Maryland is a state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. It is comparable in size to the European country of Belgium.
According to the most recent information provided by the U.S.
Census Bureau, as of August 2007, Maryland is now the wealthiest state in the United States, with a median household income of US$65,144, ahead of New Jersey which had previously held that title.
It was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution and bears two nicknames, the Old Line State and the Free State.
Its history as a border state has led it to exhibit characteristics of both the Northern and Southern regions of the United States.
As a general rule, the rural areas of Maryland, such as Western, Southern, and Eastern Maryland, are more Southern in culture, while densely-populated Central Maryland — areas in the Baltimore and the Washington Beltway Regions — exhibit more Northern characteristics.
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 University System of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Celera Genomics, Human Genome Sciences (HGS), The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The majority of Maryland’s population is concentrated in the cities and suburbs surrounding Washington, DC and Maryland’s most populous city, Baltimore.
Historically, these cities and many others in Maryland 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, Annapolis, is one exception to this rule, lying along the Severn River close to where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
Other major population centers include suburban hubs Columbia in Howard County, Silver Spring, Rockville and Gaithersburg in Montgomery County, Frederick in Frederick County and Hagerstown in Washington County.
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 Salisbury and Ocean City on the Eastern Shore, Lexington Park and Waldorf in Southern Maryland, and Cumberland in Western Maryland.
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 water snakes and large bald cypress near the bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forest in the Piedmont Region, and mountain pine groves in the west.
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, largest freshwater estuary in the world and the largest physical feature in Maryland.
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 West Virginia and Virginia.
The mid-portion of this border is interrupted on the Maryland side by Washington, DC, which sits on land 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 exception of a portion of Garrett County 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 Massachusetts.
The highest point in Maryland is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, which is in the southwest corner of Garrett County, near the border with West Virginia and near the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac River. Maryland’s only ski area, Wisp, is located close to Backbone Mountain.
In western Maryland, about two-thirds of the way across the state, is a point at which the state is only about 1-mile (2 km) wide. This geographical curiosity, which makes Maryland the narrowest state, is located near the small town of Hancock, and results from Maryland’s northern and southern boundaries being marked by the Mason-Dixon Line and the north-arching Potomac River, respectively.
Maryland state welcome sign
Maryland state welcome sign
Portions of Maryland are included in a number of official and unofficial geographic regions.
For example, the Delmarva Peninsula comprises the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, the entire state of Delaware, and the two counties that make up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and the westernmost counties of Maryland are considered part of Appalachia.
Much of the Baltimore-Washington corridor lies in the rolling hills of the Appalachian Piedmont.
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 Lake, 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 England.
Maryland has wide array of climates for a state of its size. It depends on numerous variables, such as proximity to water, elevation, and protection from northern weather due to downslope winds.
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 (Köppen Cfa), with hot, humid summers and a short, mild to cool winter. This region includes the cities of Salisbury, Annapolis, Ocean City, and southern and eastern greater Baltimore.
Beyond this region lies the Piedmont which lies in the transition between the humid subtropical climate zone and the humid continental climate zone (Köppen Dfa), with hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters where significant snowfall and significant subfreezing temperatures are an annual occurrence.
This region includes Frederick, Hagerstown, Westminster, Gaithersburg and northern and western greater Baltimore.
Extreme western Maryland, in the higher elevations of Allegany County and Garrett County lie completely in the Humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) due to elevation (more typical of inland New England and the Midwestern U.S.) with milder summers and cold, snowy winters. Some parts of extreme western Maryland possess the cool summer Humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with summer average temperatures below 71 °F.
Precipitation in the state is very generous, as it is on most of the East Coast.
Annual rainfall ranges from 40-45 inches (1000-1150 mm) in virtually every part of the state, falling very evenly. Nearly every part of Maryland receives 3.5-4.5 inches (95-110 mm) per month of precipitation.
Snowfall varies from 9 inches (23 cm) in the coastal areas to over 100 inches (250 cm) 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 Peninsula, and the outer banks of North Carolina 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 energy. Maryland averages around 30-40 days of thunderstorms a year, and averages around 6 tornado strikes annually.
In 1629, George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore in the Irish House of Lords, fresh from his failure further north with Newfoundland’s 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, Cecilius’ younger brother was put in charge of the expedition because Cecilius 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 Potomac River and territory northward to the fortieth parallel. This proved a problem, because the northern boundary would put Philadelphia, the major city in Pennsylvania, partially within Maryland, resulting in conflict between the Calvert family, which controlled Maryland, and the Penn family, which controlled Pennsylvania.
This 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 final settlement was not achieved until 1767, when the Mason-Dixon Line was recognized as the permanent boundary between the two colonies.
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 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 City was the largest site of the original Maryland colony, and was the seat of the colonial government until 1708. St Mary’s is now an archaeological site, with a small tourist center. In 1708, the seat of government was moved to Providence, which had been renamed Annapolis.
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.
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 US after ratifying the new Constitution.
The following year, in December of 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 Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, as well as from Fairfax County and Alexandria in Virginia (though the lands from Virginia were later returned through retrocession). The land provided to Washington, D.C. 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 McHenry.
It was during this bombardment that the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key.
Despite widespread support for the Confederate States of America among many wealthy landowners, who had a vested interest in slavery, Maryland did not secede from the Union during the American Civil War.
This may be due in part to the temporary suspension of the Legislature by Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks and arrest of many of its fire eaters by President Abraham Lincoln prior to its reconvening. Many historians contend that the votes for secession would not have been there regardless of these actions. 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. He ordered US troops to place artillery on Federal Hill to directly threaten the city of Baltimore.
Lincoln also helped ensure the election of a new pro-union governor and legislature. President Lincoln even went so far as to jail certain pro-South members of the state legislature at Fort McHenry including the Mayor of Baltimore, George William Brown. Ironically, the grandson of Francis Scott Key was included in those jailed.
The Constitutionality of these actions is still a source of controversy and debate. 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).
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.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maryland’s gross state product in 2004 was US$228 billion.According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey released August 28, 2007 Maryland is currently the richest state in the country, with a median household income of $65,144 which puts it ahead of New Jersey and Connecticut, 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.
Average household income in 2002 was US$53,043, also 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, “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.
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 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.
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; Salisbury 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 Point, still exists, but is pressed with foreign competition, bankruptcies, and company mergers. During World War II the Glenn L. Martin Company (now part of Martin Marietta airplane factory near Essex, MD 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 4 income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 4.75% 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. 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 World 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.