"The Small Wonder" made big history on December 7, 1787 when it became the first of the thirteen British colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making it the first of the 50 current U.S. states. Delaware, the second-smallest state in the country ahead of only Rhode Island, contains just under a million residents. Its three counties are the fewest of any state, not counting Connecticut and Massachusetts, who abolished county government in 1960 and whose counties only exist as geographical divisions today, or Alaska's census areas. Delaware's most populous city is the Philadelphia satellite of Wilmington, and its capital city is Dover. Most of Delaware lies within the coastal plain of the Delmarva Peninsula; its highest point, near the Pennsylvania border in New Castle County, is only 448 feet above sea level. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal roughly separates the state's two regions. Delaware's namesake is its eastern boundary, the Delaware Bay. A number of beach towns, such as Rehobeth Beach, Bethany Beach and Lewes, line Delaware's east coast.
Delaware's only mainline Interstate highway is Interstate 95 in New Castle County, which serves the cities of Newark (home of the Delaware State University) and Wilmington. A toll road, Delaware Route 1, connects I-95 to Dover, which is home to the Dover Air Force Base and NASCAR's Dover International Speedway. Delaware Route 1 then continues past Dover through Milford and then to the beach towns, ultimately reaching Ocean City, Maryland. Interstate 295 crosses over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and brings drivers to the New Jersey Turnpike. Interstate 495 provides a bypass around downtown Wilmington. U.S. Route 13 bisects the entire state. U.S. Route 113 is an eastern parallel to U.S. 13 south of Dover. U.S..Route 9 begins near Georgetown in Sussex County and crosses the Delaware Bay via a ferry from Lewes to Cape May, New Jersey. Delaware Route 896 provides a thoroughfare between Newark and Middletown. U.S. Route 301 has its northern terminus at DE-1 at Biddles Corner in New Castle County, and bypasses Middletown via its own toll road, before dipping into Maryland's Eastern Shore. U.S. 40 parallels I-95 until it reaches U.S. 13 near New Castle, then joins with I-295 over the Delaware Memorial.