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Howard County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of Marylandmarker, between Baltimoremarker and Washington, D.C.marker It is considered part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.

Howard County is frequently cited for its affluence, quality of life, and excellent schools. In 2006 it was ranked the third wealthiest county by median household income in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. The main population center of Columbiamarker/Ellicott Citymarker was named 4th amongst Money magazine's "America's Best Places to Live." Howard County's schools frequently rank first in Maryland as measured by standardized test scores and graduation rates.

In 2000, its population was 247,842. Its county seat is Ellicott Citymarker. The center of population of Maryland is located on the county line between Howard County and Anne Arundel Countymarker, in the unincorporated town of Jessupmarker.

Due to the proximity of Howard County's population centers to Baltimore, the county has traditionally been considered a part of the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Recent development in the south of the county has led to some realignment towards the Washington, D.C.marker media and employment markets. The county is also home to Columbiamarker, a major planned community of 100,000 first developed by James Rouse in 1967. At first considered unreasonably utopian, Columbia recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and is now considered to be the first and most successful community of its kind.

History and politics

Howard District was formed in 1838 by the splitting of Anne Arundelmarker. It had the same status as a county except for not being represented in the Maryland General Assembly. In 1851, it became an official county.

The county was named for John Eager Howard, an officer in the American Revolutionary War and later the fifth Governor of Maryland.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Current and past County Executives:

Name Affiliation Term
  Omar J. Jones Democrat 1969 - 1973
  Edward L. Cochran Democrat 1974 - 1978
  J. Hugh Nichols Democrat 1978 - 1986
  William E. Eakle Democrat 1986 - 1986
  Elizabeth Bobo Democrat 1986 - 1990
  Charles I. Ecker Republican 1990 - 1998
  James N. Robey Democrat 1998 ‚Äď 2006
  Kenneth Ulman Democrat 2006 ‚Äď

The current members of the County Council are:

Position Name Affiliation District
  Member Courtney Watson Democrat 1
  Member Calvin Ball Democrat 2
  Vice-Chair Jen Terrasa Democrat 3
  Chair Mary Kay Sigaty Democrat 4
  Member Gregory Fox Republican 5

Law enforcement

The county is serviced by the Howard County Police Department, the Howard County Sheriff's Office, and the Maryland State Police.

Health care

Howard County General Hospital, located in Columbia, is the county's main hospital.

Howard County is the location of Healthy Howard, a program aimed at providing low-cost health care to some of its residents.


Howard County is located in the Maryland Piedmont region, with rolling hills making up most of the landscape. Its largest community is Columbiamarker, though it is not an incorporated city under Maryland law; in fact, Howard County has no incorporated municipalities. The northern portion of Howard County is part of the outskirts of Baltimoremarker, while the southern is more oriented toward Washington, D.C.marker Howard County is the only "Maryland-locked" county in the state, being the only county entirely enclosed by land and river boundaries with other Maryland counties.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and , or 0.60%, is water.

Adjacent counties


Howard County lies in the transition between the Humid subtropical climate zone and the Humid continental climate zone. The easternmost tip of the county has a true subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and cool, rainy winters. As one travels west in the county away from the Baltimoremarker area, the winter temperatures get lower and snow is more common. Annual rainfall is about throughout the county.


As of the census of 2000, there were 247,842 people, 90,043 households, and 65,821 families residing in the county. The population density was 983 people per square mile (380/km¬≤). There were 92,818 housing units at an average density of 368 per square mile (142/km¬≤). The racial makeup of the county was 74.33% White, 14.42% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 7.68% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.11% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. 3.02% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.1% were of German, 11.0% Irish, 9.3% English, 6.6% Italian and 5.7% Americanmarker ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 90,043 households out of which 40.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.50% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.90% were non-families. 20.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.10% under the age of 18, 6.30% from 18 to 24, 34.40% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 7.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $74,167, and the median income for a family was $85,422 (these figures had risen to $97,837 and $110,907 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $57,959 versus $40,412 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,402. About 2.50% of families and 3.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.80% of those under age 18 and 6.90% of those age 65 or over.

Population history

The following is a population history for Howard County from the U.S. Census Bureau. The ranking compares the population of Howard County to those of the other 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.

  • 1900.......16,715......22nd (Calvert and Caroline fewer)
  • 1910.......16,106......23rd (Calvert fewer)
  • 1920.......15,826......22nd (Calvert and Kent fewer)
  • 1930.......16,169......19th (Calvert, Charles, Kent, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's fewer)
  • 1940.......17,175......20th (Calvert, Kent, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's fewer)
  • 1950.......23,119......18th (Calvert, Caroline, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot fewer)
  • 1960.......36,152......14th (Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Worcester fewer)
  • 1970.......61,911......11th (Howard passing Cecil, St. Mary's, Wicomico in population)
  • 1980......118,572......7th (after only Anne Arundel, Balt. Cty and City, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's)
  • 1990......187,328......6th (passing Harford)
  • 2000......247,842......6th
  • 2004......266,738......6th


The Howard County Public School System manages 71 schools and serves approximately 49,000 students. The graduation rate from this school district is an above-average 92%, and the county's schools are ranked among the best in the state. Student test scores consistently top the list for all Maryland school districts. Public school construction has kept pace with the county’s growth in recent years to safeguard against crowded classrooms. Howard High School is currently the largest school in the county with over 1,600 students.

Culture and attractions

Unincorporated census-designated places

Howard County has no incorporated municipalities.

Unincorporated areas are considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:

  1. Columbiamarker
  2. Elkridgemarker
  3. Ellicott Citymarker
  4. Jessupmarker (a portion is also in Anne Arundel County)
  5. North Laurelmarker
  6. Savage-Guilfordmarker (a combination of the communities of Savage and Guilford recognized as a unit by the Census Bureau)

Other entities, such as the United States Postal Service, use a different selection of local place names. In all these cases, since the places are unincorporated, the boundaries are determined by the classifying authority. Unincorporated places not listed as Census-Designated Places but known in the area include:

  1. Clarksvillemarker
  2. Cooksvillemarker
  3. Danielsmarker
  4. Daytonmarker
  5. Dorseymarker
  6. Fultonmarker
  7. Glenelgmarker
  8. Glenwood
  9. Granitemarker
  10. Hanovermarker (a portion is also in Anne Arundel Countymarker)
  11. Henrytonmarker (primarily in Carroll Countymarker)
  12. Highlandmarker
  13. Ilchestermarker
  14. Lisbonmarker
  15. Marriottsvillemarker
  16. Scaggsvillemarker
  17. Simpsonvillemarker
  18. Sykesvillemarker (primarily in Carroll Countymarker)
  19. West Friendshipmarker
  20. Woodbinemarker
  21. Woodstockmarker (a portion is also in Baltimore County)


  • Several of the 9/11 terrorists stayed at a low-priced motel (North Laurel's Motel Valencia) in Howard County immediately before carrying out their attacks.

  • Howard County is the home of the largest ice cream plant in the United States, a 700,000-square-foot Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream facility, owned by Nestl√©.

  • 89 percent of Howard County residents hold library cards.

  • A campaign called "Choose Civility" has been going on for a while in Howard County. The campaign is to advertise and remind residents to be kind and courteous towards others. Many Howard County residents even sport green bumper magnets saying "Choose Civility" to show their support.


Marriottsville, Maryland is divided among two counties: Howard and Carroll.

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