Delaware's nickname is "The First State," because it was the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution of the United States on December 7, 1787. The state is named after the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, which, in turn, were both named after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, the first colonial governor of Virginia. The most important cities include Dover (the state's capital), Wilmington, Newark, Milford and Elsmere. Delaware's beautiful beaches are one of the main tourist attractions, with their perfect conditions for all kinds of outdoor sports at the sea such as swimming, sailing and fishing. The most popular beaches include Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island.

The Spanish and the Portuguese already arrived at the present day Delaware coast in the 16th century. But also later explorers - such as Henry Hudson in 1609, who went up to the Delaware River - reached the Delaware coastlines, even if there are no records of them actually landing there.

The first European settlers arrived only in 1631 with a trading company under the leadership of Captain David Pietersen de Vries and set up a trading post at Zwaanendael, the present day Lewes.

In March of 1638 a Swedish expedition under the leadership of Captain Peter Minuit reached the coast of present day Delaware. Their Fort Christiana was not only the first permanent settlement in Delaware, but in the whole of North America.

On December 7, 1787, Delaware was the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the US Constitution at a ceremony in Dover.


For several years now, Delaware has been the economically most successful state in the US. Real GDP per capita was $59,288 in 2006 (national average of all 50 states: $37,714), making it number one in the national ranking. One reason for Delaware's economic power are the state's favorable tax laws for holding companies. Because of this, almost all large US companies are incorporated in Delaware. As a result of the Delaware-effect, the state is known as the seat of 62,000 letter-box companies, among them several big groups. Delaware is a tax haven: apart from low taxes, it is also possible in the state, similar to Liechtenstein, to set up a company anonymously. No minimum capital is required to set up a company and one director is enough. Another advantage is that meetings can be held anywhere and the state has no disclosure requirements.

Delaware's agricultural products are mainly poultry, soy beans, dairy products, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, peas, barley, cucumbers, and wheat.

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