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Before its coastline was explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Maryland was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans mostly by Algonquian peoples and, to a lesser degree, Iroquoian and Siouan. As one of the original Thirteen Colonies of England, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, a Catholic convert who sought to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England. In 1632, Charles I of England granted Lord Baltimore a colonial charter, naming the colony after his wife, Henrietta Maria. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who rejected Catholicism in their settlements, Lord Baltimore envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined this principle by penalizing anyone who "reproached" a fellow Marylander based on religious affiliation. Nevertheless, religious strife was common in the early years, and Catholics remained a minority, albeit in greater numbers than in any other English colony.
Although then a slave state, Maryland remained in the Union during the American Civil War, its strategic location giving it a significant role in the conflict. After the Civil War, Maryland took part in the Industrial Revolution, driven by its seaports, railroad networks, and mass immigration from Europe. Since the 1940s, the state's population has grown rapidly, to approximately six million residents, and it is among the most densely populated U.S. states. As of 2015, Maryland had the highest median household income of any state, owing in large part to its proximity to Washington, D.C., and a highly diversified economy spanning manufacturing, retail services, public administration, real estate, higher education, information technology, defense contracting, health care, and biotechnology. The state's central role in U.S. history is reflected by its hosting of some of the highest numbers of historic landmarks per capita.
Sixteen of Maryland's twenty-three counties, as well as the city of Baltimore, border the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay estuary and its many tributaries, which combined total more than 4,000 miles of shoreline. Although one of the smallest states in the U.S., it features a variety of climates and topographical features that have earned it the moniker of America in Miniature. In a similar vein, Maryland's geography, culture, and history combine elements of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Southern regions of the country.
The original capital of Maryland was St. Mary's City, on the north shore of the Potomac River, and the county surrounding it, the first erected/created in the province, was first called Augusta Carolina, after the King, and later named St. Mary's County.
Lord Baltimore's first settlers arrived in the new colony in March 1634, with his younger brother the Honorable Leonard Calvert (16061647), as first provincial Governor of Maryland. They made their first permanent settlement at St. Mary's City in what is now St. Mary's County. They purchased the site from the paramount chief of the region, who was eager to establish trade. St. Mary's became the first capital of Maryland, and remained so for 60 years until 1695. More settlers soon followed. Their tobacco crops were successful and quickly made the new colony profitable. However, given the incidence of malaria, yellow fever, and typhoid, life expectancy in Maryland was about 10 years less than in New England.
Persecution of Catholics
Maryland was founded to provide a haven for England's Roman Catholic minority.
Although Maryland was the most heavily Catholic of the English mainland colonies, the religion was still in the minority, consisting of less than 10% of the total population.
In 1642, a number of Puritans left Virginia for Maryland and founded Providence (now called Annapolis) on the western shore of the upper Chesapeake Bay. A dispute with traders from Virginia over Kent Island in the Chesapeake led to armed conflict. In 1644, William Claiborne, a Puritan, seized Kent Island while his associate, the pro-Parliament Puritan Richard Ingle, took over St. Mary's. Both used religion as a tool to gain popular support. The two years from 1644 to 1646 when Claiborne and his Puritan associates held sway were known as "The Plundering Time". They captured Jesuit priests, imprisoned them, then sent them back to England.
In 1646, Leonard Calvert returned with troops, recaptured St. Mary's City, and restored order. The House of Delegates passed the "Act concerning Religion" in 1649 granting religious liberty to all Trinitarian Christians.
In 1650, the Puritans revolted against the proprietary government. "Protestants swept the Catholics out of the legislature... and religious strife returned." The Puritans set up a new government prohibiting both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. The Puritan revolutionary government persecuted Maryland Catholics during its reign, known as the "plundering time". Mobs burned down all the original Catholic churches of southern Maryland. The Puritan rule lasted until 1658 when the Calvert family and Lord Baltimore regained proprietary control and re-enacted the Toleration Act.
After England's "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, Maryland outlawed Catholicism. In 1704, the Maryland General Assembly prohibited Catholics from operating schools, limited the corporate ownership of property to hamper religious orders from expanding or supporting themselves, and encouraged the conversion of Catholic children. The celebration of the Catholic sacraments was also officially restricted. This state of affairs lasted until after the American Revolutionary War (17751783). Wealthy Catholic planters built chapels on their land to practice their religion in relative secrecy.
Into the 18th century, individual priests and lay leaders claimed Maryland farms belonging to the Jesuits as personal property and bequeathed them in order to evade the legal restrictions on religious organizations' owning property.
The royal charter granted Maryland the land north of the Potomac River up to the 40th parallel. A problem arose when Charles II granted a charter for Pennsylvania. The grant defined Pennsylvania's southern border as identical to Maryland's northern border, the 40th parallel. But the grant indicated that Charles II and William Penn assumed the 40th parallel would pass close to New Castle, Delaware when it falls north of Philadelphia, 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 was undermined by Penn's receiving the additional grant of what is now Delaware. Penn successfully argued that the Maryland charter entitled Lord Baltimore only to unsettled lands, and Dutch settlement in Delaware predated his charter. The dispute remained unresolved for nearly a century, carried on by the descendants of William Penn and Lord Baltimorethe Calvert family, which controlled Maryland, and the Penn family, which controlled Pennsylvania.
The border dispute with Pennsylvania led to Cresap's War in the 1730s. Hostilities erupted in 1730 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 continued until a final agreement was signed in 1760. The agreement defined the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania as the line of latitude now known as the MasonDixon line. Maryland's border with Delaware was based on a Transpeninsular Line and the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle.
Most of the English colonists arrived in Maryland as indentured servants, and had to serve a several years' term as laborers to pay for their passage. In the early years, the line between indentured servants and African slaves or laborers was fluid, and white and black laborers commonly lived and worked together, and formed unions. Mixed-race children born to white mothers were considered free by the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, by which children took the social status of their mothers, a principle of slave law that was adopted throughout the colonies, following Virginia in 1662. During the colonial era, families of free people of color were formed most often by unions of white women and African men.
Many of the free black families migrated to Delaware, where land was cheaper. As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in England, planters in Maryland imported thousands more slaves and racial caste lines hardened. The economy's growth and prosperity were based on slave labor, devoted first to the production of tobacco as the commodity crop.
The National Road (U.S. Hwy 40 today) was authorized in 1817 and ran from Baltimore to St. Louisthe first federal highway. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) was the first chartered railroad in the United States. It opened its first section of track for regular operation in 1830 between Baltimore and Ellicott City, and in 1852 it became the first rail line to reach the Ohio River from the eastern seaboard.
The state remained with the Union during the Civil War, due in significant part to demographics and Federal intervention. The 1860 census, held shortly before the outbreak of the civil war, showed that 49% of Maryland's African Americans were free blacks.
Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks suspended the state legislature, and to help ensure the election of a new pro-union governor and legislature, President Abraham Lincoln had a number of its pro-slavery politicians arrested, including the Mayor of Baltimore, George William Brown; suspended several civil liberties, including habeas corpus; and ordered artillery placed on Federal Hill overlooking Baltimore. Historians debate the constitutionality of these wartime actions, and the suspension of civil liberties was later deemed illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In April 1861, Federal units and state regiments were attacked as they marched through Baltimore, sparking the Baltimore riot of 1861, the first bloodshed in the Civil War. Of the 115,000 men from Maryland who joined the military during the Civil War, 85,000, or 77%, joined the Union army, while the remainder joined the Confederate Army. The largest and most significant battle in the state was the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg. Although a tactical draw, the battle was considered a strategic Union victory and a turning point of the war.
After the war
A new state constitution in 1864 abolished slavery and Maryland was first recognized as a "Free State" in that context. Following passage of constitutional amendments that granted voting rights to freedmen, in 1867 the state extended suffrage to non-white males.
The Democratic Party rapidly regained power in the state from Republicans. Democrats replaced the Constitution of 1864 with the Constitution of 1867. Following the end of Reconstruction in 1877, Democrats devised means of disenfranchising blacks, initially by physical intimidation and voter fraud, later by constitutional amendments and laws. Blacks and immigrants, however, resisted Democratic Party disfranchisement efforts in the state. Maryland blacks were part of a biracial Republican coalition elected to state government in 18961904 and comprised 20% of the electorate.
Compared to some other states, blacks were better established both before and after the civil war. Nearly half the black population was free before the war, and some had accumulated property. Half the population lived in cities. Literacy was high among blacks and, as Democrats crafted means to exclude them, suffrage campaigns helped reach blacks and teach them how to resist. Whites did impose racial segregation in public facilities and Jim Crow laws, which effectively lasted until the passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.
The Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought political reforms. In a series of laws passed between 1892 and 1908, reformers worked for standard state-issued ballots (rather than those distributed and marked by the parties); obtained closed voting booths to prevent party workers from "assisting" voters; initiated primary elections to keep party bosses from selecting candidates; and had candidates listed without party symbols, which discouraged the illiterate from participating. These measures worked against ill-educated whites and blacks. Blacks resisted such efforts, with suffrage groups conducting voter education.
Blacks defeated three efforts to disenfranchise them, making alliances with immigrants to resist various Democratic campaigns. Disenfranchisement bills in 1905, 1907, and 1911 were rebuffed, in large part because of black opposition. Blacks comprised 20% of the electorate and immigrants comprised 15%, and the legislature had difficulty devising requirements against blacks that did not also disadvantage immigrants.
The Progressive Era also brought reforms in working conditions for Maryland's labor force. In 1902, the state regulated conditions in mines; outlawed child laborers under the age of 12; mandated compulsory school attendance; and enacted the nation's first workers' compensation law. The workers' compensation law was overturned in the courts, but was redrafted and finally enacted in 1910.
The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 burned for more than 30 hours, destroying 1,526 buildings and spanning 70 city blocks. More than 1,231 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control.
After Georgia congressman William D. Upshaw criticized Maryland openly in 1923 for not passing Prohibition laws, Baltimore Sun editor Hamilton Owens coined the "Free State" nickname for Maryland in that context, which was popularized by H. L. Mencken in a series of newspaper editorials.
Maryland's urban and rural communities had different experiences during the Great Depression. The "Bonus Army" marched through the state in 1932 on its way to Washington, D.C. Maryland instituted its first income tax in 1937 to generate revenue for schools and welfare.
Passenger and freight steamboat service, once important throughout Chesapeake Bay and its many tributary rivers, ended in 1962.
Maryland experienced population growth following World War II. Beginning in the 1960s, as suburban growth took hold around Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, the state began to take on a more mid-Atlantic culture as opposed to the traditionally Southern and Tidewater culture that previously dominated most of the state. Agricultural tracts gave way to residential communities, some of them carefully planned such as Columbia, St. Charles, and Montgomery Village. Concurrently the Interstate Highway System was built throughout the state, most notably I-95, I-695, and the Capital Beltway, altering travel patterns. In 1952, the eastern and western halves of Maryland were linked for the first time by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which replaced a nearby ferry service.
Maryland's regions experienced economic changes following WWII. Heavy manufacturing declined in Baltimore. In Maryland's four westernmost counties, industrial, railroad, and coal mining jobs declined. On the lower Eastern Shore, family farms were bought up by major concerns and large-scale poultry farms and vegetable farming became prevalent. In Southern Maryland, tobacco farming nearly vanished due to suburban development and a state tobacco buy-out program in the 1990s.
In an effort to reverse depopulation due to the loss of working-class industries, Baltimore initiated urban renewal projects in the 1960s with Charles Center and the Baltimore World Trade Center. Some resulted in the break-up of intact residential neighborhoods, producing social volatility, and some older residential areas around the harbor have had units renovated and have become popular with new populations.
Physical regions of Maryland
Maryland has an area of 12,406.68 square miles (32,133.2 km2) and is comparable in overall area with Belgium [11,787 square miles (30,530 km2)]. It is the 42nd largest and 9th smallest state and is closest in size to the state of Hawaii [10,930.98 square miles (28,311.1 km2)], the next smallest state. The next largest state, its neighbor West Virginia, is almost twice the size of Maryland [24,229.76 square miles (62,754.8 km2)].
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the nation and the largest water feature in Maryland
Maryland possesses a variety of topography within its borders, contributing to 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 Chesapeake Bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forests in the Piedmont Region, and pine groves in the Maryland mountains to the west.
Most of the state's waterways are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with the exceptions of a tiny portion of extreme western 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 nickname that has been used by Massachusetts for decades.
The highest point in Maryland, with an elevation of 3,360 feet (1,020 m), is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, 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. Close to the small town of Hancock, in western Maryland, about two-thirds of the way across the state, less than 2 miles (3.2 km) separates its borders, the MasonDixon line to the north, and the northwards-arching Potomac River to the south.
Portions of Maryland are included in various official and unofficial geographic regions. For example, the Delmarva Peninsula is composed of the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, the entire state of Delaware, and the two counties that make up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, whereas the westernmost counties of Maryland are considered part of Appalachia. Much of the BaltimoreWashington corridor lies just south of the Piedmont in the Coastal Plain, though it straddles the border between the two regions.
Earthquakes in Maryland are infrequent and small due to the state's distance from seismic/earthquake zones. The M5.8 Virginia earthquake in 2011 was felt moderately throughout Maryland. Buildings in the state are not well-designed for earthquakes and can suffer damage easily.
Maryland has no natural lakes, mostly due to the lack of glacial history in the area. All lakes in the state today were constructed, mostly via dams.Buckel's Bog is believed by geologists to have been a remnant of a former natural lake.
Maryland has shale formations containing natural gas, where fracking is theoretically possible.
As is typical of states on the East Coast, Maryland's plant life is abundant and healthy. A modest volume 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 Oak, a huge example of white oak, the state tree, which can grow over 70 feet (21 m) tall.
The state harbors a considerable number of white-tailed deer, especially in the woody and mountainous west of the state, and overpopulation can become a problem. Mammals can be found ranging from the mountains in the west to the central areas and include black bears,bobcats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and otters.
There is a population of rare wild (feral) horses found on Assateague Island. They are believed to be descended from horses who escaped from Spanish galleon shipwrecks. Every year during the last week of July, they are captured and swim across a shallow bay for sale at Chincoteague, Virginia, a conservation technique which ensures the tiny island is not overrun by the horses. The ponies and their sale were popularized by the children's book, Misty of Chincoteague.
Maryland joined with neighboring states during the end of the 20th century to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The bay's aquatic life and seafood industry have been threatened by development and by fertilizer and livestock waste entering the bay.
In 2007, Forbes.com 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 the Northeastern states, Washington, D.C., and three Canadian provinces, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In March 2017, Maryland became the first state with proven gas reserves to ban fracking by passing a law against it. Vermont has such a law, but no shale gas, and New York has such a ban, though it was made by executive order.
In western Maryland, the higher elevations of Allegany and Garrett counties, including the cities of Cumberland, Frostburg, and Oakland, display more characteristics of the humid continental zone, due in part to elevation. They fall under USDA Hardiness zones 6b and below.
Precipitation in the state is characteristic of the East Coast. Annual rainfall ranges from 35 to 45 inches (890 to 1,140 mm) with more in higher elevations. Nearly every part of Maryland receives 3.54.5 inches (89114 mm) per month of rain. Average annual snowfall varies from 9 inches (23 cm) in the coastal areas to over 100 inches (250 cm) 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 provide a large buffer, such that strikes from major hurricanes (category3 or above) occur infrequently. More often, Maryland gets the remnants of a tropical system that has already come ashore and released most of its energy. Maryland averages around 3040 days of thunderstorms a year, and averages around six tornado strikes annually.
Monthly average high and low temperatures for various Maryland cities and landmarks (covering breadth and width of the state)
Map of counties in Maryland by racial plurality, per the 2020 U.S. census
Black or African American
In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Maryland's population as 17.8 percent African-American and 80.4 percent non-Hispanic White.
African Americans form a sizable portion of the state's population, 31.1% as of 2020. Most are descendants of people transported to the area as slaves from West Africa, and many are of mixed race, including European and Native American ancestry. Concentrations of African Americans live in Baltimore City, Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where many work; Charles County, western parts of Baltimore County, and the southern Eastern Shore. New residents of African descent include 20th-century and later immigrants from Nigeria, particularly of the Igbo and Yoruba tribes. Maryland also hosts populations from other African and Caribbean nations. Many immigrants from the Horn of Africa have settled in Maryland, with large communities existing in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. (particularly Montgomery County and Prince George's County), and the city of Baltimore. The Greater Washington area has the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Africa. The Ethiopian community of Greater D.C. was historically based in Washington, D.C.'s Adams Morgan and Shaw neighborhoods, but as the community has grown, many Ethiopians have settled in Silver Spring. The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is also home to large Eritrean and Somali communities.
Irish American populations can be found throughout the Baltimore area, and the Northern and Eastern suburbs of Washington, D.C., in Maryland (descendants of those who moved out to the suburbs of Washington's once predominantly Irish neighborhoods), as well as Western Maryland, where Irish immigrant laborers helped to build the B&O Railroad. Smaller but much older Irish populations can be found in Southern Maryland, with some roots dating as far back as the early Maryland colony. This population, however, still remains culturally very active and yearly festivals are held.
A large percentage of the population of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland are descendants of British American ancestry. The Eastern Shore was settled by Protestants, chiefly Methodist and the southern counties were initially settled by English Catholics. Western and northern Maryland have large German-American populations. More recent European immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century settled first in Baltimore, attracted to its industrial jobs. Many of their ethnic Italian, Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, and Greek descendants still live in the area.
Attracting educated Asians and Africans to the professional jobs in the region, Maryland has the fifth-largest proportions of racial minorities in the country.
In 2006, 645,744 were counted as foreign born, which represents mainly people from Latin America and Asia. About four percent are undocumented immigrants. Maryland also has a large Korean American population. In fact, 1.7 percent are Korean, while as a whole, 6.7 percent are Asian.
According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. census, 12,538 same-sex couples are living in Maryland, representing 5.8 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
In 2019, non-Hispanic white Americans were 49.8% of Maryland's population (White Americans, including White Hispanics, were 57.3%), which made Maryland a majority minority state. 50.2% of Maryland's population is non-white, or is Hispanic or Latino, the highest percentage of any state on the East Coast, and the highest percentage after the majority-minority states of Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Nevada. By 2031, minorities are projected to become the majority of voting eligible residents of Maryland.
Despite its historic relevance to the Catholic Church in the United States, the percentage of Catholics in the state of Maryland is below the national average of 20%. Demographically, both Protestants and those identifying with no religion are more numerous than Catholics.
Per the Public Religion Research Institute in 2020, 61 percent of Maryland's population identified with Christianity. Protestantism and Roman Catholicism continued to dominate the Christian landscape, and the Jewish community remained at 3% of the total religious population. Of the unaffiliated, the PRRI study determined their increase to 28% of the population.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maryland's gross state product in 2016 was $382.4billion. However, Maryland has been using Genuine Progress Indicator, an indicator of well-being, to guide the state's development, rather than relying only on growth indicators like GDP. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland households are currently the wealthiest in the country, with a 2013 median household income of $72,483, 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 second and eleventh wealthiest counties in the nation respectively. Maryland has the most millionaires per capita in 2013, with a ratio of 7.7 percent. Also, the state's poverty rate of 7.8 percent is the lowest in the country.Per capita personal income in 2006 was $43,500, fifth in the nation. As of March 2022, the state's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent.
Maryland's economy benefits from the state's proximity to the federal government in Washington, D.C., with an emphasis on 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. Ft. Meade serves as the headquarters of the Defense Information Systems Agency, United States Cyber Command, and the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. In addition, a number of 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 percent of Maryland's labor force, attributable in part to nearby Maryland being a part of the Washington Metro Area where the federal government office employment is relatively high.
Manufacturing, while large in dollar value, is highly diversified with no sub-sector contributing over 20 percent of the total. Typical forms of manufacturing include electronics, computer equipment, and chemicals. The once-mighty primary metals sub-sector, which once included what was then the largest steel factory in the world at Sparrows Point, still exists, but is pressed with foreign competition, bankruptcies, and mergers. During World War II the Glenn Martin Company (now part of Lockheed Martin) airplane factory 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-19th century, were once a predominant natural resource. Historically, there used to be small gold-mining operations in Maryland, some near Washington, but these no longer exist.
Port of Baltimore
One major service activity is transportation, centered on the Port of Baltimore and its related rail and trucking access. The port ranked 17th in the U.S. by tonnage in 2008. 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 brands of imported motor vehicles and is the number one auto port in the U.S.
Baltimore City is among the top 15 largest ports in the nation, and was one of six major U.S. ports that were part of the February 2006 controversy over the Dubai Ports World deal. 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 Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is a 14 miles (23 km) canal on the Eastern Shore that connects the waters of the Delaware River with those of the Chesapeake Bay, and in particular with the Port of Baltimore, carrying 40 percent of the port's ship traffic.
Maryland has a large food-production sector. A large component of this is commercial fishing, centered in the 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 overwintering waterfowl in its wildlife refuges. The waterfowl support a tourism sector of sportsmen.
Agriculture is an important part of Maryland's economy.
Maryland has large areas of fertile agricultural land in its coastal and Piedmont zones, though this land use is being encroached upon by urbanization. Agriculture is oriented to dairy farming (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). The southern counties of the western shoreline of Chesapeake Bay are warm enough to support a tobaccocash crop zone, which has existed since early Colonial times, but declined greatly after a state government buy-out 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. Farming suffers from weeds as anywhere else, including an unusual multiply resistant ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) found by Rousonelos et al., 2012 with both ALS- and PPO-resistances and which by 2016 had developed a third, EPSP resistance. This ragweed population is a drag on soybean cultivation and, as of May 7, 2022, is the worst multiresistant weed problem in the state.
Maryland is a major center for life sciences research and development. With more than 400 biotechnology companies located there, Maryland is the fourth largest nexus in this field in the United States.
Maryland has experimented with healthcare payment reforms, notably beginning in the 1970s with an all-payer rate setting program regulated by the Health Services Cost Review Commission. In 2014, it switched to a global budget revenue system, whereby hospitals receive a capitated payment to care for their population.
Maryland's Interstate highways include 110 miles (180 km) of Interstate95 (I-95), which enters the northeast portion of the state, travels through Baltimore, and becomes part of the eastern section of the Capital Beltway to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I-68 travels 81 miles (130 km), connecting the western portions of the state to I-70 at the small town of Hancock. I-70 enters from Pennsylvania north of Hancock and continues east for 93 miles (150 km) to Baltimore, connecting Hagerstown and Frederick along the way.
I-83 has 34 miles (55 km) in Maryland and connects Baltimore to southern central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg and York, Pennsylvania). Maryland also has an 11-mile (18 km) portion of I-81 that travels through the state near Hagerstown. I-97, fully contained within Anne Arundel County and the shortest (17.6 miles (28.3 km)) one- or two-digit interstate highway in the contiguous US, 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; and a portion of I-495, 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. I-895, also known as the Harbor Tunnel Thruway, provides an alternate route to I-95 across the Baltimore Harbor.
Maryland also has a state highway system that contains routes numbered from 2through 999, however most of the higher-numbered routes are either unsigned or are relatively short. Major state highways include Routes 2 (Governor Ritchie Highway/Solomons Island Road/Southern Maryland Blvd.), 4 (Pennsylvania Avenue/Southern Maryland Blvd./Patuxent Beach Road/St. Andrew's Church 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 (Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike/Frederick Road), 404 (Queen Anne Highway/ Shore Highway), and 650 (New Hampshire Avenue).
Ellicott City Station, on the original B&O Railroad line, is the oldest remaining passenger station in the nation. The rail line is still used by CSX Transportation for freight trains, and the station is now a museum.
The WMATA's Metrorailrapid transit and Metrobus local bus systems (the 2nd and 6th busiest in the nation of their respective modes) provide service in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and connect them to Washington, D.C., with the express Metrobus Route B30 serving BWI Airport. The Maryland Transit Administration (often abbreviated as "MTA Maryland"), a state agency part of the Maryland Department of Transportation also provides transit services within the state. Headquartered in Baltimore, MTA's transit services are largely focused on central Maryland, as well as some portions of the Eastern Shore and Southern MD. Baltimore's Light RailLink and Metro SubwayLink systems serve its densely populated inner-city and the surrounding suburbs. The MTA also serves the city and its suburbs with its local bus service (the 9th largest system in the nation). The MTA's Commuter Bus system provides express coach service on longer routes connecting Washington, D.C. and Baltimore to parts of Central and Southern MD as well as the Eastern Shore. The commuter rail service, known as MARC, operates three lines which all terminate at Washington Union Station and provide service to Baltimore's Penn and Camden stations, Perryville, Frederick, and Martinsburg, WV. In addition, many suburban counties operate local bus systems which connect to and complement the larger MTA and WMATA/Metro services.
The MTA will also administer the Purple Line, an under-construction light rail line that will connect the Maryland branches of the Red, Green/Yellow, and Orange lines of the Washington Metro, as well as offer transfers to all three lines of the MARC commuter rail system.
Most of the business of government is conducted in Annapolis, the state capital however some cabinet departments and state officials have their offices in Baltimore. Elections for governor and most statewide offices, as well as most county elections, are held in midterm-election years (even-numbered years not divisible by four).
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, 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 Appeals. The appearance of the judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals is unique; Maryland is the only state whose judges wear red robes.
Maryland imposes five income tax brackets, ranging from 2to 6.25 percent 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 percent 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 percent is the fifth highest combined state and local income tax rates in the country, behind New York City's 11.35 percent, California's 10.3 percent, Rhode Island's 9.9 percent, and Vermont's 9.5 percent.
Maryland's state sales tax is six percent. 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.
In 1980, Maryland was one of six states to vote for Jimmy Carter. In 1992, Bill Clinton fared better in Maryland than any other state, except his home state of Arkansas. 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. In 2008, Barack Obama won the state's 10 electoral votes with 61.9 percent of the vote, to John McCain's 36.5 percent.
In 2002, former Governor Robert Ehrlich was the first Republican to be elected to that office in four decades, and after one term, he lost his seat to Baltimore Mayor and Democrat Martin O'Malley. Ehrlich ran again for governor in 2010, losing again to O'Malley.
Voter registration and party enrollment in Maryland
The 2006 election brought no change in the 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 percent of the vote, against Steele's 44 percent.
While Republicans usually win more counties, by piling up large margins in the west and east, they are also usually swamped by the more densely populated and heavily Democratic BaltimoreWashington axis. In 2008, for instance, McCain won 17 counties to Obama's six; Obama also carried Baltimore City. While McCain won most of the western and eastern counties by margins of 2-to-1 or more, he was almost completely shut out in the larger counties surrounding Baltimore and Washington; every large county, except Anne Arundel, went for Obama.
In 2010, Republicans won control of most counties. The Democratic Party remained in control of eight county governments, including that of Baltimore.
In 2014, Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican, was elected Governor of Maryland. Hogan is the second Republican to become the Governor of Maryland since Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1969 to become vice president. In 2018, Hogan was re-elected to a second term of office. Per the Constitution of Maryland, Hogan is term-limited, and may not run for a third consecutive term in the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial election.
In February 2010, Attorney General Doug Gansler issued an opinion stating that Maryland law should honor same-sex marriages from out of state. At the time, the state Supreme Court wrote a decision upholding marriage discrimination.
On March 1, 2012, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed the freedom to marry bill into law after it passed in the state legislature. Opponents of same-sex marriage began collecting signatures to overturn the law. The law faced a referendum, as Question 6, in the November 2012 election.
A large majority (57%) of Maryland voters said they would vote to uphold the freedom to marry, with 37% saying they would vote against. This is consistent with a January 2011 Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll showing 51% support for marriage in the state.
Voters voted 52% to 48% for Question6 on November 6, 2012. Same-sex couples began marrying in Maryland on January 1, 2013.
In May 2012, Maryland's Court of Appeals ruled that the state will recognize marriages of same-sex couples who married out-of-state, no matter the outcome of the November election.
Education Week ranked Maryland #1 in its nationwide 20092013 Quality Counts reports. The College Board's 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation also ranked Maryland first. Primary and secondary education in Maryland is overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education, which is headquartered in Baltimore. The highest educational official in the state is the State Superintendent of Schools, 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 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 $5.5billion in 2009, representing about 40 percent of the state's general fund. Data from the 2017 census shows that, among large school districts, four Maryland districts are in the top six for per-pupil annual spending, exceeded only by the Boston and New York City districts.
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 by US News in 2009, based in large part on AP test scores.
Colleges and universities
Maryland has several historic and renowned private colleges and universities, the most prominent of which is Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876 with a grant from Baltimore entrepreneur Johns Hopkins.
In 1974, Maryland, along with seven other states, mainly in the South, submitted plans to desegregate its state universities; Maryland's plans were approved by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Maryland's 24 public library systems deliver public education for everyone in the state of Maryland through a curriculum that comprises three pillars: Self-Directed Education (books and materials in all formats, e-resources), Research Assistance & Instruction (individualized research assistance, classes for students of all ages), and Instructive & Enlightening Experiences (e.g., Summer Reading Clubs, author events).
^ abcWilder, Craig Steven (2016). "War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution". In Beckert, Seth; Rockman, Seth (eds.). Slavery's Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania. p. 233. ISBN978-0-8122-4841-8.
^Taylor, Owen M., History of Annapolis (1872) p. 5
Cairns, Huntington (December 1937). "History and Constitutionality of the Maryland Income Tax Law". Maryland Law Review. Legal History, Theory and Process Commons. UM Carey Law. pp. 1, 6. Retrieved August 19, 2015. ...1937 Special Session of the Maryland Legislature imposed an income tax... expenditure of public funds for the benefit of able-bodied persons whose inability to support themselves arises from the prevalence of widespread unemployment.
Therres, Glenn (Fall 2007). "Lions in our mountains The mystery of cougars in Maryland"(PDF). Wildlife and Heritage. Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original(PDF) on April 19, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2009. Historically bobcats were distributed statewide but during the post colonization period densities began to plummet. By the mid-1900s, populations had probably reached all-time lows, with remnant populations existing only in western Maryland. This prompted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to classify them as a state-listed "Species of Special Concern." During the past quarter century, occupied range and densities have increased markedly. Results from the annual Bowhunter Survey and the Hunter Mail survey have identified bobcat sightings in 14 of Maryland's 23 counties. Currently, bobcats have dual legal classification in Maryland. In addition to the Species of Special Concern designation, they are also defined as a Game Animal / Furbearer with a closed harvest season.
^"Coyotes in Maryland". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011. Coyotes were historically a western species with core populations found west of the Mississippi River. Alterations and/or elimination of competing predators during the post-European colonization period facilitated rapid range expansion into eastern North America during the 20th Century. Established populations now occur in every state and province in North America. Coyotes are a relatively new addition to local ecosystems, and were first documented in Maryland during 1972. Initial substantiated sightings occurred in Cecil, Frederick and Washington counties. Since that time population densities and occupied range have expanded incrementally and coyotes now occur statewide.
^"The South As It's [sic] Own Nation". League of the South. 2004. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008. On the other hand, areas beyond these thirteen States maintain their Southern culture to varying degrees. Much of Missouri remains basically Southern, as do parts of southern Maryland and Maryland's eastern shore.
^Beck, John; Randall, Aaron & Frandsen, Wendy (June 27, 2007). "Southern Culture: An Introduction"(PDF). Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press. pp. 1415. Retrieved May 23, 2008. Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, and Maryland slaveholding states and regions before the Civil War that did not secede from the Union are also often included as part of the South. As border states, these states always were crossroads of values and customs, and today parts of Maryland seem to have become part of the 'Northeast'.
^"Languages in Maryland"(PDF). U.S. English Foundation, Inc. Archived from the original(PDF) on January 17, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2012. Prince George's County has the highest percentage of Kru/Ibo/Yoruba speakers of any county in the nation.
^"Port of Baltimore". Automotive Logistics Buyers' Guide. Ultima Media. Archived from the original on May 25, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017. The Port of Baltimore handles more autos than any other US port.
^"Slicing education". gazette.net. The Gazette. October 30, 2009. p. A-9. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2009. As it stands, the $5.5 billion Maryland spends on education makes up about 40 percent of the general fund budget.
Davis, William Wilkins. Religion and Politics in Maryland on the Eve of the Civil War: The Letters of W. Wilkins Davis. Foreword by Charles W. Mitchell. 1988; rev. ed., Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2009.
Denton, Lawrence M. (1995). A Southern Star for Maryland. Baltimore: Publishing Concepts. ISBN978-0-9635159-3-3.