Maryland (US: /ˈmɛrələnd/ (listen) MERR-ə-lənd, UK: /ˈmɛərɪlənd/ MAIR-il-ənd) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state’s largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary, who was the wife of King Charles I.
Maryland has an area of 12,406.68 square miles (32,133.2 km) and is comparable in overall area with Belgium (11,787 square miles (30,530 km)). 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 km)), the next smaller state. The next larger state, its neighbor West Virginia, is almost twice the size of Maryland (24,229.76 square miles (62,754.8 km)).
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Maryland was 6,042,718 on July 1, 2018, a 4.66% increase since the 2010 United States Census and a decrease of 9,459, from the prior year. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 269,166 people (that is 464,251 births minus 275,093 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 116,713 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 129,730 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 13,017 people.
The center of population of Maryland is located on the county line between Anne Arundel County and Howard County, in the unincorporated community of Jessup.
Maryland’s history as a border state has led it to exhibit characteristics of both the Northern and Southern regions of the United States. Generally, rural Western Maryland between the West Virginian Panhandle and Pennsylvania has an Appalachian culture; the Southern and Eastern Shore regions of Maryland embody a Southern culture,
while densely populated Central Maryland—radiating outward from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—has more in common with that of the Northeast.
The U.S. Census Bureau designates Maryland as one of the South Atlantic States, but it is commonly associated with the Mid-Atlantic States and/or Northeastern United States by other federal agencies, the media, and some residents.
As of 2011, 58.0 percent of Maryland’s population younger than age 1 were non-white.
Note: Births in table don’t add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
Spanish (including Spanish Creole) is the second most spoken language in Maryland, after English. The third and fourth most spoken languages are French (including Patois and Cajun) and Chinese. Other commonly spoken languages include various African languages, Korean, German, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Italian, various Asian languages, Persian, Hindi and other Indic languages, Greek and Arabic.
Most of the population of Maryland lives in the central region of the state, in the Baltimore metropolitan area and Washington metropolitan area, both of which are part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.
The majority of Maryland’s population is concentrated in the cities and suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C., as well as in and around Maryland’s most populous city, Baltimore. Historically, these and many other Maryland cities developed along the Fall Line, the line along which rivers, brooks, and streams are interrupted by rapids and/or waterfalls. Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis, is one exception to this pattern, since it lies along the banks of the Severn River, close to where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.
The Eastern Shore is less populous and more rural, as are the counties of western Maryland. The two westernmost counties of Maryland, Allegany and Garrett, are mountainous and sparsely populated, resembling West Virginia and Appalachia more than they do the rest of Maryland. Both eastern and western Maryland are, however, dotted with cities of regional importance, such as Ocean City, Princess Anne, and Salisbury on the Eastern Shore and Cumberland, Frostburg, and Hancock in Western Maryland.
Southern Maryland is still somewhat rural, but suburbanization from Washington, D.C. has encroached significantly since the 1960s; important local population centers include Lexington Park, Prince Frederick, and Waldorf.
In 1970 the 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 – nearly 30 percent in 2010. 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 DC 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.
The top reported ancestries by Maryland residents are: German (15%), Irish (11%), English (8%), American (7%), Italian (6%), and Polish (3%).
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.
Large ethnic minorities include Eastern Europeans such as Croatians, Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians. The shares of European immigrants born in Eastern Europe increased significantly between 1990 and 2010. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, many immigrants from Eastern Europe came to the United States – 12 percent of which currently reside in Maryland.
Hispanic immigrants of the later 20th century have settled in Aspen Hill, Hyattsville/Langley Park, Glenmont/Wheaton, Bladensburg, Riverdale Park, Gaithersburg, as well as Highlandtown and Greektown in East Baltimore. Salvadorans are the largest Hispanic group in Maryland. Other Hispanic groups with significant populations in the state include Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Hondurans. Though the Salvadoran population is more concentrated in the area around Washington, D.C., and the Puerto Rican population is more concentrated in the Baltimore area, all other major Hispanic groups in the state are evenly dispersed between these two areas. Maryland has one of the most diverse Hispanic populations in the country, with significant populations from various Caribbean and Central American nations.
Jews are numerous throughout Montgomery County and in Pikesville and Owings Mills northwest of Baltimore. An estimated 81,500 Jewish Americans live in Montgomery County, constituting approximately 10% of the total population.
Asian Americans are concentrated in the suburban counties surrounding Washington, D.C. and in Howard County, with Korean American and Taiwanese American communities in Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Germantown and a Filipino American community in Fort Washington. Numerous Indian Americans live across the state, especially in central Maryland. Amish/Mennonite communities are found in St. Mary’s, Garrett, and Cecil counties.
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 4.0 percent are undocumented immigrants. Maryland also has a large Korean American population. In fact, 1.7 percent are Korean, while as a whole, almost 6.0 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.
As of 2018, non-Hispanic white Americans were 50.5% of Maryland’s population (White Americans, including White Hispanics, were 58.8%), making Maryland on the verge of becoming a majority minority state. 49.5% of Maryland’s population is non-white and/or Hispanic/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. Non-Hispanic White Americans in Maryland, the majority as of 2016, are expected to become the plurality ethnic group within 5 years of 2015. After Nevada in 2016, Maryland is projected to be the next state to become majority minority due to growing African-American, Asian and Latino populations. By 2031, minorities are projected to become the majority of voting eligible residents of Maryland.
Maryland has been historically prominent to American Catholic tradition because the English colony of Maryland was intended by George Calvert as a haven for English Catholics. Baltimore was the seat of the first Catholic bishop in the U.S. (1789), and Emmitsburg was the home and burial place of the first American-born citizen to be canonized, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Georgetown University, the first Catholic University, was founded in 1789 in what was then part of Maryland. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Baltimore was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States, and the Archbishop of Baltimore is, albeit without formal primacy, the United States’ quasi-primate, and often a cardinal. Among the immigrants of the 19th and 20th century from eastern and southern Europe were many Catholics.
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 no religion are more numerous than Catholics.
According to Pew research 69 percent of Maryland’s population identifies as Christian. The largest religious groups in Maryland as of 2010 were: the Catholic Church with 837,338 adherents in Maryland, followed by non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 298,921 members, and the United Methodist Church with 238,774. The Southern Baptist Convention has 150,345 members.
Judaism is the largest non-Christian religion in Maryland with 241,000 adherents, or 4 percent of the total population.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s World Headquarters and Ahmadiyya Muslims national Headquarters is located in Silver Spring, just outside the District of Columbia.