the nation’s lowest state, with an average altitude of 60 ft (18.3 m) above sea level.
  • The state’s highest point is found at Ebright Azimuth, which is 447.85 ft (136.5 m) above sea level.
  • The town of Milton, Delaware was named after John Milton, born in London and one of the most highly regarded poets in English history.
A road through a flat landscape in Delaware, USA
Delaware is the nation’s lowest state.
  • Actor Ryan Phillippe and actress Elisabeth Shue were born in Delaware.
  • Musicians Stephen Marley (son of Bob Marley) and George Thorogood (the “Bad to the Bone” guy) were also born in Delaware.
  • Movies filmed partially or fully in Delaware include Clean and Sober, Beloved, Violets are Blue, Days of Thunder, and Dead Poets Society.
  • There’s a Delaware city in Ohio – don’t confuse it with Delaware state or Delaware City in Delaware. Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, was born there. No US presidents have been born in Delaware state.
  • Joe Biden, the 46th president of the US, wasn’t born in Delaware, but he was based there as Senator for several decades.
  • More than 225,000 stars have been classified by Annie Jump Cannon of Dover, Delaware. She classified stars according to their temperature.
A mosaic of famous people from Delaware
Famous people born in or associated with Denver: Joe Biden, Stephen Marley, Elisabeth Shue, George Thorogood, and Ryan Phillippe (clockwise from left)
  • The automatic flour-milling machine was invented by Oliver Evans of Newport, Delaware in 1785. His invention revolutionized the industry.
  • Henry Heimlich, born in Delaware, has been credited for saving thousands of lives by inventing the Heimlich Maneuver, a way to stop people from choking.
  • A food commonly associated with Delaware is scrapple, a mixture of pork scraps congealed into a loaf. It is often referred to as “everything but the oink”.
  • Another popular dish in Delaware is goulash, a dish or stewed meat and vegetables originating in Hungary, but with macaroni added.  
  • Yet another is slippery dumplings, which come in chicken gravy, while apple cider doughnuts are a popular dessert.
A plate with scrapple, potatoes, and eggs
Scrapple is a common local dish in Delaware
  • It’s technically prohibited by law to race horses on Good Friday or Easter Sunday in Delaware.
  • It’s against the law for Delawarean pawnbrokers to accept wooden legs or any other form of artificial limbs. Even wheelchairs can’t be accepted.
  • It’s also illegal to change into or out of your swimsuit in your car or in a public restroom.
  • One of the weirdest laws in Delaware must be this: it’s against the law to pretend to be asleep on a bench on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk.
  • By law, you can legally get your marriage annulled if you got married on a dare.

Historical Facts About Delaware 

  • Humans first arrived in Delaware at least 11,500 years ago. An archeological site near Hockessin, Delaware is one of the oldest in northeastern North America.
  • In the 1400s, the Native American Lenni Lenape tribe settled along the Delaware River, which flows past Philadelphia and Wilmington into Delaware Bay.
An empty beach on Delaware Bay
An empty beach on Delaware Bay
  • The villages of the Lenni Lenape were under attack by the Minquas, who came from the Susquehanna River Valley in 1600.
  • In 1609, Delaware Bay and River were discovered by an English sailor who was sailing for the Dutch East India Company, Henry Hudson. Hudson Bay in Canada is named after him.
  • Dutch colonists settled at the site of present-day Lewes in 1631, which they called Zwaanendael. The local Native Americans wiped them out within a year.
  • Fort Christina, the first Swedish settlement in North America, was founded in 1638, at what is now Wilmington, the largest city in Delaware.
  • The first African American in Delaware was Black Anthony. He was brought to Fort Christina from the Caribbean in 1639.
  • The Dutch built a fort near New Castle in 1651.
An old courthouse building with flags flying in front of it in New Castle, the original capital of Delaware
New Castle Court House, which served as the first Capitol building of Delaware
  • The New Sweden Colony was ended after the Dutch defeated the Swedes in 1655. Delaware became part of New Netherland and regained control of the region in 1673, but the English took over in 1674.
  • Delaware formally separated from Pennsylvania in 1701, but the two colonies still had the same governon until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1776.
  • The city of Dover was established in 1717. At the time, New Castle was still the colony’s capital.
  • Delaware declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. The state established its own separate government from that of Pennsylvania. A year later, the capital was moved to Dover.
  • On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the nation’s first state when it ratified the Constitution before any other state.
Exterior of the Delaware State Capitol building at night
Delaware state capitol in Dover
  • In 1795, Delaware’s first bank was founded in Wilmington: the Bank of Delaware.
  • DuPont, one of Delaware’s most famous companies, was started as a gunpowder mill in 1802.
  • The oldest African American church in the country, Union Church of Africans (now A.U.M.P. Church) was founded in Delaware in 1813.
  • The state’s Senate considered the abolishment of slavery in 1847. The act was defeated by one vote.
  • President Lincoln’s 1862 offer to buy the state’s slaves was rejected by Delaware legislature.
  • Construction of Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island in Delaware River across from Delaware City was completed in 1868. It was built to house prisoners during the Civil War.
A stone fort called Fort Delaware with a moat of water around it
Fort Delaware
  • The first phone line in Delaware was installed in Wilmington in 1878. Streetlights followed in 1882.
  • In 1905, Delaware became the last state to abolish the use of the pillory (a wooden plank with holes for the head and hands).
  • The eastbound section of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the only traffic link between New Jersey, opened in 1951. The westbound part of the twin bridge didn’t open until 1968.
  • Racial segregation in public accommodations was outlawed by the Delaware General Assembly in 1963.
  • In 1978, Daniel Nathan of Delaware won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work with molecular hormones.
Aerial view of Delaware Memorial Bridge across Delaware River
The twin Delaware Memorial Bridge
  • Football betting was legalized in Delaware in 2009.
  • In 2020, Sarah McBride won her election for the first Delaware State Senate district, becoming the highest-ranking transgender official in the nation’s history.