Delaware ( /ˈdɛləwɛər/ (help·info) DEL-ə-wair) is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, a British nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor, after whom (what is now called) Cape Henlopen was originally named.
Delaware is located in the eastern section of the Delmarva Peninsula, between Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay, and is the second smallest state in area (after Rhode Island). 2007 estimates place the population of Delaware ranking 45th in the nation, but 6th in population density, with more than 60% of the population in New Castle County. Delaware is divided into three counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. While the southern two counties have historically been predominantly agricultural, the northernmost county has helped lead the state to rank second in civilian scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce and number of patents issued to companies or individuals per 1,000 workers. The history of the state's economic and industrial development is closely tied to the impact of the Du Pont family, founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, one of the world’s largest chemical companies.
Before its coastline was first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape toward the north and Nanticoke toward the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, located near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the thirteen original states participating in the American Revolution and on December 7, 1787, became the first to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
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