Geography and Landforms:

The Chesapeake Bay divides Maryland into two sections -the Eastern Shore and the Western Shore. The state is made up of 5 distinct land regions.

The Atlantic Coastal Plain covers all of the Western Shore and part of the Eastern Shore. It is a flat area that rises gradually to a height of 400 feet to the west. Along the Chesapeake, the Plain has many indented shorelines, small bays, and estuaries.

A region of rolling hills and fertile valleys, known as the Piedmont, lies to the north and west. It is a 50-mile wide area that rises to meet the narrow, mountainous Blue Ridge region.

Within Maryland, The Appalachian Mountain and Valley region separates Pennsylvania from West Virginia. At its narrowest point, this strip of land measures less than 2 miles from north to south.

To the extreme west, the Appalachian Plateau contains Maryland's highest point, Backbone Mountain, which is 3,360 feet above sea level. The Allegheny Mountains make up a large part of this heavily forested area.


In 1608, Captain John Smith of the Virginia Colony sailed north into the Chesapeake Bay and wrote the first description of the land that became Maryland. The first permanent settlement was made in 1631 when William Claiborne of the Virginia colony established a trading post on Kent Island.

One year later, King Charles II of England granted a charter to George Calvert - the first Lord Baltimore - giving him rights to this region. It was named "Maryland" in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria, Charles' wife. Calvert died before the charter could be signed, so his son Cecilius - the Second Lord Baltimore - received the land instead. Cecilius began to develop Maryland as a settlement for his fellow persecuted Catholics. In 1634, two ships filled with settlers arrived and established the town of St. Mary's near the southern tip of the western shore of Maryland.

Lord Baltimore hoped that people of all faiths would find religious freedom in his Maryland Colony. To ensure this, he drafted a law guaranteeing religious tolerance that was passed by the colonial assembly. Gradually, groups of Puritans began fleeing from other colonies to Maryland. The colony became known for its policy of religious tolerance.

As the numbers of Puritans grew within the colony, so did religious conflict. In 1654, Lord Baltimore's government was overthrown by a group of Protestants led by William Claiborne. Claiborne controlled the colony for four years. By order of the British Crown, Maryland was returned to Lord Baltimore in 1648, but many Protestants within the colony resented his Roman Catholic influence. In 1689, another group of Protestants seized control, demanding that England take over the governing of the colony. English rule of the colony began in 1691.

In 1715, control of the Maryland colony fell into the hands of the Calvert family and the fourth Lord Baltimore - a Protestant. The colony remained under control of the Calverts until the Revolutionary War.

A dispute over Maryland's northern boundary with Pennsylvania was put to rest in 1767 when both colonies agreed to accept the survey results of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. The boundary between the two states became known as the Mason-Dixon Line.

Most Marylanders supported the colonial resistance to the high taxation and severe trade restrictions imposed by Great Britain. To show their displeasure, a group of Maryland patriots even burned a ship filled with British tea in the Annapolis harbor.

The Revolutionary War began in April of 1775. Although very little fighting occurred within the state, Maryland supplied the continental army with ships and cannons. The colony voted in favor of Independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Maryland became the seventh state in on April 28, 1788 and offered to give a portion of its land for the new national capital - the District of Columbia - in 1791.

Several battles in the War of 1812 occurred on Maryland soil. The most famous battle took place when the British attacked Baltimore and Fort McHenry. This battle was immortalized in The Star-Spangled Banner - written by Francis Scott Key.

Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies, but its loyalties were divided during the Civil War. Maryland was a slave state, and many of its wealthy plantation owners aligned themselves with Southern sympathies. The industrialists and businessmen supported the Union view. Despite the internal conflicts, the state remained a member of the Union even though many of its citizens fought on both sides of the conflict.

The Civil War began in 1861. General Lee's forces invaded Maryland in 1862 and clashed with Union forces at Antietam, leading to the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War. In 1864, Maryland adopted a constitution that abolished slavery and instituted severe penalties for Marylanders who supported the Confederate cause.


The Atlantic coastal waters and Chesapeake Bay provide Maryland with a busy fishing industry. The state's annual catch of crabs is the largest in the United States. Aquaculture, or fish farming, is important to Maryland's economy. Aquafarms within the state produce striped bass, catfish, tilapia, and shellfish as well as ornamental fish and aquatic plants.

Manufacturing provides a major income for the state. Maryland's products include electrical and electronic machinery, food, and transportation equipment. Tourism, printing and publishing, and biotechnology are also important industries.

The federal government in neighboring Washington, DC employs many Marylanders. Service industries, insurance, and real estate also provide many jobs within the state.

Agriculture still plays a significant role in Maryland's economy. The state produces livestock (especially chickens) dairy products, greenhouse items, corn, hay, tobacco, and soybeans.

First Inhabitants:

Several tribes of Algonkian Indians once inhabited the region now known as the state of Maryland. They included the Choptank, Nanticoke, Patuxent, Portobago, and Wicomico tribes.

These Native Americans lived in permanent communities where corn, beans, and squash were raised. They also hunted, fished, and harvested native plants to supplement their farming. Their homes, called longhouses, were usually located along the region's rivers and streams.

Most of the tribal communities left the area as European settlers arrived in the 17th century. But these early inhabitants gave their names to many of Maryland's rivers, towns, and counties.

Books Related To Maryland

12 Things to Do before You Crash and Burn - James Proimos
(978-1596435957) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 540, ESL level: 3
James Hercules goes through a check-list of 12 desired accomplishments as he visits his uncle in Baltimore after his famous but useless father dies.

A Face First - Priscilla Cummings
(978-0142302477) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3
Kelley's severe facial burns and the resulting medical treatments cause her to retreat from her school mates.

B is for Blue Crab: A Maryland Alphabet - Shirley Menendez
(978-1585361601) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 1 - 2
This book features all the things that are special about the state of Maryland.

The Civil War Totally Made Up Diary of Amanda MacLeish - Claudia Mills
(978-0374376963) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3
Amanda writes her diary from the persona of a girl of her age who was living through the Civil War when she has to find distance from her personal problems.

Clara and the Bookwagon - Nancy Smiler Levinson
(978-0064441346) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-3, Lexile: 290, ESL level: 2
Clara's rural life improves when a horse-drawn traveling library comes to her small community.

Dangerously Alice - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
(978-0689870958) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-10, Lexile: 820, ESL level: 4
Alice experiments with socially acceptable but dangerous behaviors during her junior year in high school when everything in her life seems turned upside down.

Jake - Audrey Couloumbis
(978-0375856303) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, ESL level: 2 - 3
Jake's grandfather comes to take care of him after the boy's mother breaks her leg.

Promises to the Dead - Mary Downing Hahn
(978-0547258386) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 850, ESL level: 3
Jesse leaves the safety of his own home so that he can assist a young slave who is fleeing his imprisonment in the South during the years of the Civil War in the U.S.

Red Kayak - Priscilla Cummings
(978-0312371326) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 800, ESL level: 3 - 4
Brady and his best buddies suffer the ultimate friendship test when a child dies after Brady drills holes in the child's kayak; the moral dilemma of whether the friends should reveal the truth makes for an enticing read.

Shakespeare's Secret - Elise Broach
(978-0312371326) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-9, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3
Hero's life improves, despite her classical name, when she gets involved in solving the mystery of a missing diamond rumored to be in her new house.

The Trouble with Mark Hopper - Elissa Brent Weissman
(525-420673) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 800, ESL level: 3 - 4
Mark Hopper meets Mark Hopper, a similar-looking boy of the same age but with a different outlook when they get teamed up for study in middle school.

Famous Citizens:

John Wilkes Booth
Born near Bel Air, Maryland, John Wilkes Booth was a prominent actor of mid-19th century America. But he gained the infamous title of assassin when he killed the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC on April 14, 1865.

Matthew Hanson
Matthew Hanson, one of the world's greatest explorers, was born in Charles City, Maryland. Arctic explorer Robert W. Peary hired Hanson as a personal assistant in 1888. Together they made many expeditions to the Arctic, eventually becoming the first people to reach the North Pole in 1909.

Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick, Maryland. During the war of 1812, while on a ship in the Baltimore harbor, he witnessed the British attack on the city and the bombardment of Fort McHenry. The valiant defense of Fort McHenry by American forces moved him to write a poem which later became our national anthem in 1931: "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair, novelist, essayist, playwright, and short story writer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He is best known for his novel The Jungle which exposed the appalling conditions in the meat packing plants of Chicago. The book launched a government investigation, changed the food laws in America, and eventually led to led to implementation of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester City, Maryland around 1820. At the age of thirty, Tubman escaped but returned frequently to the South, risking her own life to rescue others. During a 10-year span, she is believed to have escorted approximately 300 slaves to freedom in the North.

Capital: Annapolis
Entered Union: April 28, 1788
Population: 5,976,407
Area 12,407
Bird Baltimore Oriole
Flower Black-eyed Susan
Nickname: Old Line State
Governor Larry Hogan

Places to Visit in Maryland: (Click the links to learn more.)

Historic Ships in Baltimore - Baltimore
Offering a wide range of educational programs, the collection features the US Sloop-of-War Constellation, the US Submarine Torsk, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, and the Lightship Chesapeake exhibit of life at sea from the mid-19th century to the mid-1980's. While there visit the neighboring Maryland Science Center and the National Aquarium.

Historic St. Mary's City - St. Mary's City
This outdoor museum of archeology and history is the site of the fourth permanent settlement in British North America and Maryland's first capital. Explore the lives of Maryland's first citizens in Lord Baltimore's seventeenth-century capital.

Clara Barton National Historic Site - Glen Echo
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, used this house not only as a home but also as her headquarters for the Red Cross and a warehouse for disaster relief supplies. From this house, she organized and directed American Red Cross relief efforts for victims of natural disasters and war.

The Walters Art Museum - Baltimore
Explore 55 centuries of art and more than 30,000 objects including works by Monet and Raphael, ancient Greek and Roman treasures, medieval manuscripts, and delicate Asian ceramics. A variety of exhibits, programs, and events for the entire family are offered throughout the entire year.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad - Cumberland
Ride a vintage steam or diesel engine and enjoy the beauty of the Western Maryland mountains between Cumberland and Frostburg. Special excursions are also available.