State of Delaware - DE

Delaware is one of five Middle Atlantic States in the United States of America.[1] Delaware was one of the original Thirteen Colonies and is known as the "First State" as it was the first to ratify the United States Constitution. The name Delaware comes from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, after whom the Delaware Bay was named.

Delaware is the second-smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island being the smallest.

Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania, to the east by the Delaware River, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the far, or eastern, side of the Delaware River Estuary, and these small parcels share 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, a geographical unit stretching far down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

The definition of the northern boundary of the state is highly unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania is defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in New Castle, and is referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. This is the only true-arc political boundary in the United States (excluding those boundaries defined by latitude, such as the US border with Canada, the border between Oregon and California, etc, which are all arcs with the geographic North Pole as its center.) This border extends all of the way to the low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, which continues down the shoreline until it again reaches the twelve-mile arc in the south; then the boundary continues in a more conventional way in the middle of the main channel (thalweg) of the Delaware River Estuary. A portion of this arc extends into Maryland to the west, and the remaining western border is a tangent to this arc that runs a bit to the east. The Wedge of land between the arc and the Maryland border remained in dispute until 1921, when Delaware's claim was confirmed.

Twelve-Mile Circle, The Wedge, Mason-Dixon line, Transpeninsular Line

Delaware is on a level plain, the highest elevation not even rising 450 feet above sea level. The northern part is associated with the Appalachian Piedmont and is full of hills with rolling surfaces. South of Newark and Wilmington, the state follows the Atlantic Coastal Plain with flat, sandy, and, in some parts, swampy ground. A ridge about 75 to 80 feet in altitude extends along the western boundary of the state and is the drainage divide between the two major water bodies of the Delaware River and several streams falling into Chesapeake Bay in the west.

Since the majority of Delaware is a part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the climate is moderated by the effects of the ocean.The state is somewhat of a transistional zone between a humid subtropical climate and a continental climate. Despite its small size (roughly 100 miles from its northernmost to southernmost points), there is significant variation in mean temperature and amount of snowfall between Sussex County and New Castle County. The southern portion of the State has a somewhat milder climate and a longer growing season than the northern portion of the State. Furthermore, the transitional climate of Delaware supports a surprising variety of vegetation. At Trap Pond State Park in Sussex County, bald cypress grow--this is thought to be one of the northernmost stands of these trees. The vegetation in New Castle County, on the other hand, is more typical of that of the northeastern United States. All parts of Delaware have relatively hot, humid summers. While Sussex and Kent Counties are considered to fall in the humid subtropical climate zone, there is some debate about whether northern New Castle County falls in the humid subtropical climate zone or warm continental climate zone. See also: List of counties in Delaware

Main article: History of Delaware

Native Americans
Before Delaware was settled by Europeans, the area was home to the Eastern Algonquian tribes known as the Unami Lenape or Delaware throughout the Delaware valley, and the Nanticoke along the rivers leading into the Chesapeake Bay. The Unami Lenape in the Delaware valley were closely related to Munsee Lenape tribes along the Hudson River. They had a settled hunting and agricultural society, and they rapidly became middlemen in an increasingly frantic fur trade with their ancient enemy, the Minqua or Susquehannock. With the loss of their lands on the Delaware River and the destruction of the Minqua by the Iroquois of the Five Nations in the 1670's, the remnants of the Lenape left the region and moved over the Alleghany Mountains by the mid-18th century.

Colonial Delaware
The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in present day Delaware by establishing a trading post at Zwaanendael, near the site of Lewes in 1631. Within a year all the settlers were killed in a dispute with Native Americans. In 1638 a Swedish trading post and colony was established at Fort Christina (now in Wilmington) by the Dutchman Peter Minuit at the head of a group of Swedes, Finns and Dutch. Thirteen years later the Dutch, reinvigorated by the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, established a new fort in 1651 at present day New Castle, and in 1655 they took over the entire Swedish colony, incorporating it into the Dutch New Netherlands.

Only nine years later, in 1664, the Dutch were themselves forcibly removed by a British expedition under the direction of James, the Duke of York. Fighting off a prior claim by Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland, the Duke passed his somewhat dubious ownership on to William Penn in 1682. Penn badly wanted an outlet to the sea for his Pennsylvania province and leased what were now known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" from the Duke.

Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682. However, by 1704 the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so much, their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle. Penn and his heirs remained the Proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties.

American Revolution
Like the other middle colonies, the Lower Counties on the Delaware initially lacked much enthusiasm for a break with Britain. They had a good relationship with the Proprietary government, and generally were allowed more independence of action in their Colonial Assembly than other colonies. Nevertheless, there was strong objection to the seemingly arbitrary measures of Parliament, and it was well understood that the territory's very existence as a separate entity depended upon its keeping step with its powerful neighbors, especially Pennsylvania.

So it was that New Castle lawyer Thomas McKean denounced the Stamp Act in the strongest terms, and Kent County native John Dickinson, became the "Penman of the Revolution." Anticipating the Declaration of Independence, Patriot leaders Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney convinced the Colonial Assembly to declare itself separated from British and Pennsylvania rule on June 15, 1776, but the person best representing Delaware's majority, George Read, could not bring himself to vote for a Declaration of Independence. Only the dramatic overnight ride of Caesar Rodney gave the delegation the votes needed to cast Delaware's vote for Independence. Once the Declaration was adopted, however, Read signed the document.

Initially led by John Haslet, Delaware provided one of the premier regiments in the Continental Army, known as the "Delaware Blues" and nicknamed the "Blue Hen Chickens." In August 1777 General Sir William Howe led a British army through Delaware on his way to a victory at the Battle of Brandywine and capture of the city of Philadelphia. The only real engagement on Delaware soil was fought on September 3, 1777, at Cooch's Bridge in New Castle County. It is believed to be the first time that the Stars and Stripes was flown in battle.

Following the Battle of Brandywine, Wilmington was occupied by the British, and State President John McKinly was taken prisoner. The British remained in control of the Delaware River for much of the rest of the war, disrupting commerce and providing encouragement to an active Loyalist portion of the population, particularly in Sussex County. Only the repeated military activities of State President Caesar Rodney were able to control them.

Following the American Revolution, statesmen from Delaware were among the leading proponents of a strong central United States government with equal representation for each state. Once the Connecticut Compromise was reached—creating a U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives—the leaders in Delaware were able to easily secure ratification of the U.S. Constitution on December 7, 1787, making Delaware the first state to do so.

Slavery and Race
Many colonial settlers came from Maryland and Virginia which had been experiencing a population boom. The economies of these colonies were largely based on tobacco and were increasingly dependent on slave labor. At the end of the colonial period, slavery in Delaware began a precipitous decline. Shifts in the agriculture economy, the efforts of local Methodists and Quakers, and greater governmental regulation were all factors. Attempts to abolish slavery failed by narrow margins. By the 1860 census there were only about 1,800 slaves in a state of 90,000 people, including nearly 20,000 free African Americans. When he freed his slaves in 1777, John Dickinson was Delaware's largest slave owner with 37 slaves. By 1860 the largest owner has 16 slaves.

The oldest black church in the country was chartered in Delaware by former slave Peter Spencer in 1813 as the "Union Church of Africans," which is now the A.U.M.P. Church. The Big August Quarterly began in 1814 and is the oldest such cultural festival in the country.

During the American Civil War, Delaware was a slave state that remained in the Union (Delaware voted not to secede on January 3, 1861). Delaware had been the first state to embrace the Union by ratifying the constitution and would be the last to leave it, according to Delaware's governor at the time. While most Delaware citizens who fought in the war served in the regiments of the state, some served in companies on the Confederate side in Maryland and Virginia Regiments. Delaware is notable for being the only slave state not to assemble Confederate regiments or militia groups on its own.

Two months before the end of the Civil War, however, Delaware voted on February 18, 1865 to reject the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The issue was north-versus-south inside the state, with the strong Quaker anti-slavery presence in the northern parts. The 1000 or so slaveowners in the southern parts were making a political statement. Slavery ended in Delaware only when the Thirteenth Amendment took effect in December of 1865. When the 15th Amendment gave all blacks the right to vote, the legislature in 1873 passed a poll tax (for everyone) designed to minimize the vote of blacks and poor whites. Delaware quickly adopted other Jim Crow legislation and eventually set up a dual school system topped by the black college Delaware State. From the 1870s to the 1950s, Delaware organized its politics, its legal system, its economy, and its culture on the Southern idea of segregation and the legal principal of separate but equal. The segregated school system was integrated in the mid 1950s.

Delaware Population Density Map

Demographics of Delaware (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 77.65% 20.28% 0.79% 2.43% 0.09%
2000 (hispanic only) 4.10% 0.59% 0.12% 0.04% 0.02%
2005 (total population) 76.01% 21.51% 0.79% 3.01% 0.09%
2005 (hispanic only) 5.39% 0.58% 0.14% 0.04% 0.02%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 5.37% 14.20% 7.91% 33.58% 12.73%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 3.36% 14.46% 4.94% 34.00% 15.17%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 41.33% 5.47% 24.81% 8.81% 2.86%

The five largest ancestries in Delaware are: African American (19.2%), Irish (16.6%), German (14.3%), English (12.1%), Italian (9.3%). Delaware has the highest proportion of African American residents of any state north of Maryland, and had the largest population of free blacks (17%) prior to the Civil War.

As of 2000, 90.5% of Delaware residents age 5 and older speak only English at home; 4.7% speak Spanish. French is the third most spoken language at 0.7%, followed by Chinese at 0.5% and German at 0.5%.

In 2006, legislation was proposed in Delaware that would designate English as the official language.[2][3]

The religious affiliations of the people of Delaware are:

Christian – 79%
Protestant – 68%
Methodist – 22%
Baptist – 21%
Lutheran – 4%
Presbyterian – 3%
Pentecostal – 3%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 15%
Roman Catholic – 10%
Other Christian – 1%
Other Religions – 2%
Non-Religious – 19%
Delaware is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. The A.U.M.P. Church, the oldest African-American denomination in the nation, was founded in Wilmington and still has a very substantial presence in the state. Delaware also hosts an Islamic mosque in the Ogletown area, as well as a Hindu temple in Hockessin.

Delaware is home to approximately 20,000 Jews, who are served by the Jewish Community Center in Brandywine (outside of Wilmington) and by a number of educational, social and cultural agencies supported by the Jewish Federation of Delaware. Synagogues include Congregation Beth Emeth (Reform) in Wilmington, Congregation Beth El (Reconstructionist) in Newark, and Congregation Beth Shalom (Conservative) in Wilmington, Congregation Beth Sholom (Conservative) in Dover, and Adas Kodesh Shel Emeth (Orthodox) in Wilmington. There is also a Lubavitcher community center and synagogue in Brandywine.

"Picking Peaches in Delaware" from an 1878 issue of Harper's WeeklyThe gross state product of Delaware in 2003 was $49 billion. The per capita personal income was $34,199, ranking 9th in the nation. In 2005, the average weekly wage was $937, ranking 7th in the nation.[4]

Delaware's agricultural output consists of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn. Its industrial outputs include chemical products, processed foods, paper products, and rubber and plastic products. Delaware's economy generally outperforms the national economy of the United States.

The state's largest employers are:

government (State of Delaware, New Castle County, University of Delaware)
chemical and pharmaceutical companies (E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Syngenta, AstraZeneca, and Hercules, Inc.)
banking (Bank of America, Wilmington Trust Company, First USA / Bank One / JPMorgan Chase, AIG, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank)
automotive manufacturing (General Motors, DaimlerChrysler)
farming, specifically chicken farming in Sussex County (Perdue, Mountaire Farms)
The United States headquarters of ING Group, and the U.S. operations of its online bank, ING Direct, are located in Wilmington.

Dover Air Force Base, just outside Dover, is one of the largest Air Force Bases in the country and is a major employer in Delaware. In addition to its other responsibilities, the base serves as the entry point and mortuary for American military persons (and some U.S. government civilians) who die overseas.

Delaware has 6 different income tax brackets, ranging from 2.2% to 5.95%. The state does not assess sales tax on consumers. The state does, however, impose a tax on the gross receipts of most businesses. Business and occupational license tax rates range from 0.096% to 1.92%, depending on the category of business activity.

Delaware does not assess a state-level tax on real or personal property. Real estate is subject to county property taxes, school district property taxes, vocational school district taxes, and, if located within an incorporated area, municipal property taxes.

The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as "DelDOT".[5] 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. Almost ninety percent of the state's public roadway miles are under the direct maintenance of DelDOT which far exceeds the United States national average of twenty percent for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility; the remaining public road miles are under the supervision of individual municipalities.

One major branch of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95, crosses Delaware southwest-to-northeast across New Castle County. In addition to I-95, there are seven principal highways: U.S. Highway 9, U.S. Highway 13, U.S. Highway 40, U.S. Highway 113, U.S. Highway 202, U.S. Route 301, and Delaware Route 1. U.S. 13 and DE Rt. 1 are primary north-south highways connecting Wilmington and Pennsylvania with Maryland, while U.S. 40, the primary east-west route, connects Maryland with New Jersey. The state also operates two toll highways, the Delaware Turnpike, which is Interstate 95 between Maryland and New Castle and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, which is DE Rt. 1 between Dover and Interstate 95 between Wilmington and Newark.

Delaware has around 1,450 bridges, of which ninety-five percent are under the supervision of DelDOT. About thirty percent of all Delaware bridges were built prior to 1950 and about sixty percent of the number are included in the National Bridge Inventory. Some bridges not under DelDOT supervision includes the four bridges on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is under the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority.

The public transportation system, DART First State, was named "Most Outstanding Public Transportation System" in 2003 by the American Public Transportation Association. Coverage of the system is broad within New Castle County with close association to major highways in Kent and Sussex Counties. The system includes bus, passenger rail, subsidized taxi and paratransit modes, the latter consisting of a state-wide door-to-door bus service for the elderly and disabled. Passenger rail service, like interstate highway service, is limited to a single southwest-to-northeast corridor in New Castle County. Ferry service exists between Lewes, Delaware and Cape May, New Jersey, across the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

Delaware has lacked air service from major carriers since 2000. On June 29, 2006, Atlantic Southeast Airline, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, began two-a-day flights between Atlanta's Hartsford International to New Castle Airport.[6]

Law and government
Presidential elections results Year Republican Democratic
2004 45.75% 171,660 53.35% 200,152
2000 41.90% 137,288 54.96% 180,068
1996 36.58% 99,062 51.82% 140,955
1992 35.33% 102,313 43.52% 126,054
1988 55.88% 139,639 43.48% 108,647
1984 59.78% 152,190 39.93% 101,656
1980 47.21% 111,252 44.87% 105,754
1976 46.57% 109,831 51.98% 122,596
1972 59.60% 140,357 39.18% 92,283
1968 45.12% 96,714 41.61% 89,194
1964 38.78% 78,078 60.95% 122,704
1960 49.00% 96,373 50.63% 99,590
Delaware's fourth and current constitution, adopted in 1897, provides for executive, judicial and legislative branches.

Legislative branch
Delaware General Assembly consists of a House of Representatives with 41 members and a Senate with 21 members. It sits in Dover, the state capital. Representatives are elected to two-year terms, while senators are elected to four-year terms. The Senate confirms judicial and other nominees appointed by the governor.

Judicial branch
The Delaware Constitution establishes a number of courts:

The Delaware Supreme Court is the state's highest court.
The Superior Court of Delaware is the state's trial court of general jurisdiction.
The Court of Chancery deals primarily in corporate disputes.
The Family Court handles domestic and custody matters.
The Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over a limited class of civil and criminal matters.
Minor non-constitutional courts include the Justice of the Peace Courts and Aldermen's Courts.

Significantly, Delaware has one of the few remaining Courts of Chancery in the nation, which has jurisdiction over equity cases, the vast majority of which are corporate disputes, many relating to mergers and acquisitions. The Court of Chancery and the Supreme Court have developed a worldwide reputation for rendering concise opinions concerning corporate law which generally (but not always) grant broad discretion to corporate boards of directors and officers. In addition, the Delaware General Corporation Law, which forms the basis of the Courts' opinions, is widely regarded as giving great flexibility to corporations to manage their affairs. For these reasons, Delaware is considered to have the most business-friendly legal system in the United States; therefore a great number of companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 60% of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange.[7]

Executive branch
The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Delaware. The present governor is Ruth Ann Minner (Democrat), who was elected as the state's first female governor in 2000. The lieutenant governor is John C. Carney, Jr.. Delaware's U.S. Senators are Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Democrat) and Thomas R. Carper (Democrat). Delaware's single US Representative is Michael N. Castle (Republican).

Further information: List of Governors of Delaware
Delaware has three counties: Kent County, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Each county elects its own legislative body (known in New Castle and Sussex counties as County Council, and in Kent County as Levy Court), which deal primarily in zoning and development issues. Most functions which are handled on a county-by-county basis in other states — such as court and law enforcement — have been centralized in Delaware, leading to a significant concentration of power in the Delaware state government. The counties were historically divided into hundreds, which were used as tax reporting and voting districts until the 1960s, but now serve no administrative role, their only current official legal use being in real-estate title descriptions.[8]

The Democratic Party holds a plurality of registrations in Delaware. Until the 2000 Presidential election, the state tended to be a Presidential bellwether, sending its three electoral votes to the winning candidate for over 50 years in a row. Bucking that trend, however, in 2000 and again in 2004 Delaware voted for the Democratic candidate. John Kerry won Delaware by eight percentage points with 53.5% of the vote in 2004.

Historically, the Republican Party had an immense influence on Delaware politics, due in large part to the wealthy du Pont family. This trend was so notable that Ralph Nader assembled a working group to investigate Delaware's political-industrial complex, resulting in a book published in 1968 entitled The Company State. As DuPont's might has declined, so has that of the Delaware Republican Party. The Democrats have won the past four gubernatorial elections and currently hold five of the nine statewide elected offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and two U.S. Senators). However, this belies the fact that the Democratic Party gains most of its votes from heavily-developed New Castle County, whereas the lesser-populated Kent and Sussex Counties vote Republican.

United States presidential election, 2004, in Delaware

Important cities and towns
Wilmington is the state's largest city and its economic hub. It is located within commuting distance of both Philadelphia and Baltimore. Despite Wilmington's size, all regions of Delaware are enjoying phenomenal growth, with Dover and the beach resorts expanding immensely.

Cities and Towns
New Castle
More Cities and Towns
Dewey Beach
Rehoboth Beach
Delaware cities
Historical populations
year Population


1790 59,096
1800 64,273
1810 72,674
1820 72,749
1830 76,748
1840 78,085
1850 91,532
1860 112,216
1870 125,015
1880 146,608
1890 168,493
1900 184,735
1910 202,322
1920 223,003
1930 238,380
1940 266,505
1950 318,085
1960 446,292
1970 548,104
1980 594,338
1990 666,168
2000 783,600

Top 10 richest places in Delaware
Ranked by per capita income

Greenville: $83,223
Henlopen Acres: $82,091
South Bethany: $53,624
Dewey Beach: $51,958
Fenwick Island: $44,415
Bethany Beach: $41,306
Hockessin: $40,516
North Star: $39,677
Rehoboth Beach: $38,494
Ardentown: $35,577
Further information: Delaware locations by per capita income

Delaware was the origin of Belton v. Gebhart, one of the four cases which was combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States decision that led to the end of segregated public schools. Significantly, Belton was the only case in which the state court found for the plaintiffs, thereby ruling that segregation was unconstitutional. Even more ironically, Delaware's segregated school system was substantially supported by donations from the wealthy du Pont family beginning with the Civil War, when the Du Pont Company's profits grew thanks to a high demand for its gunpowder products.

Unlike many states, Delaware's educational system is centralized in a state Superintendent of Education, with local school boards retaining control over taxation and some curriculum decisions.

A "three-tiered diploma" system fostered by Governor Ruth Ann Minner, which awarded "basic," "standard," and "distinguished" high-school diplomas based on a student's performance in the Delaware State Testing Program, was recently discontinued by the General Assembly after many Delawareans questioned its fairness.

Colleges and universities
Delaware State University
Delaware Technical & Community College
Drexel University at Wilmington
Goldey-Beacom College
University of Delaware
Wesley College
Widener University School of Law
Wilmington College

Miscellaneous topics

There are no network broadcast-television stations operating solely in Delaware. A public-television station from Philadelphia (but licensed to Wilmington), WHYY-TV, maintains a studio and broadcasting facility in Wilmington. Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI-TV, maintains a news bureau in downtown Wilmington. The northern part of the state is served by network stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the southern part by network stations in Baltimore and Salisbury, Maryland. Salisbury's CBS affiliate, WBOC-TV, maintains bureaus in Dover and Milton.

Botanical gardens
Delaware Center for Horticulture
Mt. Cuba Center
University of Delaware Botanic Gardens
Winterthur Museum and Grounds

The Big August Quarterly is an annual religious festival held in Wilmington, Delaware, and is sometimes called "Big Quarterly" or "August Quarterly." The festival began in 1814 by Peter Spencer in connection with the "quarterly" meeting (or "conference") of the African Union Church. Out of the four meetings during the year, the one in August became the "annual conference" of the Church when ministers' assignments for the next year were announced, among other business — it was a time for free blacks and slaves alike to come together (from the multi-state area) and celebrate their faith with singing, dancing, testifying, and feasting. It is the oldest such celebration in the country. Senator Biden's remarks on the significance of the "Big Quarterly" were published in the Congressional Record for 30 July 1981 (Vol. 127, No. 117) and for 9 August 1984 (Vol 130, No. 106).

Every year, the Delaware Sängerbund (German for Singers Alliance) holds a three day long Oktoberfest. Although the cultural significance of the Sängerbund has diminished over the years, the festival is extremely popular and attracts visitors from all over the East Coast.

The city of Wilmington is home to several ethnic festivals, including the Puerto Rican Festival, which includes a parade, the Polish Festival, the Greek Festival held at the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Italian Festival held at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church. Wilmington's substantial Polish-American population supports a yearly Pulaski Day Parade in March as well as a summer Polish Festival, hosted by Saint Hedwig's Roman Catholic Church. The Italian Festival is held in an area of Wilmington known as Little Italy by Saint Anthony's Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, and covers several blocks. It runs from sunup to sundown for a week, and features Italian food, merchandise, live music, bars, amusement park rides, and the All Saints parade on the closing night of the festival.

In Bethany Beach, the end of the summer season is honored each year with a traditional jazz funeral down the town's boardwalk. And at the end of October, Rehoboth Beach holds its annual "Sea Witch Halloween and Fiddlers' Festival." Rehoboth Beach also hosts the Polar Bear Plunge every February. This event involves running into the ocean to raise money for Special Olympics.

One of Delaware's most bizarre — and enjoyable — traditions is Sussex County's Punkin Chunkin, where specially grown pumpkins are shot from hydraulic or air-powered cannons, centrifugal devices and other various human powered contraptions. The goal is to see which device can hurl a pumpkin the greatest distance, with some currently reaching distances of almost a mile. The carnival atmosphere is themed in pumpkins with more and more attractions added each year.

Another unique Delaware rite is Return Day, which occurs every two years on the Thursday following the November general election. Believed to be the only event of its kind in the United States, and recognized as such by Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., and the U.S. Congress, it is a continuation of a tradition that dates back to Delaware's earliest days in the 18th century. Residents of Sussex County at that time would travel to Georgetown, the county seat, to cast their ballots and then wait, in the days following, to hear the results, or "returns." Today, the immediacy of television, newspapers, radio and the Internet would make such an event obsolete, but it has thrived as a matter of tradition and celebration. Festivities include the reading of election results from the Sussex County Courthouse balcony by the town crier, a parade in which winners and losers ride together, the roasting of an ox behind the courthouse, and the ceremonial burying of the hatchet in sand from Lewes Beach.

Delaware's professional sports teams are the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball team, an advanced Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox who play at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, and the Delaware Griffins, part of the Women's Professional Football League. Delaware is also home to the Delaware Smash who play World Team Tennis. The Smash were led in 2005 by Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.

In place of in-state professional sports teams, many Delawareans follow either Philadelphia or Baltimore teams, depending on their location within the state, with Philadelphia teams receiving the largest fan following, though before the Baltimore Ravens entered the NFL, the Washington Redskins had a significant fan base in Sussex County. In addition, the University of Delaware's football team has a loyal following throughout the state, with Delaware State University's team enjoying popularity on a much lesser scale.

Delaware is home to Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs. DIS, also known as the Monster Mile, hosts two NASCAR races each year. Dover Downs is a popular harness racing facility. In what may be the only co-located horse and car-racing facility in the nation, the Dover Downs track is located inside the DIS track.

Delaware has been home to professional wrestling outfit CZW, particularly the annual Tournament of Death, and ECWA, particularly the annual Super 8 Tournament.

Delaware Native Americans
Delaware is also the name of a Native American group (called in their own name Lenni Lenape) that was very influential in the dawning days of the United States. A band of the Nanticoke tribe of Indians still remains in Sussex County.

Delaware is one of three states, the others are Alaska and Rhode Island, that do not have a library that was donated by Andrew Carnegie.

The USS Delaware was named in honor of this state.
The catch phrase "Delaware, it's a state of mind" has become increasingly popular.


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