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Maryland ( ) is a state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United Statesmarker, bordering Virginiamarker, West Virginiamarker and the District of Columbiamarker to the south and west, Pennsylvaniamarker to the north, and Delawaremarker to the east. It is comparable in size to the European country of Belgiummarker. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland has the highest median household income of any state, having surpassed New Jerseymarker in 2006; Maryland's median household income was $68,080 in 2007. For 2009, Maryland ranked first—for the third year in a row—as the U.S. state with the highest median income for 2008, with a median income of $70,545. It was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution and bears two nicknames, the Old Line State and the Free State.

Maryland is a life sciences hub with over 350 biotechnology firms, making it the third-largest such cluster in the nation. Institutions and agencies located throughout Maryland include the University System of Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Celera Genomics, Human Genome Sciences (HGS), the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), MedImmune (recently purchased by AstraZeneca), the National Institutes of Healthmarker (NIH), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Physical geography

Maryland possesses a great variety of topography, hence its nickname, "America in Miniature." It ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forest in the Piedmont Region, and pine groves in the mountains to the west.
Physical regions of Maryland
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, largest estuary in the United States and the largest physical feature in Maryland.

Maryland is bounded on the north by Pennsylvaniamarker, on the west by West Virginiamarker, on the east by Delawaremarker and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginiamarker. The mid-portion of this border is interrupted on the Maryland side by Washington, DCmarker, which sits on land that was originally part of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state, and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore. Most of the state's waterways are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with the exceptions of a portion of Garrett Countymarker (drained by the Youghiogheny River as part of the watershed of the Mississippi River), the eastern half of Worcester County (which drains into Maryland's Atlantic coastal bays), and a small portion of the state's northeast corner (which drains into the Delaware River watershed). So prominent is the Chesapeake in Maryland's geography and economic life that there has been periodic agitation to change the state's official nickname to the "Bay State," a name currently used by Massachusettsmarker.

The highest point in Maryland, with an elevation of , is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountainmarker, in the southwest corner of Garrett Countymarker, near the border with West Virginia and near the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac River. One of Maryland's ski areas, Wisp, is located close to Backbone Mountain. Close to the small town of Hancockmarker, in western Maryland, about two-thirds of the way across the state, there is only about between its borders. This geographical curiosity makes Maryland the narrowest state, bordered by the Mason-Dixon Linemarker to the north, and the north-arching Potomac River to the south.
Maryland state welcome sign

Portions of Maryland are included in various official and unofficial geographic regions. For example, the Delmarva Peninsulamarker comprises the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, the entire State of Delaware, and the two counties that make up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, while the westernmost counties of Maryland are considered part of Appalachia. Much of the Baltimore–Washington corridor lies just south of the Piedmont in the Coastal Plain, though it straddles the border between the two regions.

A quirk of Maryland's geography is that the state contains no natural lakes. During the last Ice Age, glaciers did not reach as far south as Maryland, and therefore did not carve out deep natural lakes as exist in northern states. There are numerous man-made lakes, the largest being Deep Creek Lakemarker, a reservoir in Garrett County. The lack of glacial history also accounts for Maryland's soil, which is more sandy and muddy than the rocky soils of New Englandmarker.

Human geography

Maryland counties

The majority of Maryland's population is concentrated in the cities and suburbs surrounding Washington, DCmarker and Maryland's most populous city, Baltimoremarker. Historically, these and many other Maryland cities developed along the fall line, the point at which rivers are no longer navigable from sea level due to the presence of rapids or waterfalls. Maryland's capital, Annapolismarker, is one exception to this rule, lying along the Severn Rivermarker close to where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Other major population centers include suburban hubs Columbiamarker in Howard Countymarker, Silver Springmarker, Rockvillemarker and Gaithersburgmarker in Montgomery Countymarker, Frederickmarker in Frederick Countymarker and Hagerstownmarker in Washington Countymarker. The eastern, southern, and western portions of the state tend to be more rural, although they are dotted with cities of regional importance such as Salisburymarker and Ocean Citymarker on the Eastern Shore, Lexington Parkmarker and Waldorfmarker in Southern Maryland, and Cumberlandmarker in Western Maryland.
Geographic regions of Maryland
Maryland's history as a border state has led it to exhibit characteristics of both the Northern and Southern regions of the United States. Generally, rural Western Maryland between the West Virginian Panhandle and Pennsylvaniamarker has an Appalachian culture, the Southern and Eastern Shore regions of Maryland emulate a Southern culture, while densely-populated Central Maryland—radiating outward from Baltimoremarker and Washington D.C.marker—has more in common with of the Northeast. The U.S. Census Bureau designates Maryland as one of the South Atlantic States, but it is commonly associated with the Mid-Atlantic States and/or Northeastern United States by other federal agencies, the media, and some residents.

File:Annapolis street.jpg|AnnapolisFile:Baltimore City Hall from Northeast.jpg|BaltimoremarkerFile:Baltimore Inner Harbor.jpg|Baltimore's Inner HarbormarkerFile:Bethesda downtown panorama.jpg|BethesdamarkerFile:2008_01_02_-_MD564_@_Chapel_Ave_03.JPG|BowiemarkerFile:Chesapeake_City_Maryland_Bridge_At_Night.jpg|Chesapeake CitymarkerFile:McKeldin Library, front view, mid-afternoon light, August 21, 2006.jpg|College ParkmarkerFile:Cumberland maryland.jpg|CumberlandmarkerFile:Ellicott City Main Street.jpg|Ellicott CitymarkerFile:2008 03 28 - Frederick - City Hall 2.jpg|FrederickmarkerFile:Gaithersburg, Maryland.jpg|GaithersburgmarkerFile:GreenbeltRooseveltCtr1.jpg|GreenbeltmarkerFile:Hagerstown Downtown Potomac St.JPG|HagerstownmarkerFile:LaurelMuseum.jpg|LaurelmarkerFile:Ocean City Maryland aerial view north.jpg|Ocean CitymarkerFile:Prince Frederick Maryland USA.jpg|Prince FrederickmarkerFile:Rockvillemd.jpg|RockvillemarkerFile:Ellsworth-ssmd.png|Silver SpringmarkerFile:PGcourthouse1.JPG|Upper Marlboromarker


Maryland has a wide array of climates for a state of its size. It depends on numerous variables, such as proximity to water, elevation, and protection from colder weather due to downslope wind.

The eastern half of Maryland lies on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, with very flat topography and very sandy or muddy soil. This region has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and a short, mild to cool winter. This region includes the cities of Salisburymarker, Annapolismarker, Ocean Citymarker, and southern and eastern greater Baltimoremarker.

Beyond this region lies the Piedmont which lies in the transition between the humid subtropical climate zone and the subtropical highland zone (Köppen Cfb), with hot, humid summers and cool winters where average annual snowfall exceeds 20 inches and temperatures below 10°F are annual occurrences. This region includes Frederickmarker, Hagerstownmarker, Westminstermarker, Gaithersburgmarker and northern and western greater Baltimore.

Extreme western Maryland, in the higher elevations of Allegany Countymarker and Garrett County lie completely in the subtropical highland (Köppen Cfb) zone, due to elevation (more typical of the Appalachian mountain regionmarker) with milder summers and cool, often snowy winters.

Precipitation in the state is characteristic of the East Coast. Annual rainfall ranges from with more in higher elevations. Nearly every part of Maryland receives per month of precipitation. Snowfall varies from in the coastal areas to over a winter in the western mountains of the state.

Because of its location near the Atlantic Coast, Maryland is somewhat vulnerable to tropical cyclones, although the Delmarva Peninsulamarker, and the outer banks of North Carolinamarker to the south provide a large buffer, such that a strike from a major hurricane (category 3 or above) is not very likely. More often, Maryland might get the remnants of a tropical system which has already come ashore and released most of its wind energy. Maryland averages around 30–40 days of thunderstorms a year, and averages around six tornado strikes annually.
Monthly normal high and low temperatures for various Maryland cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Hagerstown 38/21 42/23 52/31 63/41 74/51 82/60 86/64 84/62 77/55 66/43 54/35 43/27
Frederick 41/25 46/27 56/35 67/44 77/54 85/62 89/67 87/66 80/59 68/47 57/38 46/30
Baltimore 44/29 47/31 57/39 68/48 77/58 86/68 91/73 88/71 81/64 70/52 59/42 49/33
Ocean City 44/28 46/30 53/35 61/44 70/53 79/62 84/67 83/67 78/62 68/51 58/41 49/32

Flora and fauna

The 2003 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the state of Maryland
As is typical of states on the East Coast, Maryland's plant life is abundant and healthy. A good dose of annual precipitation helps to support many types of plants, including seagrass and various reeds at the smaller end of the spectrum to the gigantic Wye Oakmarker, a huge example of White oak, the state tree, which can grow in excess of tall. Maryland also possesses an abundance of pines and maples among its endemic tree life. Many foreign species are cultivated in the state, some as ornamentals, others as novelty species. Included among these are the Crape Myrtle, Italian Cypress, live oak in the warmer parts of the state, and even hardy palm trees in the warmer central and eastern parts of the state. USDA plant hardiness zones in the state range from Zone 5 in the extreme western part of the state to 6 and 7 in the central part, and Zone 8 around the southern part of the coast, the bay area, and most of metropolitan Baltimore. Invasive plant species, such as kudzu, tree of heaven, multiflora rose, and Japanese stiltgrass, choke out growth of endemic plant life. Maryland's state flower, the Black-eyed Susan, grows in abundance in wild flower groups throughout the state. The state insect, the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly, is not common as it is near the southern edge of its range. 435 species of bird have been reported from Maryland.

The state harbors a great number of deer, particularly in the woody and mountainous west of the state, and overpopulation can become a problem from year-to-year. The Chesapeake Bay provides the state with its huge cash crop of blue crabs, rockfish, and numerous seabirds. Mammals can be found ranging from the mountains in the west to the central areas and include bears, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, and Otters. Maryland is famous for its population of rare wild horses found on Assateaguemarker island. Every year an event occurs during which members of the horse population are captured and waded across a shallow bay to Chincoteague, Virginiamarker. This conservation technique ensures the tiny island is not overrun by the horses. Another purebred animal from Maryland is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog, which was bred specifically for water sports, hunting and search and rescue in the Chesapeake area. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was also the first breed recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1878. Maryland's reptile and amphibian population is led by the Diamondback Terrapin turtle, which was adopted as the mascot of University of Marylandmarker. The state also hosts the Baltimore Oriole, which is the official state bird and mascot of the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles.

Lawns in Maryland carry a variety of species, mostly due to its location in the Transition Zone for lawngrasses. The western part of the state is cold enough to support Kentucky Bluegrass, and Fine Fescues, which are widespread from the foothills west. The area around the Chesapeake Bay is usually turfed with transition species such as Zoysia, Tall fescue, and Bermudagrass. St. Augustine grass can be grown in the parts of the state that are in Zone 8.

Environmental awareness

Maryland is one of the most environmentally friendly states in the country. In 2007, rated Maryland as the fifth "Greenest" state in the country behind three of the Pacific States and Vermont. Maryland ranks 40th in total energy consumption nationwide, and it managed less toxic waste per capita than all but six states in 2005. In April 2007 Maryland joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a regional initiative formed by all of the Northeastern states, Washington D.C., and three Canadian provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Cecil Calvert, 1st Proprietor of the Maryland colony.

In 1629, George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore in the Irish House of Lords, fresh from his failure further north with Newfoundland'smarker Avalon colony, applied to Charles I for a new royal charter for what was to become the Province of Maryland. Calvert's interest in creating a colony derived from his Catholicism and his desire for the creation of a haven for Catholics in the new world. In addition, he was familiar with the fortunes that had been made in tobacco in Virginia, and hoped to recoup some of the financial losses he had sustained in his earlier colonial venture in Newfoundland. George Calvert died in April 1632, but a charter for "Maryland Colony" (in Latin, "Terra Maria") was granted to his son, Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, on June 20, 1632. The new colony was named in honor of Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I. The specific name given in the charter was phrased "Terra Mariae, anglice, Maryland". The English name was preferred over the Latin due in part to the undesired association of "Mariae" with the Spanish Jesuit Juan de Mariana. Leonard, Cæcilius' younger brother, was put in charge of the expedition because Cæcilius did not want to go.

To try to gain settlers, Maryland used what is known as the headright system, which originated in Jamestown. The government awarded land to people who transported colonists to Maryland.

On March 25, 1634, Lord Baltimore sent the first settlers into this area. Although most of the settlers were Protestants, Maryland soon became one of the few regions in the British Empire where Catholics held the highest positions of political authority. Maryland was also one of the key destinations of tens of thousands of British convicts. The Maryland Toleration Act of 1649 was one of the first laws that explicitly dictated religious tolerance, though toleration was limited to Trinitarian Christians.

The royal charter granted Maryland the land north of the entire length of the Potomac River up to the 40th parallel. A problem arose when Charles II granted a charter for Pennsylvaniamarker. The grant defined Pennsylvania's southern border as identical to Maryland's northern border, the 40th parallel. But the terms of the grant clearly indicate that Charles II and William Penn assumed the 40th parallel would pass close to New Castle, Delawaremarker when in fact it falls north of Philadelphiamarker, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony's capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681. A compromise proposed by Charles II in 1682, which might have resolved the issue, was undermined by Penn receiving the additional grant of what is now Delaware—which previously had been part of Maryland. The dispute remained unresolved for nearly a century, carried on by the descendants of William Penn and Lord Baltimore—the Calvert family, which controlled Maryland, and the Penn family, which controlled Pennsylvania. The conflict led to the Cresap's War (also known as the Conojocular War), a border conflict between Pennsylvania and Maryland, fought in the 1730s. Hostilities erupted in 1730 with a series of violent incidents prompted by disputes over property rights and law enforcement, and escalated through the first half of the decade, culminating in the deployment of military forces by Maryland in 1736 and by Pennsylvania in 1737. The armed phase of the conflict ended in May 1738 with the intervention of King George II, who compelled the negotiation of a cease-fire. A provisional agreement had been established in 1732. Negotiations continuing until a final agreement was signed in 1760. The agreement defined Maryland's border with what is now Delaware as well as Pennsylvania. The border between Maryland and Pennsylvania was defined as the line of latitude 15 miles south of the southernmost house of Philadelphia, a line now known as the Mason-Dixon Linemarker. Maryland's border with Delaware was based on a Transpeninsular Line and the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle.

After Virginiamarker 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 Annapolis). In 1650, the Puritans revolted against the proprietary government and set up a new government that outlawed both Catholicism and Anglicanism. In March 1654, the 2nd Lord Baltimore sent an army under the command of Governor William Stone to put down the revolt. His Roman Catholic army was decisively defeated by a Puritan army near Annapolis in what was to be known as the "Battle of the Severn".

The Puritan revolt lasted until 1658. In that year the Calvert family regained control of the colony 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 firmly established the Protestant faith in England, Catholicism was again outlawed in Maryland, until after the American Revolutionary War. Many wealthy plantation owners built chapels on their land so 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 Citymarker was the largest site of the original Maryland colony, and was the seat of the colonial government until 1708. St Mary's is now a historical site, with a small tourist center. In 1708, the seat of government was moved to Providence, which had been renamed Annapolismarker. The city was renamed in honor of Queen Anne in 1694.

Most of the English colonists arrived in Maryland as indentured servants, hiring themselves out as laborers for a fixed period to pay for their passage. In the early years the line between indentured servants and African slaves or laborers was fluid. Some Africans were allowed to earn their freedom before slavery became a lifelong status. Most of the free colored families formed in Maryland before the Revolution were descended from relationships or marriages between servant or free white women and enslaved, servant or free African or African-American men. Many such families migrated to Delaware, where land was cheaper. As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in England, more slaves were imported. The economy's growth and prosperity was based on slave labor, devoted first to the production of tobacco.

An artist's rendering of the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which inspired the composition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Maryland was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. On February 2, 1781, Maryland became the 13th state to approve the ratification of the Articles of Confederation which brought into being the United States as a united, sovereign and national state. It also became the seventh state admitted to the U.S. after ratifying the new Constitution. The following year, in December 1790, Maryland ceded land selected by President George Washington to the federal government for the creation of Washington, D.C.. The land was provided from Montgomerymarker and Prince George'smarker Counties, as well as from Fairfax Countymarker and Alexandriamarker in Virginiamarker (though the lands from Virginia were later returned through retrocession). The land provided to Washington, D.C.marker is actually "sitting" inside the state of Maryland (land that is now defunct in theory).

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

As in Virginia and Delaware, numerous planters in Maryland had freed their slaves in the twenty years after the Revolutionary War. By 1860 Maryland's free black population comprised 49.1% of the total of African Americans in the state. In addition, Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks temporarily suspended the legislature, and President Abraham Lincoln had many of its fire eaters arrested prior to its reconvening. Many historians contend that there would never have been sufficient votes for secession.

Of the 115,000 men who joined the militaries during the Civil War, 85,000, or 77%, joined the Union army. To help ensure Maryland's inclusion in the Union, President Lincoln suspended several civil liberties, including the writ of habeas corpus, an act deemed illegal by Maryland native Chief Justice Roger Taney. Lincoln ordered U.S. troops to place artillery on Federal Hillmarker to threaten the city of Baltimore, and helped ensure the election of a new pro-union governor and legislature. Lincoln went so far as to jail certain pro-South members of the state legislature at Fort McHenrymarker, including the Mayor of Baltimore, George William Brown. The grandson of Francis Scott Key was included in those jailed. The constitutionality of these actions is still debated.

Because Maryland remained in the Union, it was exempted from the anti-slavery provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation (The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states in rebellion). In 1864 the state held a constitutional convention that culminated in the passage of a new state constitution. Article 24 of that document outlawed the practice of slavery. In 1867 the state extended suffrage to non-white males.


Maryland population distribution
As of 2006, Maryland has an estimated population of 5,615,727, which is an increase of 26,128, or 0.5%, from the prior year and an increase of 319,221, or 6.0%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 189,158 people (that is 464,251 births minus 275,093 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 116,713 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 129,730 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 13,017 people.

In 2006, 645,744 were counted as foreign born, which represents mainly people from Latin America and Asia. About 4.0% are undocumented (illegal) immigrants. Maryland also has a large Korean American population. In fact, 1.7% are Korean, while as a whole, almost 6.0% are Asian.

Most of the population of Maryland lives in the central region of the state, in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area and Washington Metropolitan Area, both of which are part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. The Eastern Shore is less populous and more rural, as are the counties of western and southern Maryland.

The two counties of Western Maryland, Alleganymarker and Garrettmarker, are mountainous and sparsely populated, resembling West Virginia more than they do the rest of Maryland.

The center of population of Maryland is located on the county line between Anne Arundel Countymarker and Howard Countymarker, in the unincorporated town of Jessupmarker.


The five largest reported ancestries in Maryland are German (15.7%), Irish (11.7%), English (9%), unspecified American (5.8%), and Italian (5.1%).

African-Americans are concentrated in Baltimore Citymarker, Prince George's Countymarker, and the southern Eastern Shore. Most of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland are populated by Marylanders of British ancestry, with the Eastern Shore traditionally Methodist and the southern counties Catholic. Western and northern Maryland have large German-American populations. Italians and Poles are centered mostly in the large city of Baltimore. Jews are numerous throughout Montgomery Countymarker and in Pikesvillemarker and Owings Millsmarker northwest of Baltimore. Hispanics are numerous in Hyattsvillemarker/Langley Parkmarker, Wheaton and Gaithersburgmarker.

Maryland has one of the largest proportions of racial minorities in the country, trailing only the four minority-majority states.


Maryland was founded for the purpose of providing religious toleration of England's Roman Catholic minority. Nevertheless, Parliament later reversed that policy and discouraged the practice of Catholicism in Maryland. Due to immigration patterns, Catholics have not been a majority in Maryland since early Colonial times. Nonetheless, Catholicism is the largest single denomination in Maryland. Judaism is the largest non-Christian religion with 216,000 adherents, or 4.1% of the total population. The present religious composition of the state is shown below:

Religions in Maryland
Christian Other
Protestant 56% Roman Catholic 23% Jewish 4%
Baptist 18% Other Christian 3% Other Religions 1%
Methodist 11% Non-Religious 13%
Lutheran 6%
Other Protestant 21%

Despite the Protestant majority, Maryland has been prominent in U.S. Catholic tradition, partially because it was intended by George Calvert as a haven for English Catholics. Baltimore was the seat of the first Catholic bishop in the U.S. (1789), and Emmitsburgmarker was the home and burial place of the first American-born citizen to be canonized, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Georgetown Universitymarker, the first Catholic University, was founded in 1789 in what was then part of Maryland. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Marymarker in Baltimore was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States.


The reverse side of the Maryland quarter shows the dome of the State House in Annapolis.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maryland's gross state product in 2006 was US$257 billion. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland households are currently the wealthiest in the country, with a median household income of $68,080 which puts it ahead of New Jerseymarker and Connecticutmarker, which are second and third respectively. Two of Maryland's counties, Howard and Montgomery, are the third and seventh wealthiest counties in the nation respectively. Also, the state's poverty rate of 7.8% is the lowest in the country. Per capita personal income in 2006 was US$43,500, 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 U.S. by tonnage in 2002 (Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "Waterborne 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. The port also receives several different brands of imported motor vehicles and is the number two auto port in the U.S.

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, many educational and medical research institutions are located in the state. In fact, the various components of The 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.

Maryland has a large food-production sector. A large component of this 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.

Agriculture is an important part of the state's economy.

Maryland has large areas 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 (especially in foothill and piedmont areas) 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 are warm enough to support a tobacco cash crop zone, which has existed since early Colonial times but declined greatly after a state government buyout in the 1990s. There is also a large automated chicken-farming sector in the state's southeastern part; Salisburymarker is home to Perdue Farms. Maryland's food-processing plants 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 Pointmarker, still exists, but is pressed with foreign competition, bankruptcies, and company mergers. During World War II the Glenn L. Martin Company (now part of Lockheed Martin) airplane factory near Essex, MDmarker employed some 40,000 people.

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

Maryland imposes 5 income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 6.25% of personal income. The city of Baltimore and Maryland's 23 counties levy local "piggyback" income taxes at rates between 1.25% and 3.2% of Maryland taxable income. Local officials set the rates and the revenue is returned to the local governments quarterly. The top income tax bracket of 9.45% is the fifth highest combined state and local income tax rates in the country, behind only New York City's 11.35%, California’s 10.3%, Rhode Island’s 9.9%, and Vermont’s 9.5%. Maryland's state sales tax is 6%. All real property in Maryland is subject to the property tax. Generally, properties that are owned and used by religious, charitable, or educational organizations or property owned by the federal, state or local governments are exempt. Property tax rates vary widely. No restrictions or limitations on property taxes are imposed by the state, meaning cities and counties can set tax rates at the level they deem necessary to fund governmental services. These rates can increase, decrease or remain the same from year to year. If the proposed tax rate increases the total property tax revenues, the governing body must advertise that fact and hold a public hearing on the new tax rate. This is called the Constant Yield Tax Rate process.

Baltimore City is the eighth largest port in the nation, and was at the center of the February 2006 controversy over the Dubai Ports Worldmarker deal because it was considered to be of such strategic importance. The state as a whole is heavily industrialized, with a booming economy and influential technology centers. Its computer industries are some of the most sophisticated in the United States, and the federal government has invested heavily in the area. Maryland is home to several large military bases and scores of high level government jobs.


The Maryland Department of Transportation, headquartered in the Hanovermarker area of unincorporated Anne Arundel Countymarker, oversees transportation in the state.


Maryland, showing major cities and roads
Maryland's Interstate highways include I-95, which enters the northeast portion of the state, goes through Baltimoremarker, and becomes part of the eastern section of the Capital Beltway to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I-68 connects the western portions of the state to I-70 at the small town of Hancock. I-70 continues east to Baltimore, connecting Hagerstownmarker and Frederickmarker along the way. I-83 connects Baltimore to southern central Pennsylvania (Harrisburgmarker and York, Pennsylvaniamarker). Maryland also has a portion of I-81 that runs through the state near Hagerstown. I-97, fully contained within Anne Arundel County and the shortest one- or two-digit Interstate highway outside of Hawaii, connects the Baltimore area to the Annapolis area.

There are also several auxiliary Interstate highways in Maryland. Among them are two beltways encircling the major cities of the region: I-695, the McKeldin (Baltimore) Beltway, which encircles Baltimore; a portion of I-495, and the Capital Beltway, which encircles Washington, D.C. I-270, which connects the Frederick area with Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia through major suburbs to the northwest of Washington, is a major commuter route and is as wide as fourteen lanes at points. Both I-270 and the Capital Beltway are currently extremely congested; however, the ICC or Intercounty Connector, which began construction in November 2007, is hoped to alleviate some of the congestion over time. Construction of the ICC was a major part of the campaign platform of former Governor Robert Ehrlich, who was in office from 2003 until 2007, and of Governor Martin O'Malley, who succeeded him.

Maryland also has a state highway system that contains routes numbered from 2 through 999, however most of the higher-numbered routes are either not signed or are relatively short. Major state highways include Routes 2 (Governor Ritchie Highway/Solomons Island Road), 4 (Solomons Island Road), 5 (Branch Avenue/Leonardtown Road/Point Lookout Road), 32, 45 (York Road), 97 (Georgia Avenue), 100 (Paul T. Pitcher Memorial Highway), 210 (Indian Head Highway), 235 (Three Notch Road), 295 (Baltimore-Washington Parkway), 355, and 404.


Maryland's largest airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airportmarker (formerly known as Friendship Airport and recently renamed for Baltimore-born former and first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall). The only other airports with commercial service are at Hagerstownmarker and Salisburymarker. The Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. are also serviced by the other two airports in the region, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airportmarker and Dulles International Airportmarker, both in Northern Virginia.


Amtrak trains serve Baltimore's Penn Stationmarker, BWI Airportmarker, New Carrolltonmarker, and Aberdeen along the Northeast Corridor. In addition, train service is provided to Rockvillemarker and Cumberlandmarker on the Amtrak Capitol Limited. MARC commuter trains, operated by the State's Transit Authority, connect nearby Washington, D.C., Frederickmarker, Baltimore, and many towns between. The Washington Metromarker subway and bus system serve Montgomery County and Prince George's County. The Maryland Transit Administration's light rail and short subway system serve Baltimore City and adjacent suburbs.

Shipping Canals

Located on Maryland's Eastern Shore lies the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. It was established to connect the northern Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake Bay. Construction began in Chesapeake City, Marylandmarker.

Law and government

The Government of Maryland is conducted according to the state constitution. 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 Constitution guarantees the state a "republican form of government" 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. The Maryland General Assembly is composed of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate. Maryland's governor is unique in the United States as the office is vested with significant authority in budgeting. The legislature may not increase the governor's proposed budget expenditures. Unlike most other states, significant autonomy is granted to many of Maryland's counties.

Most of the business of government is conducted in Annapolismarker, 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.

The judicial branch of state government consists of one united District Court of Maryland that sits in every county and Baltimore City, as well as 24 Circuit Courts sitting in each County and Baltimore City, the latter being courts of general jurisdiction for all civil disputes over $30,000.00, all equitable jurisdiction and major criminal proceedings. The intermediate appellate court is known as the "Court of Special Appeals" and the state supreme court is the "Court of Appealsmarker". The appearance of the judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals is unique in that Maryland is the only state whose judges wear red robes.


Since before the Civil War, Maryland's politics have been largely controlled by the Democrats, even as the party's platform has changed considerably in that time. State politics are dominated by Baltimore and the populous suburban counties bordering Washington, D.C.marker: Montgomerymarker and Prince George'smarker. Forty-three percent of the state's population resides in these three jurisdictions, each of which contain large, traditionally Democratic voting bloc: African Americans in Baltimore and Prince George's, federal employees in Prince George's and Montgomery, and postgraduates in Montgomery. The remainder of the state, particularly Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, is more supportive of Republicans.

Maryland has supported the Democratic nominee in each of the last five presidential elections, by an average margin of 15.4%. In 1980, it was one of only six states to vote for Jimmy Carter. Maryland is often among the Democratic nominees' best states. In 1992, Bill Clinton fared better in Maryland than any other state except his home state of Arkansasmarker. In 1996, Maryland was Clinton's sixth best, in 2000 Maryland ranked fourth for Gore and in 2004 John Kerry showed his fifth best performance in Maryland.

Barack Obama won the state's 10 electoral votes in 2008 with 61.9% of the vote to John McCain's 36.5%.Both of Maryland's U.S. Senators and seven of its eight Representatives in Congress are Democrats, and Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates. The previous Governor, Robert Ehrlich, was the first Republican to be elected to that office in four decades, and after one term lost his seat to Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley, a Democrat.

U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-5), a Democrat, was elected as Majority Leader for the 110th Congress of the House of Representatives, and 111th Congress, serving in that post since January 2007. His district covers parts of Anne Arundelmarker and Prince George'smarker counties, in addition to all of Charlesmarker, Calvertmarker and St. Mary's counties in southern Maryland.

The 2006 election cycle brought no significant change in this pattern of Democratic dominance. After Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes announced that he was retiring, Democratic Congressman Benjamin Cardin defeated Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael S. Steele, with 55% of the vote, against Steele's 44%. The governorship was also a point of interest, as Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich was defeated by Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley, the Mayor of Baltimore, 53% to 46%. Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, another leading candidate for the Democratic slot, pulled out of the highly anticipated primary, announcing his withdrawal on June 22, 2006, citing clinical depression.

While Maryland is a Democratic Party stronghold, perhaps its best known political figure is a Republican – former Governor Spiro Agnew, who served as United States Vice President under Richard Nixon. He was Vice President from 1969 to 1973, when he resigned in the aftermath of revelations that he had taken bribes while he was Governor of Maryland. In late 1973, a court found Agnew guilty of violating tax laws.


Primary and secondary education

Public primary and secondary education in Maryland is overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education, which is headquartered in Baltimoremarker. The highest educational official in the state is the State Superintendent of Schools, currently Dr. Nancy Grasmick, who is appointed by the State Board of Education to a four-year term of office. The Maryland General Assembly has given the Superintendent and State Board autonomy to make educationally related decisions, limiting its own influence on the day to day functions of public education. Each county and county-equivalent in Maryland has a local Board of Education charged with running the public schools in that particular jurisdiction.

The budget for education was $5.5 billion in 2009, representing about 40% of the state's general fund.

Maryland has a broad range of private primary and secondary schools. Many of these are affiliated with various religious sects, including parochial schools of the Catholic Church, Quaker schools, Seventh-day Adventist schools, and Jewish schools. In 2003, Maryland law was changed to allow for the creation of publicly funded charter schools, although the charter schools must be approved by their local Board of Education and are not exempt from state laws on education, including collective bargaining laws.

In 2008, the state led the entire country in the percentage of students passing Advanced Placement examinations. 23.4 percent of students earned passing grades on the AP tests given in May 2008. This marks the first year that Maryland earned this honor. Three Maryland high schools (in Montgomery County) were ranked among the top 100 in the country based on these test scores.

Colleges and universities

The oldest college in Maryland, and the third oldest college in the United States, is St. John's College, founded in 1696 as King William's School. Maryland has 18 other private colleges and universities, the most prominent of which is Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876 with a grant from Baltimore entrepreneur Johns Hopkins.

The first and largest public university in the state is the University of Maryland, College Parkmarker, which was founded as the Maryland Agricultural College in 1856 and became a public land grant college in 1864. Towson Universitymarker, founded in 1866, is the state's second largest university. Baltimore is home to the Maryland Institute College of Artmarker. The majority of public universities in the state are affiliated with the University System of Maryland. Two state-funded institutions, Morgan State Universitymarker and St. Mary's College of Marylandmarker, as well as two federally funded institutions, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciencesmarker and the United States Naval Academymarker, are not affiliated with the University System of Maryland.


With two major metropolitan areas, Maryland has a number of major and minor professional sports franchises. Two National Football League teams play in Maryland, the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore and the Washington Redskins in Prince George's Countymarker. The Baltimore Orioles are the state's Major League Baseball franchise, with the Washington Nationals located nearby in Washington D.C.marker The National Hockey League's Washington Capitals and the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards formerly played in Maryland, until the construction of a Washington arena in 1997 (originally known as MCI Center, renamed Verizon Centermarker in 2006). Maryland enjoys considerable historical repute for the talented sports players of its past, including: Cal Ripken Jr. and Babe Ruth.

Other professional sports franchises in the state include five affiliated minor league baseball teams, one independent league baseball team, the Baltimore Blast indoor soccer team, two indoor football teams, and three low-level outdoor soccer teams.

The official state sport of Maryland, since 1962, is jousting; the official team sport since 2004 is lacrosse. In 2008, intending to promote physical fitness for all ages, walking became the official state exercise. Maryland is the first state with an official state exercise.

See also


  1. For those who distinguish them, Maryland is pronounced as in merry , not as in the name Mary . (Random House Dictionary)
  3. World Köppen map
  4. Precipitation Map
  5. Snowfall Map
  6. [1] NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved on October 24, 2006.
  7. Zone Hardiness Map through Prairie Frontier
  8. The History of Maryland, From its first settlement, in 1633, to the restoration, in 1660, with a copious introduction, and notes and illustrations.
  9. Invasive Species of concern in Maryland
  10. Euphydryas phaeton (Drury, 1773), Butterflies and Moths of North America
  11. [2] Maryland's Public Information Network Retrieved on 4-9-2008.
  12. Assateague Island National Seashore Wild Ponies
  13. Chesapeake Bay Retriever History
  14. Maryland Government Website – Maryland State Bird
  15. – America's Greenest States
  16. Paul Heinegg. Free African Americans in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware Accessed 15 February 2008
  17. Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619-1877, New York: Hill and Wang, 1993, pp.81-82
  18. Turner Brinton, " April-editions/060405-Wednesday/ImmigrateDebate_CNS-UMCP.html Immigration Bill Could Impact Maryland," Capital News Service, 5 April 2006. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
  19. It became a part of the District of Columbia when that city was created in the 1790s.
  20. U.S. Poverty Rate Drops; Ranks of Uninsured Grow
  21. Maryland is ranked as richest state
  22. US Poverty Rate Declines Significantly
  23. " MDOT Departments." Maryland Department of Transportation. Retrieved on March 23, 2009.
  24. [3]
  25. Steny Hoyer, Fifth Congressional District of Maryland. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved December 8, 2006 from
  26. " About MSDE." Maryland State Department of Education. Retrieved on March 22, 2009.
  27. dll/article?AID=/20080930/NEWS01/80930067 STATE SYMBOLS: Marylanders take a walk, and eat cake too. Retrieved September 30, 2008.

Further reading

  • Robert J. Brugger. Maryland, A Middle Temperament: 1634-1980 (1996)
  • Suzanne Ellery Greene Chappelle, Jean H. Baker, Dean R. Esslinger, and Whitman H. Ridgeway. Maryland: A History of its People (1986)
  • Lawrence Denton. A Southern Star for Maryland (1995)

External links

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