Maryland started as one of the oldest settlements in the New World. It later went on to stand among the founding states of the USA. Today, it makes up one of the most important US states, so iconic it even has the nickname of America in Miniature. This and more with these 50 Maryland facts!
- Maryland covers an estimated area of around 33,000 km².
- Water makes up an estimated 7000 km² of Maryland or around 21% of its total area.
- An estimated 6.19 million people live in the state today.
- This gives the state a population density of around 238 people for every km².
- At its lowest point on the Atlantic Ocean, Maryland has an average elevation of sea level.
- Native Americans lived in Maryland long before the Europeans arrived.
- European explorers first arrived in Maryland during the 16th century.
- The first proper colony in Maryland dates to 1632.
- Maryland stood among the 13 Colonies which declared independence from England in 1776.
- Maryland later donated the land that Washington D.C. now stands on.
- The state stayed loyal to the Union in the American Civil War despite supporting slavery.
- Maryland also became one of the first American states to go through the Industrial Revolution.
- The state later opposed Prohibition during the 1920s.
- Maryland’s population boomed from the 1940s until the 1960s.
- A population decline in the state in the 1960s led to large-scale urban renewal programs.
- Maryland keeps its capital at Annapolis.
- Baltimore remains the state’s biggest city, however.
- The state belongs to the USA’s Eastern Time Zone, or GMT-5.
- The state motto comes in Latin, “fatti maschii, parole femine”, or “strong deeds, gentle words”.
- Maryland has the second-highest income rating out of any of the US states.
Maryland has the distinction of various nicknames.
In particular, Marylanders especially take pride in the nickname of the Old Line State. This references the First Maryland Regiment from the American Revolution, which numbered only 400 men. During the Battle of Long Island, those 400 men with no cannons of their own repeatedly charged 2,000 British troops backed by at least two cannons. This led to the death of all 400 Marylander troops, but their sacrifice allowed George Washington and his Continental Army to safely retreat.
Washington himself later lamented how the Continental Army would have to do without its 400 bravest troops. Other nicknames include the Free State, referencing Maryland’s abolition of slavery in 1864, a year before the US Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery across the USA as a whole.
It also has various icons.
This includes the Baltimore oriole as the official state bird and the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly as the official state insect. Maryland also has the blue crab as its official state crustacean and the rockfish as its official state fish.
The black-eyed Susan makes up the official state flower, while three different animals make up the official state mammal. These include the Calico cat, the Chesapeake Bay retriever, and the thoroughbred horse, as the official state cat, dog, and horse, respectively.
Maryland also has an official state reptile, the diamondback terrapin, and an official state tree, the white oak. It also has an official state drink, milk, as well as an official state food, the Smith Island cake.
It even once had a state anthem.
Specifically, “Maryland my Maryland”, composed by James Randall in 1861 and made the official state anthem in 1939. This caused controversy at the time, as the song’s lyrics explicitly supported the Confederacy and called on Marylanders to fight the Union.
The song also brands US President Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant and a despot. Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth, even shouted a line from the song after killing the President, sic semper tyrannis, or thus always to tyrants. This led to repeated attempts to change the song as the state anthem from the 1970s onward. It wasn’t until May 2021 that they succeeded, with Maryland currently not having a state anthem of its own.
The state has distinctive geography.
Eastern Maryland features sand dunes as well as marshes along the shores of Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay also nearly cuts the state in two, with the part of the state east of the bay called the Eastern Shore in official sources. Most of the state’s streams and rivers flow into the bay, with only a few exceptions. These include the Youghiogheny River that feeds into the Mississippi River. Eastern Worcester County’s waterways feed directly into the Atlantic Ocean, while Northeastern Maryland’s waterways feed into the Delaware River.
The interior, though, features a rolling, hilly landscape that steadily rises into the Maryland Mountains to the west. Western and Southern Maryland have their borders defined by the Potomac River, which they share with the neighboring states of Virginia and West Virginia. Washington D.C. also stands along the state’s western border, between Maryland and Virginia.
Hoye-Crest makes up the highest point in the state.
It makes up the summit of Backbone Mountain, located in Maryland’s Garrett County, and stands just over 1 km above sea level. It takes its name from Charles Hoye, who founded the Garrett County Historical Society. The Maryland Historical Society later placed a dedicative plaque on Hoye-Crest in 1952, a year after Hoye’s death.
Today, tourists regularly visit the crest, which features a high ground view of the Potomac River to the west of the mountain. However, no road leads up to the crest, forcing visitors to take a hike through the countryside to reach it. Currently, Hoye-Crest counts as the private property of Western Pocahontas Properties, but the owners allow tourists in recognition of the site’s history.
Maryland sports a rich biodiversity.
Seagrasses and various reeds thrive along the coasts, while inland various kinds of plant life grow like the enormous white oak, which can grow up to 21 meters tall. Other plants common across the state include the crape myrtle, evergreen oak, hardy palms, Italian cypress, and southern magnolia, among others.
Animals living in the state include black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, otters, and raccoons, among others. The island of Assateague also supports a small herd of wild horses. Those horses descend from a herd that survived a Spanish shipwreck on the island centuries ago. The endangered Eastern box turtle also calls the state home, along with at least 435 different bird species.
The state also enjoys varied climates.
Eastern Maryland enjoys a humid subtropical climate, which brings hot and humid summers and mild winters. In contrast, Western Maryland has a humid continental climate bringing hot summers with cold winters. Overall, the state has an average annual temperature of around 12 degrees Celsius. That said, temperatures in summer can reach up to 42 degrees Celsius, or drop as low as 40 degrees below zero Celsius.
Rainfall per year typically averages between 900 mm and 1.1 meters, with more rain falling in the mountainous areas than in the lowlands. Snow in winter usually reaches only around 23 cm along the coasts and up to 2.5 meters in the mountains.
European settlement of the region goes back to the 17th century.
The First Baron of Baltimore, George Calvert, requested the colonial charter from King Charles I of England, only to die before the king could grant it. The king finally granted the charter in 1632, to the Second Baron of Baltimore, Cecilius Calvert.
Baron Baltimore had originally wanted to give the new colony the name Crescentia, but the king instead gave it the name Terra Mariae in Latin. Translated to English as Maryland, he did so in honor of his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria. The new colony also had its first colony St. Mary’s City, along the Potomac River, in modern St. Mary’s Country.
Today, the site makes up a historic area, featuring reconstructions of the original colonial settlement for tourism and historical purposes.
Maryland’s first colonists wanted to make it a religious refuge.
At the time, Catholics in England faced persecution over their suspected loyalty to the Pope over the King of England. This led Baron Baltimore and his allies to found the new colony as a refuge for Catholics and other persecuted minority religions. But while this gave Maryland the biggest Catholic population out of England’s colonies, Protestants still outnumbered the Catholics. Things came to a head in 1644, when Puritan settlers revolted and seized control of the colony, persecuting Catholics and other denominations.
This led Baron Baltimore’s brother Leonard to restore law and order by force of arms in 1646, before granting legal protection to all Christian denominations. The Puritans revolted again in 1650, only for Baron Baltimore to again put them down in 1658. Then came England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688, which saw Roman Catholicism banned in both England and its colonies. Religious tolerance would not return to Maryland until after the American Revolution.
Maryland and Pennsylvania once fought a war against each other.
This took place in 1730 but actually goes back to the founding of the colony. King Charles II had originally granted all lands north of the Potomac River to Maryland up to the 40th Parallel. This, however, contradicted older land grants to Pennsylvania, in particular, the land where the modern city of New Castle, Delaware, now stands.
The king eventually ruled in Pennsylvania’s favor in 1682, but Maryland continued to contest the issue. This eventually led to fighting between colonial militias starting in 1730. The fighting only ended in 1738 when King George II finally intervened to resolve the issue once and for all. The final agreement in 1740 gave the area around New Castle to Pennsylvania while fixing the border between the two colonies on what would become the Mason-Dixon Line.
Mixed descent became common in Maryland during the 18th century.
This resulted from the fact that it wasn’t only African-Americans who made up the slaves at the time. Plenty of whites from England and Europe also lived lives as slaves, usually to pay off their debts or as punishment for various crimes. And while social stigmas already existed against interracial relationships at the time, this didn’t extend to among the slaves themselves. This led to situations where slaves who finished off working their debts became free, with any mixed-race children they had also becoming free. In turn, this meant that over the 18th century, Maryland developed a large population of free colored people compared to other colonies.
Maryland made various contributions to the revolutionary cause during the American War of Independence.
We’ve mentioned the First Maryland Regiment, as well as how Maryland signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. However, those weren’t the only contributions the state made to the revolution, even if no battles actually took place in the state. The Continental Congress actually chose Baltimore as an alternative capital from 1776 to 1777, when the British threatened Philadelphia. Marylander John Hanson also served as the President of the Continental Congress from 1781 to 1782.
Annapolis later became the US capital in 1783, until Washington D.C. became the new capital in 1784. The city became where George Washington resigned command of the Continental Army at the war’s end, and where the Confederation Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris that ended the war.
Maryland gained fame during the War of 1812.
Despite the name, the war actually lasted until 1815. In 1814, British troops invading the USA from Canada attempted to attack and capture the city of Baltimore. In their way stood Fort McHenry, which refused all British demands of surrender. The British responded by using their cannons to blast the fort, aiming to either destroy it or force the defenders to surrender.
The fort held out from September 13 to 14, after which the British retreated when they ran out of gunpowder and cannonballs. Fort McHenry’s heroic stand became a major boost to American morale, which had begun to drop after failed attacks on Canada and the British burning down Washington D.C. in August. The sight of the US flag flying over the damaged fort after the battle also inspired Francis Key to compose the US national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.
Controversy erupted in Maryland during the American Civil War.
It resulted in the state’s divided loyalties, best shown by how public opinion in Maryland generally supported slavery, while at the same time condemning secession. Governor Thomas Hicks suspended the state legislature at the start of the war, to deny pro-Confederate politicians the means to influence the state.
US President Abraham Lincoln took this a step further and ordered the arrest of all pro-Confederate politicians in the state. These included the Mayor of Baltimore, George Brown. The President also suspended the right to a fair trial for anyone arrested for Confederate sympathies. He later also blackmailed Maryland during the midterm elections, when he had artillery aimed at Baltimore, as though daring the Marylanders to elect pro-Confederate leaders.
Various battles took place in Maryland during the American Civil War.
These included the Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, which went down in history as the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War. Out of 87,000 Union troops, 2,000 men died, while out of 40,000 Confederate troops, another 2,000 men died. The Union suffered another 10,000 men injured or missing, while the Confederates suffered another 8,000 men injured or missing.
The USA has never suffered as many casualties in a single day in any war it’s fought since the Battle of Antietam. Other battles fought in Maryland during the Civil War include the Battle of Monocacy in 1864. The Confederates won the battle, forcing the Union Army to retreat to Baltimore. This allowed General Lee to attack Washington D.C., only to suffer a defeat at the Battle of Fort Stevens.
The status of African-Americans in the state came under question after the war.
On one hand, Maryland had abolished slavery at the height of the war. And after the war, the US Congress granted voting rights to all citizens of the USA. But on the other hand, a large part of the white population after the war resisted the idea of voting African-Americans. With the support of the Democratic Party, white supremacists managed to use a combination of intimidation tactics, voter fraud, and even biased laws to keep African-Americans from voting.
African-Americans got around this by supporting the Republican Party, in addition to forming coalitions with other immigrants. It helped that even before the Civil War, 49% of all African-Americans in the state counted as freemen. That said, Jim Crow laws and racial segregation would persist in Maryland until the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century.
The state capital of Annapolis goes back to the 17th century.
The settlement originally had the name of Providence, the founding of which goes back to 1649. Over the following years, it had its name changed several times. First to Town at Proctor’s, followed by Town at the Severn, and then Anne Arundel’s Town. That last name referenced the wife of the Second Baron Baltimore, who ironically died shortly after the town named itself after her.
The city gained its modern name in 1694, after Princess Anne of Denmark and Norway, who later became Queen Anne of Great Britain. Annapolis stayed a small town over the 17th century. However, the expansion of the slave trade in the 18th century caused it to boom thanks to its large port. Even when the slave trade declined towards the end of the century, the city simply diversified its economy in response.
A tornado hit the city in 2021.
This took place in September 2021, as part of an outbreak of tornadoes from Mississippi to Massachusetts in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The Maryland tornado actually made a touchdown in Owensville, before making its way north-northeast to Annapolis. Along the way, it passed by Edgeway, while growing in strength.
With estimated wind speeds of around 200 kph, the tornado damaged homes and businesses across various neighborhoods in the city. Thankfully, though, no one died from getting caught in the tornado or its path. The tornado weakened while approaching US Routes 50 and 301 before finally dissipating shortly after passing both roads.
The city features various historic sites.
These include the Maryland State House, the oldest legislative building still in use in the USA. This building also served as the home of the Confederation Congress, the immediate predecessor of the US Congress, from 1783 to 1784. The building itself goes back to 1772, with work finishing in 1779. It also features the biggest wooden dome built without nails in the entire USA.
Other historic sites in the city include the United States Naval Academy, which stands on the former site of Fort Severn. The academy dates back to 1845, with an alumni list that includes not just US Navy officers, but also officers from other navies. Ironically, the US Navy’s own nemesis from WWII, Japanese Imperial Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, also studied at and graduated from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Baltimore also goes back to the 17th century.
The first 140 colonists arrived at St. Clement’s Island in 1634, with settlement on the mainland starting along the northern banks of the Potomac River. This would form the heart of what would become the modern Baltimore County. The following decades would also see armed clashes between the colonists and the Native Americans.
The settlement, though, did not truly grow until after 1729, when it expanded its port for use in the tobacco trade. Baltimore would steadily grow over the 18th century, as its economy diversified to include grain exports in addition to tobacco. It also became a major port of entry for sugar imports that came all the way south from the Caribbean Sea. Baltimore would also found the first-ever post office system in the USA in 1774.
The city of Baltimore suffered a massive fire in 1904.
The Great Baltimore Fire lasted for two days starting on February 7 and ending the next day in 1904. It started small but quickly spread out of control despite the efforts of not just Baltimore’s firefighters, but also of those neighboring cities.
By the time the fire ended, 1,500 buildings had suffered destruction. Another 1,000 buildings also suffered varying amounts of damage. The total cost of the damages amounted to an estimated $100 million. Surprisingly, though, no one died in the fire. The fire led to the US government standardizing fire equipment and procedures across the USA. It also led to improved building codes for the city.
A riot erupted in the city in 1968.
The Baltimore Riot of 1968 ironically started as a peaceful memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. It remains unclear how the memorial turned into a riot, but by five in the afternoon on April 6, rioters are rampaging in the streets. Unsurprisingly, they spared African-American businesses and properties, which more often than not sympathized with the rioters. This led the city government to declare a curfew and to suspend all sales of alcohol and weapons.
At least 6,000 men arrived from the National Guard to restore order, but by eight in the evening, Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew had to declare a state of emergency. On April 7, US President Lyndon B. Johnson had to send in federal troops to reinforce the National Guard. The federal troops stayed until April 12, after which only the National Guard remained. By April 14, the last of the rioters had either left or had gotten arrested. This led Governor Agnew to also withdraw the National Guard and rescind the state of emergency.
The city also has an infamous reputation for crime.
As of 2015, Baltimore has the second-highest homicide rate out of all US cities, at 53 homicides for every 100,000 people. The city also has the second-highest death rate from opiate abuse, with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reporting that an estimated 10% of the city’s population has a heroin addiction.
Former police officer David Simon blamed the spike in crime on the city’s decision to charge six police officers over the death of suspect Freddie Gray in police custody. According to Simon, this gave police the perception that they could get charged for even the smallest mistake. With that, police officers preferred to stay in their cars and only perform the motions of their duty.
Maryland has diverse demographics.
Whites make only a plurality of the state’s population, at an estimated 50%. African-Americans come in at second place, making up 30% of the state’s population, followed by Hispanics at 11%. Asian-Americans make up only 6% of the state’s population, while biracial or other multiethnic groups make up the remaining 3%.
Among the white population, German-Americans make up the most common ethnicity, at 15%. Irish-Americans dominate the Baltimore area, and ever since the Fall of the Soviet Union, large numbers of East European immigrants have come to Maryland. In fact, 12% of all East European immigrants in the USA live in the state today.
The same goes for the state’s religions.
The various Protestant denominations make up a small majority in the state, followed by 52% of the population. Atheists, or people who don’t identify with one religion or another, follow at 23% of the population. Roman Catholics make up 15% of the population, smaller than the federal average of 20%.
Other Christian denominations like Eastern Orthodoxy or Mormonism also have followers numbering around 1% of the state’s population each. The same goes for other religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Although, they make up a larger part of the state’s religions, followed by around 3% of Maryland’s population.
Agriculture and fishing make up large parts of the state’s economy.
Dairy makes up the main part of Maryland’s agricultural sector, along with specialty produce. These include cucumbers, muskmelons, peas, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, and watermelons. Southern Maryland also has a large tobacco industry. However, it has shrunk since the ’90s. Chicken farming also takes place across the state’s south.
Maryland’s fishing industry heavily focuses around the Chesapeake Bay, but fishing also takes places far out into the Atlantic Ocean. Common catches include blue crabs, menhaden, oysters, and striped bass. Waterfowl also flock around the bay during winter, which draws bird hunters and bird watches in large numbers to the state.
Maryland has a solid infrastructure network.
Major interstates running through the state include I-95, I-68, I-70, and I-80. The federal highways U-50 and US-301, the longest interstates in the USA, also run through Maryland. Maryland also has the USA’s oldest airport, College Park Airport. However, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) makes up the state’s biggest airport.
In addition to the BWI, Maryland’s suburbs near Washington D.C. depend on two major airports in neighboring Virginia. Specifically, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport. Amtrak also operates railway services in Maryland, linking Baltimore with Washington D.C., and features various stops between the two cities.
It also has a solid educational network.
Maryland has one of the top educational systems in the entire USA, even holding the number one spot by Education Week from 2009 to 2013. The Maryland State Board of Education oversees primary and secondary education in the state under the State Superintendent of Schools. The state’s counties also have their own Boards of Education to manage the public schools in their areas of responsibility.
Maryland’s oldest university, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, goes back to 1807. It also remains one of Maryland’s only two law schools, with the other at the University of Baltimore. However, Johns Hopkins University makes up the most prestigious center of tertiary education in the entire state.
LGBTQ rights have a long history in Maryland.
It goes back to the late 19th century, starting with the former slave William Swann. Freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War, Swann began calling himself a drag queen in the 1880s. He also became among the first to organize groups and gatherings for LGBTQ individuals in the USA, and eventually found himself arrested for it. Denied a pardon by US President Grover Cleveland, Swann continued to support legal activity for the LGBTQ community. He eventually died in 1925, after which locals burned down his house for his reputation. Maryland itself did not recognize same-sex marriages until 2012.
The state participates in various sports.
Maryland has two teams representing it in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens from Baltimore and the Washington Football Team from Landover. In major league baseball, the Baltimore Orioles represent the state. Maryland also once had a presence in the NBA, with the Baltimore Bullets, who later renamed themselves the Washington Bullets and then the Washington Wizards, relocating to Washington D.C. in the process.
Similarly, the state also had a third NFL team, the Baltimore Colts, which relocated to Indianapolis in 1984. That said, Maryland still does have a presence in the NCAA Division I, with the Maryland Terrapins. The state also remains a member of the Big Ten Conference.