Delaware

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Delaware

Delaware is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes its name from the nearby Delaware River, in turn named after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia’s first colonial governor.

Toponymy

The state was named after the Delaware River, which in turn derived its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (1577–1618) who was the ruling governor of the Colony of Virginia at the time Europeans first explored the river. The Delaware people, a name used by Europeans for Lenape people indigenous to the Delaware Valley, also derive their name from the same source.

The name de La Warr is from Sussex and of Anglo-French origin. It came probably from a Norman lieu-dit La Guerre. This toponymic could derive from Latin ager, from the Breton gwern or from the Late Latin varectum (fallow). The toponyms Gara, Gare, Gaire (the sound [ä] often mutated in [æ]) also appear in old texts cited by Lucien Musset, where the word ga(i)ra means gore. It could also be linked with a patronymic from the Old Norse verr.

Geography

Delaware is 96 miles (154 km) long and ranges from 9 miles (14 km) to 35 miles (56 km) across, totaling 1,982 square miles (5,130 km2), making it the second-smallest state in the United States after Rhode Island. Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania; to the east by the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the eastern side of the Delaware River sharing land boundaries with New Jersey. The state of Delaware, together with the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and two counties of Virginia, form the Delmarva Peninsula, which stretches down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

The definition of the northern boundary of the state is unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania was originally defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19.3 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in the city of New Castle. This boundary is often referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. Although the Twelve-Mile Circle is often claimed to be the only territorial boundary in the U.S. that is a true arc, the Mexican boundary with Texas includes several arcs, and many cities in the South (such as Plains, Georgia) also have circular boundaries.

Climate

Connecticut has 4 well defined seasons, though major changes in temperature from day to day are common. Early spring can range from slightly cool (40s to low 50s F) to warm (65 to 70 F), while mid and late spring (late April/May) is warm. By late May, the building Bermuda High creates a southerly flow of warm and humid tropical air, bringing hot weather conditions throughout the state. Average highs are 81 °F (27 °C) in New London and 85 °F (29 °C) in Windsor Locks at the peak of summer in late July. On occasion, heat waves with highs from 90 to 100 °F (38 °C) occur across Connecticut. Connecticut’s record high temperature is 106 °F (41 °C) which occurred in Danbury on July 15, 1995. Although summers are sunny in Connecticut, quick moving summer thunderstorms can bring brief downpours with thunder and lightning.

Climate

Delaware Köppen climate classification is humid subtropical. Since almost all of Delaware is a part of the Atlantic coastal plain, the effects of the ocean moderate its climate. The state lies in the humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) zone. Despite its small size (roughly 100 miles (160 km) from its northernmost to southernmost points), there is significant variation in mean temperature and amount of snowfall between Sussex County and New Castle County. Moderated by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, the southern portion of the state has a milder climate and a longer growing season than the northern portion of the state. Delaware’s all-time record high of 110 °F (43 °C) was recorded at Millsboro on July 21, 1930. The all-time record low of −17 °F (−27 °C) was also recorded at Millsboro, on January 17, 1893. The hardiness zones are 6b, 7a and 7b.

Municipalities

Wilmington is the state’s most populous city (70,635) and its economic hub. It is located within commuting distance of both Philadelphia and Baltimore. Dover is the state capital and the second most populous city (38,079).

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau determined that the population of Delaware was 989,948 on April 1, 2020, an increase since the 2010 United States census at 897,934. Delaware is the sixth most densely populated state, with a population density of 442.6 people per square mile, 356.4 per square mile more than the national average, and ranking 45th in population. Delaware is one of five U.S. states (Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming) that do not have a single city with a population over 100,000 as of the 2010 census. The center of population of Delaware is in New Castle County, in the town of Townsend. As of 2011, 49.7% of Delaware’s population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry).

Languages

As of 2000, 91% of Delaware residents of age 5 and older spoke only English at home; 5% spoke Spanish. French was the third-most spoken language at 0.7%, followed by Chinese at 0.5% and German at 0.5%. Legislation had been proposed in both the House and the Senate in Delaware to designate English as the official language. Neither bill was passed in the legislature.

Religion

As of 2014, Delaware is mostly Christian. Although Protestants account for almost half of the population, the Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the state. The Association of Religion Data Archives reported in 2010 that the three largest denominational groups in Delaware by number of adherents are the Catholic Church at 182,532 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 53,656 members reported, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 22,973 adherents reported.

The religious body with the largest number of congregations is the United Methodist Church (with 158 congregations) followed by non-denominational Evangelical Protestant (with 106 congregations), then the Catholic Church (with 45 congregations). A 2012 survey of religious attitudes in the United States found that 34% of Delaware residents considered themselves "moderately religious", 33% "very religious", and 33% as "non-religious". At the 2014 Pew Research survey, 23% of the population were irreligious.

Tourism

Rehoboth Beach is a popular vacation spot during the summer months. Delaware is home to First State National Historical Park, a National Park Service unit composed of historic sites across the state including the New Castle Court House, Green, and Sheriff’s House, Dover Green, Beaver Valley, Fort Christina, Old Swedes’ Church, John Dickinson Plantation, and the Ryves Holt House. Delaware has several museums, wildlife refuges, parks, houses, lighthouses, and other historic places.

Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprise Delaware’s beach resorts. Rehoboth Beach often bills itself as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” because it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C., residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and in lesser numbers, Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town’s charm, artistic appeal, nightlife, and tax-free shopping. According to SeaGrant Delaware, the Delaware beaches generate $6.9 billion annually and over $711 million in tax revenue.

Education

In the early 1920s, Pierre S. du Pont served as president of the state board of education. At the time, state law prohibited money raised from white taxpayers from being used to support the state’s schools for black children. Appalled by the condition of the black schools, du Pont donated four million dollars to construct 86 new school buildings.

Delaware was the origin of Belton v. Gebhart (1952), one of the four cases which were combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States decision that led to the end of officially segregated public schools. Significantly, Belton was the only case in which the state court found for the plaintiffs, thereby ruling that segregation is unconstitutional.

Transportation

Delaware’s license plate design, introduced in 1959, is the longest-running one in U.S. history. The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as “DelDOT”. Funding for DelDOT projects is drawn, in part, from the Delaware Transportation Trust Fund, established in 1987 to help stabilize transportation funding; the availability of the Trust led to a gradual separation of DelDOT operations from other Delaware state operations. 

DelDOT manages programs such as a Delaware Adopt-a-Highway program, major road route snow removal, traffic control infrastructure (signs and signals), toll road management, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, the Delaware Transit Corporation (branded as “DART First State”, the state government public transportation organization), among others. In 2009, DelDOT maintained 13,507 lane-miles, totaling 89 percent of the state’s public roadway system, the rest being under the supervision of individual municipalities. This far exceeds the national average (20 percent) for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility.

Roads

One major branch of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 (I-95), crosses Delaware southwest-to-northeast across New Castle County. Two Auxiliary Interstate Highway routes are also located in the state. Interstate 495 (I-495) is an eastern bypass of Wilmington. Interstate 295 (I-295) is a bypass of Philadelphia which begins south of Wilmington. In addition to Interstate highways, there are six U.S. highways that serve Delaware: U.S. 9, U.S. 13, U.S. 40, U.S. 113, U.S. 202, and U.S. 301. There are also several state highways that cross the state of Delaware; a few of them include DE 1, DE 9, and DE 404. U.S. 13 and DE 1 are primary north–south highways connecting Wilmington and Pennsylvania with Maryland, with DE 1 serving as the main route between Wilmington and the Delaware beaches. DE 9 is a north–south highway connecting Dover and Wilmington via a scenic route along the Delaware Bay.

U.S. 40 is a primary east–west route, connecting Maryland with New Jersey. DE 404 is another primary east–west highway connecting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland with the Delaware beaches. The state also operates three toll highways, the Delaware Turnpike, which is I-95, between Maryland and New Castle; the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, which is DE 1, between Wilmington and Dover; and the U.S. 301 toll road between the Maryland border and DE 1 in New Castle County.

Ferries

Three ferries operate in the state of Delaware

• Cape May–Lewes Ferry crosses the mouth of Delaware Bay between Lewes, Delaware, and Cape May, New Jersey.
• Woodland Ferry (a cable ferry) crosses the Nanticoke River southwest of Seaford.
• Forts Ferry Crossing connects Delaware City with Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, New Jersey.

Rail and Bus

Amtrak has two stations in Delaware along the Northeast Corridor; the relatively quiet Newark Rail Station in Newark, and the busier Wilmington Rail Station in Wilmington. The Northeast Corridor is also served by SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line of Regional Rail, which serves Claymont, Wilmington, Churchmans Crossing, and Newark.

Two Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX, provide freight rail service in northern New Castle County. Norfolk Southern provides freight service along the Northeast Corridor and to industrial areas in Edgemoor, New Castle, and Delaware City. CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision passes through northern New Castle County parallel to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Multiple short-line railroads provide freight service in Delaware. The Delmarva Central Railroad operates the most trackage of the short-line railroads, running from an interchange with Norfolk Southern in Porter south through Dover, Harrington, and Seaford to Delmar, with another line running from Harrington to Frankford and branches from Ellendale to Milton and from Georgetown to Gravel Hill.

The Delmarva Central Railroad connects with the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, which serves local customers in Sussex County. CSX connects with the freight/heritage operation, the Wilmington and Western Railroad, based in Wilmington and the East Penn Railroad, which operates a line from Wilmington to Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Air

As of 2016, there is no scheduled air service from any Delaware airport, as has been the case in various years since 1991. Various airlines had served Wilmington Airport, the latest departure being Frontier Airlines in April 2015.

Delaware is centrally situated in the Northeast megalopolis region of cities along I-95. Therefore, Delaware commercial airline passengers most frequently use Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) for domestic and international transit.

Residents of Sussex County will also use Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY), as it is located less than 10 miles (16 km) from the Delaware border. Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) are also within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of New Castle County.

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