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Maryland is a state of the United States, one of the South Atlantic States. 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. See: Annapolis Convention.



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, Cćcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, on June 20, 1632. The new colony was named in honour of Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I.

The English colony of Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore who on March 25, 1634 led 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.

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.

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 archaelogical site, with a small tourist center.

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

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 writen by Francis Scott Key.

Despite popular support for the cause of the Confederate States of America, Maryland did not secede during the United States Civil War, in part due to precautions taken by the government in Washington, D.C.. Because of this it was not included under the Emancipation Proclamation. 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 not, however, extended to non-white males until 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.

Geography and climate


See: List of Maryland counties, List of Maryland rivers

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 solid 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.


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: US 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 nets.

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 are 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-1800's. Historically, there used to be small gold mining operations in Maryland, some surprisingly near Washington, but these no longer exist.

Military facilities


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.

Maryland's main airport is Baltimore-Washington International Airport (formerly known as Friendship Airport). The Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. are also serviced by the other two airports in the region, Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, both in Virginia.

Amtrak Trains serve Baltimore along the Northeast Corridor. MARC trains, operated by the State's Transit Authority, connect nearby Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and other towns.


As of 2003, the state's population was 5,508,909. Most of the people live in the central region of Maryland, 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.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The five largest ancestries in Maryland are: African American (27.9%), German (15.7%), Irish (11.7%), English (9%), American (5.8%).


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. Therefore, 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 in the table below:

  • Protestant – 58%
  • Roman Catholic – 25%
  • Other Christian – 2%
  • Other Religions – 4%
  • Non-Religious – 8%

The three largest Protestant denominations in Maryland are: Baptist (17% of the total state population), Methodist (14%), Lutheran (6%).

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.

See also:Places in Maryland Ranked by Per Capita Income

Important cities and towns

For a more exhaustive list, see List of cities in Maryland


Famous Marylanders

See List of people from Maryland


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Miscellaneous information

External links

Last updated: 10-23-2005 16:42:05
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