Delmarva’s sweet spot status and growing population

June 25, 2021

I’ve often referred to the Delmarva Peninsula as the sweet spot of the northern hemisphere’s sweet spot. Of course, there’s plenty of provincialism involved, but that has never stopped me.

Delmarva, at 170 miles long from top to bottom, and 70 miles wide at its widest point between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, lies in the planet’s temperate zone which is well suited for human habitation. Beyond that, Delmarva lies in the center of the temperate zone, which gives it sweetness on top of sweetness. To the north, the water gets colder and the beaches get rockier. To the south, the water gets warmer, and more poisonous snakes and critters like alligators and crocodiles make life dicier.

But here on Delmarva, often called the land of pleasant living, we have few – if any – poisonous snakes, the beaches are beautiful and the water is fine for swimming; the sedimentary soils that created the peninsula after the recession of the last ice age 10,000 years ago left wonderful land for cultivation, and the waters around the peninsula abound with an amazing variety of succulent fish and shellfish. So what’s not to like?

By rough calculation, the total population of the Delmarva Peninsula – including two counties on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, nine counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and Delaware’s three counties – stands at 1,455,913. That’s as of the 2020 census and includes all of Delaware’s New Castle County. New Castle is the smallest, geographically, of Delaware’s three counties but with a population of 556,165, it is by far the most populous county in Delaware and on the peninsula.

Delaware also has the largest county geographically on Delmarva. Sussex County's 943 square miles give it that distinction, and it was also the fastest-growing county on Delmarva from the 2010 census to the 2020 census.

In 2010, Sussex County registered 197,103 residents compared to 224,384 residents in the 2020 census, a gain of 27,281. Overall, Delaware’s population grew from 897,937 residents in 2010 to 957,248 in the 2020 census.

The population of Maryland’s nine counties on Delmarva grew slightly from 449,226 in 2010 to 454,107 in 2020, while Virginia’s two Eastern Shore counties on Delmarva declined in population from 45,553 in 2010 to 44,558 in 2020.

Sussex County’s beaches and liberal zoning account for much of its status as the fastest-growing county on Delmarva.

Meanwhile, as summer 2021 officially began this week on June 21, the sweetness of Delmarva, with all of its peaches, sweet corn, crabs and chicken will continue to cement the region's status as one of the sweet spots of the planet’s temperate sweet spot.

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