Known as the First State, the small yet densely populated Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787. Delaware, which hugs the Atlantic coast, runs only 96 miles long and 39 miles wide and has just three counties: New Castle, Kent and Sussex.
The state holds a prime location on the Eastern Seaboard, with Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in close proximity. More than 950,000 people call Delaware home, and that number is expected to rise to more than 1 million by 2025.
Despite the fact that only about 9 percent of Delaware's residents were born outside the U.S., the state is more diverse than most. About 63 percent are white and 21 percent are black. Four percent are Asian and 9 percent are Hispanic of any race. Just over half of adults in the state are considered highly religious by Pew Research Center.
The state's 2016 median household income of $61,757 was slightly higher than the country's, and the poverty rate was lower. Because Delaware's economy relies heavily on chemical manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and plastics, it is sometimes referred to as the Chemical Capital of the World. DuPont, one of the world’s top chemical manufacturing companies, is based in and operates in Delaware. But the state’s largest economic driver is finance and insurance, and it attracts top companies with its pro-business model, including low tax incentives and favorable laws for corporations.
The agricultural industry is also a major player in the economic picture, with 2,500 farms – constituting 39 percent of the state's land – whose products generate nearly $8 billion each year. Delaware is one of the nation’s leading producers of broiler chickens and lima beans.
The state's population and commerce are concentrated in the north around Wilmington, the largest city with slightly more than 71,000 people. The East Coast's major highways and rail lines pass through this hub. The rest of the state holds the northeastern corner of the Delmarva peninsula, which the state shares with Maryland and Virginia. The capital is Dover.
Delaware may be the second-smallest state, but it attracts millions of visitors each year. Rehoboth Beach is a popular summer attraction, with a population of more than 25,000 each summer. The 1-square-mile city became a well-known vacation spot for the Washington elite in the 1920s, and today it’s known for its large LGBT community and family-friendly attractions.
Politically, Delaware leans Democratic and has participated in all 58 U.S. presidential elections. It has given its three electoral votes to the Democratic candidate in every election since 1992. Joe Biden, a former vice president and longtime senator, is a Wilmington resident, and he commuted home from Washington by train regularly to the Amtrak station that now bears his name.
Almost nine in 10 Delawareans had graduated from high school, and just under one in three had earned at least a bachelor's degree as of 2016. Delaware does not offer many four-year colleges, but they include University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Wesley College.
The University of Delaware’s athletic name, the “Fightin’ Blue Hens,” originates from the state’s involvement in the Revolutionary War. Capt. Jonathan Caldwell was in charge of a Kent County company that owned gamecocks that his troops staged in cockfights as a form of amusement. The chickens, a breed deemed the Kent County Blue Hen, were known for their fighting abilities.