Maryland is a Mid-Atlantic state that’s defined by its abundant waterways and coastlines on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Its largest city, Baltimore, has a long history as a major seaport. Fort McHenry, birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, sits at the mouth of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, home to the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center.
Governor: Larry Hogan
Maryland has an area of 12,406.68 square miles and is comparable in overall area with Belgium (11,787 square miles). It is the 42nd largest and 9th smallest state and is closest in size to the state of Hawaii (10,930.98 square miles), the next smallest state. The next largest state, its neighbor West Virginia, is almost twice the size of Maryland (24,229.76 square miles).
Physical regions of 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.
Western Maryland: known for its heavily forested mountains. A panoramic view of Deep Creek Lake and the surrounding Appalachian Mountains in Garrett County.
Great Falls on the Potomac River.
Maryland is bounded on its north by Pennsylvania, on its west by West Virginia, on its east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, and on its south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginia. The mid-portion of this border is interrupted by Washington, D.C., which sits on land that was originally part of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and including the town of Georgetown, Maryland. This land was ceded to the United States Federal Government in 1790 to form the District of Columbia. (The Commonwealth of Virginia gave land south of the Potomac, including the town of Alexandria, Virginia, however Virginia retroceded its portion in 1846). The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore.
Typical freshwater river above the tidal zone. The Patapsco River includes the famous Thomas Viaduct and is part of the Patapsco Valley State Park. Later, the river forms the Inner Harbor as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
Typical brackish tidal river. Sunset over a marsh at Cardinal Cove on the Patuxent River
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States and the largest water feature in Maryland.
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, there are 1.83 miles (2.95 km) between its borders. This geographical curiosity makes Maryland the narrowest state, bordered by the Mason–Dixon 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 Baltimore–Washington corridor lies just south of the Piedmont in the Coastal Plain, though it straddles the border between the two regions.