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State of Maryland
State flag of Maryland State seal of Maryland
(Flag of Maryland) (Seal of Maryland)
State nickname: Old Line State; Free State
Map of the U.S. with Maryland highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Annapolis
Largest city Baltimore
Governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R)
Senators Paul Sarbanes (D)

Barbara Mikulski (D)

Official language(s) English
Area 32,160 km² (42nd)
 - Land 25,338 km²
 - Water 6,968 km² (21%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 5,296,486 (19th)
 - Density 165 /km² (5th)
Admission into Union
 - Date April 28, 1788
 - Order 7th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Latitude 37°53'N to 39°43'N
Longitude 75°4'W to 79°33'W
Width 145 km
Length 400 km
 - Highest point 1,024 m
 - Mean 105 m
 - Lowest point 0 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-MD
Web site

Maryland is a state of the United States, one of the South Atlantic States (although often considered part of the Mid-Atlantic States and sometimes part of the Northeast). Its U.S. postal abbreviation is MD. Its Associated Press abbreviation is Md. Maryland was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution.



Main article: History of Maryland

George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore applied to Charles I for a new royal charter for what was to become the Province of Maryland. George Calvert died in April 1632, but a charter for "Maryland Colony" (in Latin, "Terra Maria") was granted to his son, Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, on June 20, 1632. The new colony was named in honor of Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I.

The English colony of Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore who on March 25, 1634 sent the first settlers into this area which would soon become one of the few dominantly Catholic regions among the English colonies in America. Maryland was one of the key destinations of tens of thousands of British convicts, which carried on until independence. The Maryland Toleration Act (1649) was one of the first laws that explicitly tolerated varieties of religion (as long as it was Christian), and is sometimes seen as a precursor to the First Amendment.

Originally, based on an incorrect map, the royal charter granted Maryland the Potomac River and territory northward to the fortieth parallel. This was found to be a problem, because the northern boundary would put Philadelphia, the major city in Pennsylvania, within Maryland. The Calvert family, which controlled Maryland, and the Penn family, which controlled Pennsylvania, engaged two surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, to survey what became known as the Mason-Dixon line which would form the boundary between their two colonies and would become the unofficial dividing line between North and South.

St. Mary's City was the largest site of the original Maryland colony, and was the seat of the colonial government until 1708. After Virginia made the practice of Anglicanism mandatory, a large number of Puritans migrated from Virginia to Maryland, and were given land for a settlement called Providence (now called Annapolis). In 1650, the Puritans revolted against the proprietary government and set up a new government that outlawed both Catholicism and Anglicanism. This lasted until 1658 when the Calvert family regained control and re-enacted the Toleration Act. However, after England's "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, when William of Orange and his wife Mary came to the throne and finally and firmly established the Protestant faith in England, Catholicism was outlawed in Maryland until after the Revolutionary War. Many wealthy plantation owners built chapels on their land so that they could practice their Catholicism in relative secrecy.

During the persecution of Maryland Catholics by the Puritan revolutionary government, all of the original Catholic churches of southern Maryland were burned down. St Mary's City is now an archaeological site, with a small tourist center.

In 1708 the seat of government was moved to Providence, renamed Annapolis in honor of Queen Anne.

In December of 1790 Maryland ceded land selected by President George Washington to the federal government for the creation of Washington, D.C.

During the War of 1812 the British military attempted to capture the port of Baltimore which was protected by Fort McHenry. It was during this bombardment that the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key.

Despite a lot of popular support for the cause of the Confederate States of America, Maryland did not secede during the Civil War, in part due to precautions taken by the government in Washington, D.C.. Abraham Lincoln defied the Constitution and suspended civil rights in Maryland; a new pro-union governor and legislature were elected. Eligible citizens had to vote under the watchful eyes of armed guards, thus ensuring a victory for Lincoln. Because of this it was not included under the Emancipation Proclamation (The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states in rebellion). A constitutional convention was held during 1864 that culminated in the passage of a new state constitution on November 1 of that year. Article 24 of that document outlawed the practice of slavery. The right to vote was extended to non-white males in 1867.

Law and government

Main article: Government of Maryland

The Government of Maryland is conducted according to the state constitution. The United States is a federation; consequently, the Government of Maryland, like the other 49 state governments, has exclusive authority over matters that lie entirely within the state's borders, except as limited by the Constitution of the United States. Maryland is a republic; the United States guarantees her "republican form of government" [|USC Article IV, section 4] although there is considerable disagreement about the meaning of that phrase.

Power in Maryland is divided among three branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial. Unlike most other states, significant autonomy is granted to many of Maryland's counties.

Most of the business of government is done in Annapolis, the State capital. Virtually all state and county elections are held in even numbered years not divisible by four, in which the President of the United States is not elected - this, as in other States, is intended to divide State and Federal politics.

Since pre-Civil War times, Maryland politics has been largely controlled by the Democrats. In the last decade, however, Republicans have made inroads in the state, including the election of the first Republican governor in almost four decades, and larger numbers of new voters are classifying themselves as independents. Blue-collar "Reagan Democrats" frequently vote Republican. Despite this, the state continues to be overwhelmingly Democratic. The state is dominated by the two urban/inner suburban regions of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. In addition, many jobs are directly or indirectly dependent upon the federal government. Thus the three-County voting block of Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Prince George's County often decides statewide elections. This is balanced by lesser populated areas on the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, and outer suburbs that tend to support Republicans.

As a result, voters have chosen the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential elections, both Maryland Senators and six of its eight Representatives in Congress are Democrats, and Democrats hold super-majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates. John Kerry easily won the state's 10 electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 13 percentage points with 55.9% of the vote.

These statistics easily make Maryland one of the most liberal states in the country, but it has escaped much of the criticism and defamation heaped on other Democratic-leaning states such as Massachusetts.

There is great debate as to whether Maryland is in the North or South, and many have resorted to referring to Maryland and Delaware as the Mid Atlantic. Some people include Virginia in this category, but it usually applies exclusively to Maryland and Delaware.

However, presidential election years are not deeply contested as national party resources are spent in other states and turnout and interest is frequently relatively low.

Geography and climate


Maryland counties
Maryland counties

Maryland is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania, on the west by West Virginia, on the east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south, across the Potomac River, by Virginia. It shares a border near the center of the state along the Potomac with Washington, DC. The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state, and the counties east of the Bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore. A portion of extreme western Maryland in Garrett County is drained by the Youghiogheny River as part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. The highest point in Maryland is Backbone Mountain, which is the southwest corner of Garrett County, right near the border with West Virginia near the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac. Also in Western Maryland, about two-thirds of the way across the state line, is a point at which the state of Maryland is only two miles wide. This geographical curiosity, the "Maryland wasp-waist" is located near the small town of Hancock.

The Delmarva Peninsula is a geographic term for the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, the state of Delaware, and two counties of Virginia, which all together form a long extension down the Atlantic seaboard. One of the most noted features of Delmarva is Maryland's Assateague Island, on the Atlantic, with its herd of wild ponies accustomed to the seashore.


Climate varies greatly across the state, depending on factors like elevation, rainfall, and proximity to water. The Eastern Shore region, as well as a small part of the western shore (including Baltimore, Annapolis, and St. Mary's City) are a part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, which has a humid subtropical climate of hot summers and mild winters. Beyond the plain rise the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and the Piedmont region has warm summers and colder winters, where snow often falls. Extreme western Maryland has a mountain climate with mild summers and cold winters. Growing climate varies from USDA Zone 8 on the Eastern Shore and in the cities of Baltimore and Washington DC to Zones 7 and 6 is the Piedmont, to Zone 5 in the mountainous west.


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maryland's total state product in 2003 was $212 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $37,446, 5th in the nation.

Maryland's economic activity is strongly concentrated in the tertiary service sector, and this sector, in turn, is strongly influenced by location. One major service activity is transportation, centered around the Port of Baltimore and its related rail and trucking access. The port ranked 10th in the USA by tonnage in 2002 (Source: U.S. Corps of Engineers, "Waterborn Commerce Statistics"). Although the port handles a wide variety of products, the most typical imports are raw materials and bulk commodities, such as iron ore, petroleum, sugar, and fertilizers, often distributed to the relatively close manufacturing centers of the inland Midwest via good overland transportation.

A second service activity takes advantage of the close location of the center of government in Washington, D.C. and emphasizes technical and administrative tasks for the defense/aerospace industry and bio-research laboratories, as well as staffing of satellite government headquarters in the suburban or exurban Baltimore/Washington area. In addition to these are many educational and medical research institutions. In fact, the various components of Johns Hopkins University and its medical research facilities are now the largest single employer in the Baltimore area. Altogether, white collar technical and administrative workers comprise 25% of Maryland's labor force, one of the highest state percentages in the country. A list of government agencies located in Maryland is summarized below:

Maryland has a large food producing sector. One component is commercial fishing, centered in Chesapeake Bay, but also including activity off the short Atlantic seacoast. The largest catches by species are the blue crab, oysters, striped bass, and menhaden. The Bay also has uncounted millions of overwintering waterfowl in its many wildlife refuges. While not, strictly speaking, a commercial food resource, the waterfowl support a tourism sector of sportsmen.

Maryland has a large amount of fertile agricultural land in its coastal and Piedmont zones, although this land use is being encroached upon by urbanization. Agriculture is oriented to dairying for nearby large city milksheads plus specialty perishable horticulture crops, such as cucumbers, watermelons, sweet corn, tomatoes, muskmelons, squash, and peas (Source:USDA Crop Profiles). In addition, the southern counties of the western shoreline of Chesapeake Bay support a tobacco cash crop zone, which has been in existence since early Colonial times. There is also a large chicken-farming sector in the state.

The third component of the food producing sector is Maryland's food processing plants, which are the most significant type of manufacturing by value in the state.

Manufacturing, while large in dollar value, is highly diversified with no sub-sector contributing over 20% of the total. Typical forms of manufacturing include electronics, computer equipment, and chemicals. The once mighty primary metals sub-sector, which at one time included what was then the largest steel factory in the world at Sparrows Point, still exists, but is pressed with foreign competition, bankruptcies, and company mergers.

Mining other than construction materials is virtually limited to coal, located in the mountainous western part of the state. In construction mention should be made of the brownstone quarries in the east, which gave Baltimore and Washington much of their characteristic architecture in the mid-1800s. Historically, there used to be small gold mining operations in Maryland, some surprisingly near Washington, but these no longer exist.

Military facilities

Historical facilities


The sample version of Maryland's license plate, first introduced in 1986.
The sample version of Maryland's license plate, first introduced in 1986.

Maryland's major Interstate Highways include I-95, which enters the northeast portion of the state, goes through Baltimore, and becomes the Capital Beltway to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I-68 connects the western portions of the state to Frederick, and I-70 connects Frederick with Baltimore. I-695 is the Baltimore beltway.

Maryland's main airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (formerly known as Friendship Airport and recently renamed for former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall). The Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. are also serviced by the other two airports in the region, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport, both in Northern Virginia.

Amtrak trains serve Baltimore along the Northeast Corridor. In addition, train service is provided between Washington, D.C., Rockville, Maryland, and Cumberland, Maryland on the Amtrak Capitol Limited. MARC trains, operated by the State's Transit Authority, connect nearby Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and other towns. Montgomery County and Prince George's County are served by the Washington Metro subway and bus system.


Historical populations

1790 319,728
1800 341,548
1810 380,546
1820 407,350
1830 447,040
1840 470,019
1850 583,034
1860 687,049
1870 780,894
1880 934,943
1890 1,042,390
1900 1,188,044
1910 1,295,346
1920 1,449,661
1930 1,631,526
1940 1,821,244
1950 2,343,001
1960 3,100,689
1970 3,922,399
1980 4,216,975
1990 4,781,468
2000 5,296,486

As of 2004, Maryland's population was estimated to be 5,558,058. The state has 583,900 foreign-born residents (10.6% of the state population), of which an estimated 56,000 are illegal aliens (1% of the state population). Maryland's population grew by 777,000 between 1990 and 2004, a 16% growth.

Most of the population of Maryland lives in the central region of the state, in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. The Eastern Shore is less populous and more rural, as are the counties of southern Maryland. The three counties of Western Maryland (Allegany, Garrett, and Washington) are mountainous and sparsely populated, resembling West Virginia more than they do the rest of Maryland. Although the African American proportion is not as high as it was during the eighteenth century peak of tobacco plantation production (when it was 38%), Maryland still has the largest black population of any state outside of the Deep South.

The racial makeup of the state:

The five largest reported ancestries in Maryland are: German (15.7%), Irish (11.7%), English (9%), American (5.8%).

Blacks are concentrated in Baltimore City, Prince George's County, and the southern Eastern Shore. Most of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland are populated by Marylanders of British ancestry. Western and northern Maryland have large German-American populations.


Maryland was founded for the purpose of providing religious toleration of England's Catholic minority. Nevertheless, the Crown later reversed that policy and discouraged the practice of Catholicism in Maryland. Despite the founding intent of the colony, Catholics have never been in a majority in Maryland since early Colonial times. The present religious composition of the state is shown below:

Notwithstanding numerical positions, the founding intent of Maryland has made the state prominent in US Catholic tradition. For example, Baltimore was the location of the first Catholic bishop in the USA (1789) and Emmitsburg, the home and burial place of the first American-born citizen to be canonized, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Important cities and towns

See incorporated cities at List of cities in Maryland and unincorporated cities at List of census-designated places in Maryland.


Famous Marylanders


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Miscellaneous information

  • Maryland is about two miles wide around the town of Hancock, making it the narrowest state.

External links

Flag of Maryland

State of Maryland
Cities | Government | History | U.S. Senators and Representatives

State capital:



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