Delaware Need to Know: Essential Tips for Visitors and Residents


Delaware, affectionately known as the First State, earned its nickname because it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution and join the Union on December 7, 1787. Steeped in history, this small yet diverse state offers a range of urban cities, rural communities, beaches, forests, and farms. Its size makes it easily traversable; in Delaware, you can easily switch between bustling cities and serene natural environments.

Settlers from various countries have contributed to the state’s rich culture, while Delaware’s strategic location and progressive legislation have turned it into a booming economy. The emergence of industries such as financial services and chemical manufacturing is notable, as is the high standard of education in the area. With a strong infrastructure in place, Delaware connects its flourishing regions via modern transportation systems.

Key Takeaways

  • Delaware holds historical significance as the first state to join the Union.
  • The state boasts a diverse range of urban and rural landscapes, with thriving industries and high-quality education.
  • Delaware is well-connected by modern infrastructure and transportation systems.

History and Geography

Colonial Heritage

Delaware’s colonial heritage dates back to the arrival of the Swedes in the early 17th century. In 1638, Swedish settlers established the first permanent European settlement in the region, near the present-day Wilmington. Along the Delaware River, the Dutch and English also began to establish their own colonies during this period.

In 1664, the Dutch relinquished their claims to the area, and the English took control under the leadership of Thomas West. By the 18th century, Delaware had developed into a distinct colonial entity, separate from its neighboring colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Some key historical sites that remain today, such as the Dover Green, serve as a reminder of Delaware’s rich colonial past.

State Borders

Delaware is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is the second smallest state in terms of land area. The state is bordered by three states:

  • North: Pennsylvania
  • East: New Jersey
  • West and South: Maryland

In addition to its land boundaries, Delaware’s eastern border is defined by the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean. With a total area of 1,982 square miles, Delaware is ranked 49th in size among the 50 states. The state’s geography consists of coastal plains, marshlands, and some rolling hills, making it a largely low-lying, fertile region.

Government and Legislation

State Constitution

The Delaware State Constitution serves as the foundational legal document for the government and citizens, outlining the framework of the political system and the rights of individuals. It establishes the three branches of government: Executive, led by Governor John Carney, Legislative, consisting of the Delaware General Assembly, and Judicial, headed by the Delaware Supreme Court.

Legal System

Delaware’s legal system operates under a combination of statutes, common law, and case law. The General Assembly enacts bills and resolutions, which, when signed by the Governor, become law. Recent legislative actions include a minimum wage increase, new gun laws, marijuana legalization, and laws surrounding the Safe School and Recreation Zone.


The Delaware General Assembly sees numerous bills introduced each session. Some key bills that have been passed recently include:

  • Minimum Wage Increase: A gradual increase in the minimum wage, aiming to benefit workers.
  • Marijuana Legalization: The decriminalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use.
  • Safe School and Recreation Zone: Revisions to the offense of possession of a weapon in a Safe School and Recreation Zone.

Voting and Elections

Delaware residents participate in the electoral process through regular federal, state, and local elections. The state has implemented measures to promote voter participation, such as automatic voter registration.

  • Automatic Voter Registration: This policy streamlines the voter registration process, making it easier for eligible citizens to cast their ballots and engage in civic life.

In addition to these measures, the state government continuously works on environmental and social legislation to address challenges. Recently, Delaware has taken steps to address greenhouse gas emissions and implement climate change policies, improving the quality of life for future generations.

Economy and Employment

Job Market

Delaware’s economy is diverse, with significant contributions from sectors such as trade, transportation, and utilities. The state has recovered 82 percent of the jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020. Small businesses play a crucial role in the economy, employing many Delawareans.

Potential job seekers can utilize resources like the Delaware Employment Link and JobLink. These platforms assist in connecting Delawareans with available work opportunities across various industries, fostering economic growth and reducing unemployment rates in the state.

Income and Taxation

In 2021, Delaware’s average employment for all industries increased by 13,291 workers from 2020, with the total average annual wage rising by $1,932. This 3.1 percent increase in wages demonstrates positive growth for the state’s residents. The Delaware Available Income Calculator can help individuals estimate their net income after considering federal and state taxes.

Speaking of taxes, businesses operating in Delaware must be aware of the state’s Franchise Tax system. Franchise Tax refers to the annual fee that companies must pay to maintain their legal status in the state. This tax structure primarily affects corporations, LLCs, and other business entities rather than individuals.

Overall, Delaware’s economy and employment landscape offers plenty of opportunities for both businesses and individuals. Utilizing available resources and staying updated on current economic trends allows Delawareans to make informed decisions and contribute to the state’s growth.

Education System

Schools and Universities

The education system in Delaware consistently ranks among the top performers in the nation. As the state’s population continues to grow, attracting younger families, there is a continuous improvement and investment in education. The Delaware Department of Education oversees the state’s education system, with its headquarters in the Townsend Building in Dover, DE.

Delaware offers a variety of educational institutions, ranging from public and private K-12 schools to higher education institutions. Public schools are under the jurisdiction of the Delaware Department of Education, which provides resources and support for their operational needs. To find your local school and district, you can use the Delaware Department of Education’s school locator tool.

In addition to K-12 schools, Delaware is home to several higher education institutions, including the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Delaware Technical Community College. These institutions offer a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs tailored to meet the diverse needs of students.

Professional Certification

The Delaware Department of Education plays a crucial role in licensing and certifying teachers and other education professionals in the state. The Department ensures that educators are qualified and adhere to the standards set forth for the profession. To obtain a professional license, educators must meet specific requirements, such as holding a bachelor’s degree, completing an approved educator preparation program, and passing relevant examinations.

Types of licenses and certificates offered:

  • Initial License: This is the first level of licensure for new educators. It is typically valid for three years and can be converted to a continuing license upon meeting specific requirements.
  • Continuing License: This is the second level of licensure for educators with at least three years of experience. It is valid for five years and can be renewed upon completion of professional development requirements.
  • Advanced License: This level of licensure is for experienced educators with a minimum of ten years of experience and a demonstrated consistent record of effectiveness. It is valid for ten years and can be renewed upon completion of professional development requirements.

In addition to licensure, the Delaware Department of Education offers various professional development opportunities for teachers to enhance their skills and knowledge. This ensures that teachers in Delaware continually improve their teaching practices and stay current with the ever-changing educational landscape, ultimately benefiting the students they serve.

Infrastructure and Transportation

Roadways and Safety

Delaware is investing in its infrastructure and transportation systems to improve the safety and usability of its roadways. The state is allocating funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance major planned projects, protect its transportation network, and make roads more resilient to climate change (source 1). This improves driving conditions and lowers risks associated with accidents.

Motorists in Delaware are encouraged to adhere to speed limits, and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is proactive in enforcing safety regulations through its Speeding Violation Monitoring system. In addition, green lights on snow plows help keep roads clear and safe during adverse weather conditions.

The state also supports the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) with various incentive programs. Public charging stations are being installed statewide to promote cleaner transportation options, benefits of which include reduced emissions and fuel consumption.

Public Transportation

Delaware’s public transportation system is receiving a boost with the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Non-white households in the state are 3.7 times more likely to commute via public transportation, and those who do spend 87% more time commuting compared to private vehicle users (source 2). The new investments aim to reduce transit times and provide better overall service.

Of note, around 10% of Delaware’s transit vehicles are reportedly past their useful life (source 2). The state is now working on updating and expanding its public transportation fleet, which may include upgrades to buses and trains, as well as increased accessibility for those with mobility challenges.

The Division of Motor Vehicles in Delaware oversees motorcycle licensing, ensuring that riders are well equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to safely navigate public roadways.

In conclusion, Delaware is making strides in improving its infrastructure and transportation systems, benefiting both drivers and users of public transit. The state’s investments aim to provide safer, more accessible, and efficient transportation options for all residents.

Culture and Lifestyle

Arts and Festivals

Delaware’s arts scene is vibrant and diverse, featuring numerous museums, galleries, and performance venues. The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington houses a vast collection of American art from the 19th to the 21st century. It also has a renowned Pre-Raphaelite collection, showcasing works of art from artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais.

Delawareans also take great pride in their festivals and annual events. One popular event is the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, showcasing independent films from around the world. Another prominent event is the Delaware Shakespeare Festival, held in the picturesque Rockwood Park, where guests can enjoy open-air performances of the Bard’s plays.

Recreation and Parks

Delaware’s outdoor recreational opportunities abound, particularly in its state parks and beaches. With over 17 state parks covering diverse landscapes and offering a wide range of recreational activities, there’s something for everyone.

State Park Activity
Cape Henlopen Beaches, Hiking
Lums Pond Boating, Fishing
Killens Pond Water Park

The Cape Henlopen State Park is a favorite among both locals and visitors due to its pristine beaches, historic landmarks, and beautiful hiking trails. The park also boasts a WWII observation tower, offering expansive views of the surrounding landscape.

  • Delaware’s beaches are also a popular attraction, with Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach being top choices for visitors and locals alike. Known for their family-friendly atmospheres and clean sands, these beaches are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and a truly relaxing experience. The lively boardwalks, full of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options, are a must-visit as well.

In conclusion, Delaware offers a rich cultural and recreational scene, from its art institutions and festivals to its notable state parks and beaches. With its varied opportunities for entertainment and relaxation, there’s never a dull moment in the First State.

Health and Social Services

Healthcare Facilities

Delaware offers an array of healthcare facilities to cater to the health needs of its residents. These facilities range from hospitals, clinics, and specialized treatment centers. Residents can access primary care, emergency services, and specialized treatment options in these institutions.

Hospitals in Delaware:

  • Christiana Hospital
  • Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
  • Wilmington Hospital

Community Programs

Delaware has a range of community programs designed to assist residents in various areas such as health and well-being. The Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) is responsible for administering these programs, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food benefits, Subsidized Child Care, General Assistance, and Refugee Cash Assistance.

Key Community Programs and Services:

  1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Provides financial assistance to eligible families to help meet their basic needs.
  2. Food Benefits (SNAP): Offers nutrition assistance to eligible low-income individuals and families.
  3. Subsidized Child Care: This program helps low-income families with the costs of childcare.
  4. General Assistance: Provides financial help for eligible individuals facing financial hardships.
  5. Refugee Cash Assistance: Offers financial support to eligible refugees without children during their first eight months in the United States.

Bereavement Leave

In Delaware, employees may be entitled to bereavement leave to attend a funeral, make arrangements, or grieve the loss of a close family member. The duration of the leave depends on the employer’s policies and may vary from one organization to another.

Employees should consult their company’s human resource department or employee handbook for specific information regarding bereavement leave policies and procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key attractions that make Delaware famous?

Delaware is known for its picturesque beaches, beautiful parks, and historic sites. Some popular attractions include Rehoboth Beach, Cape Henlopen State Park, and the Delaware Art Museum. The state is also famous for its tax-free shopping, attracting visitors from neighboring states.

What historical significance does Delaware hold in American history?

Delaware holds great historical significance in American history, as it was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787. The state has several historic sites, such as the First State National Historical Park and Old New Castle, showcasing its rich history.

Could you list some unique and interesting facts about Delaware?

  • Delaware is the second smallest state in the U.S., covering only 1,982 square miles.
  • The state’s nickname is “The First State” due to being the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • Dover is the capital of Delaware, while Wilmington is its largest city.
  • Delaware is the only state without any National Park System units such as a national park, national monument, or national historic site.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in Delaware?

Advantages of living in Delaware include lower living costs, tax-free shopping, and access to beautiful parks and beaches. The state’s location also allows for convenient travel to nearby cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Disadvantages include a higher crime rate in certain areas, limited public transportation options, and fewer big-city amenities compared to larger neighboring states.

What is the population of Delaware and how does it impact the state?

The population of Delaware is approximately 990,000, making it one of the least populous states in the U.S. This smaller population size can lead to a tight-knit community feel in certain areas. However, it can also contribute to a lack of diversity and fewer opportunities for economic growth compared to more populous states.

What is the state tree of Delaware and what does it symbolize?

The state tree of Delaware is the American Holly, known for its distinctive red berries and evergreen leaves. The tree is a symbol of Delaware’s natural beauty and the state’s commitment to preserving its forests and green spaces. American Holly is also associated with the winter holiday season, representing goodwill and festivity.