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Gettin' Ta Know Maryland

Gettin' Ta Know Maryland

The State of Maryland is a state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. According to the 2005 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland is the second wealthiest state in the United States, with a median household income of $61,592.
Maryland is classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a South-Atlantic state. It is also commonly referred to as a Mid Atlantic state. It was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, and is nicknamed the Old Line State and the Free State. Its history as a border state has led it to exhibit characteristics of both the Northern and Southern regions of the United States. As a general rule, the rural areas of Maryland- such as Southern and Eastern Maryland-are more Southern in culture while densely populated Central Maryland-areas in the Baltimore and Washington Beltway Regions-exhibit more Northern characteristics.
Maryland is a life sciences hub with over 350 biotechnology firms, making it third-largest such cluster in the nation. Institutions and agencies located throughout Maryland include University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Maryland possesses a great variety of topography, hence its nickname: "America in Miniature." It ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with water snakes and large bald cypress near the bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forest in the Piedmont Region, and mountain pine groves in the west.
Maryland is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania, on the west by West Virginia, on the north and east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginia. The mid-portion of this border is interrupted on the Maryland side by Washington, DC, which sits on land originally part of Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state, and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore. A portion of extreme western Maryland in Garrett County is drained by the Youghiogheny River, as part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, and the eastern half of Worcester County drains into Maryland's Atlantic Coastal Bays. The remainder is in the Chesapeake watershed except for a small portion of the state's northeast corner draining into the Delaware River. 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 "Bay State," a name currently used by Massachusetts.
The highest point in Maryland is Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, which is the southwest corner of Garrett County, near the border with West Virginia and near the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac. In western Maryland, about two-thirds of the way across the state, is a point at which the state is only about 1 mile wide. This geographical curiosity, which makes Maryland the narrowest state, is located near the small town of Hancock, and results from Maryland's northern and southern boundaries being marked by the Mason-Dixon Line and the north-arching Potomac River, respectively.
The Delmarva Peninsula comprises the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland, the entire state of Delaware, and the two counties that make up the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
A quirk of Maryland's geography is that the state contains no natural lakes. During the last Ice Age, glaciers did not reach as far south as Maryland, and therefore did not carve out deep natural lakes as exist in northern states. There are numerous man-made lakes, the largest being Deep Creek Lake, a reservoir in Garrett County. The lack of glacial history also accounts for Maryland's soil, which is more sandy and muddy than the rocky soils of the Northeast.
Maryland has a large food-production sector. A large component of this is commercial fishing, centered in 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 uncounted millions of overwintering waterfowl in its many wildlife refuges. While not, strictly speaking, a commercial food resource, the waterfowl support a tourism sector of sportsmen.
Maryland has large areas of fertile agricultural land in its coastal and Piedmont zones, although this land use is being encroached upon by urbanization. Agriculture is oriented to dairying 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). In addition, the southern counties of the western shoreline of Chesapeake Bay are warm enough to support a tobacco cash crop zone, which has existed since early Colonial times. There is also a large chicken-farming sector in the state; Salisbury is home to Perdue Farms.
The third component of the food producing sector is Maryland's food-processing plants, which are the most significant type of manufacturing by value in the state.
Manufacturing, while large in dollar value, is highly diversified with no sub-sector contributing over 20% of the total. Typical forms of manufacturing include electronics, computer equipment, and chemicals. The once mighty primary metals sub-sector, which at one time included what was then the largest steel factory in the world at Sparrows Point, still exists, but is pressed with foreign competition, bankruptcies, and company mergers.
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-1800s, were once a predominant natural resource. Historically, there used to be small gold-mining operations in Maryland, some surprisingly near Washington, but these no longer exist.

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