Delaware, one of the mid-Atlantic states of the United States; bordered by Maryland in the west and south, Pennsylvania in the north, and the Delaware Bay in the east.
Land and climate
Delaware is located on the Delmarva Peninsula, along with parts of Maryland and Virginia. Almost all of the state is part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, which stretches from New Jersey to southern Florida. Delaware's mean elevation above sea level is the lowest of all the 50 states. The land rises gradually to the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau, which crosses the northern tip of the state. The most important river is the Delaware. Delaware's climate is temperate but humid. Wilmington is the only major city.
The most important economic activity in Delaware is manufacturing. Chemical production is the major industry. Wilmington is the headquarters of one of the largest chemical companies in the world, E. J. DuPont de Nemours & Company. Since corporation taxes are unusually low in Delaware, about 200,000 companies—including many whose business is done elsewhere—have incorporated in the state. Broiler chickens account for more than half of the state's farm income. Soybeans and corn are the 2 leading cash crops.
The state constitution was adopted in 1897. The governor is elected for a 4-year term. The state legislature, also called the general assembly, consists of a senate of 21 members, elected for 4-year terms, and a house of representatives, whose 41 members serve for 2 years. Delaware is the only state in which the legislature can amend the state constitution without voter approval. Delaware sends 2 senators and 1 representative to the U.S. Congress.
Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the service of the Dutch, explored Delaware Bay in 1609. Swedish settlers founded New Sweden, the first permanent white settlement in the region, in 1638. After years of dispute, England took possession of the area in 1674. Delaware was ruled as a part of the colony of Pennsylvania from 1682 until the American Revolution (1775–83), although it was granted its own legislature in 1704. Delaware was 1 of the 13 colonies to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1802 E. I. DuPont established his gunpowder mills on the Brandy wine Creek near Wilmington, laying the foundations of the state's great chemical industry. Until the Civil War (1861–65) Delaware was a slave state, although anti-slavery sentiment was widespread in the industrial north. Large numbers of soldiers fought with the North to preserve the Union, but not to free the slaves. The state prospered during both world wars. In the 1970s Delaware's rapid economic growth slowed, but the economy improved after 1980 with the adoption of a constitutional limit on the state government's spending.