Delaware, state, United States: Geography


Together with Eastern Shore Maryland and Virginia, Delaware occupies the Delmarva peninsula. It lies on the northeast of the peninsula, facing the Delaware River, which broadens into Delaware Bay; the bay in turn joins the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Henlopen. Delaware is sometimes called the Diamond State, a reference to its small size but relative wealth. With the Delaware River and Bay along its entire eastern edge and the Chesapeake Bay and its inlets close by to west in Maryland, no place in the narrow state is far from water.

Many small rivers, often tidal, flow across the state, some E to the Delaware River and Bay and the Atlantic, others W across Maryland to the Chesapeake. In the north the waters of the Christina and Brandywine flow into the Delaware River; in the south the Nanticoke flows SW to Chesapeake Bay. The land is low-lying, from sand dunes in the south to rolling hills on the Pennsylvania border in the north; the average elevation is c.60 ft (18 m), and the highest point, NW of Wilmington on the Pennsylvania border, is only 440 ft (134 m). The capital is Dover, and the only large city is Wilmington.

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