90 Fun & Interesting Facts About Maryland, USA

Maryland has played a prominent role in America’s history and culture. It is famous for its blue crabs and as the birthplace of the national anthem.

Find out what else Maryland is known for with these fun Maryland state facts!

General Maryland Facts

  • Maryland is in the Mid-Atlantic region on the east coast of the United States.
  • Maryland spans 12,407 mi² (32,133 km²), making it the 9th smallest state. It is slightly larger than Hawaii but smaller than West Virginia.
  • If it were a country, it would be slightly larger than Belgium.
  • Maryland is shaped like a gun. The Eastern Shore is the grip, while the Western Shore (of Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States) is the trigger. The long, skinny western portion of the state is the barrel of the gun.
  • At its skinniest point, western Maryland is only 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from north to south, so Pennsylvania and West Virginia are practically touching.
  • 16 of the 23 counties in Maryland are bordered by tidal water. Their combined length of tidal shoreline is 4,431 mi (7131 km), longer than the distance from the east to the west coast of the continental US.
The waterfront in Annapolis, with a sailboat, dock, and historic buildings in the background
Annapolis’ pretty waterfront
  • Maryland has a population of 6.2 million, making it the 19th most populous state, between Missouri and Wisconsin.
  • It is the 5th most densely populated state, with 636 people per mi2 (246 per km2). Only New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are higher.
  • The capital city of Maryland is Annapolis, located on the Western Shore facing Chesapeake Bay. With a mere population of 42,000, there are 23 cities in the state larger than it.  
  • Baltimore is by far the largest city in the state. With a population of 578,000 (metropolitan 2.8 million), it is the 30th largest city (or 20th largest metropolitan area) in the US, between Greater St. Louis (Missouri/Illinois) and Greater Charlotte (North Carolina/South Carolina).
  • The state’s second largest city is Columbia (population 106,000), not to be confused with Columbia, Illinois, Columbia, Kentucky, Columbia, Mississippi, Columbia, Missouri, Columbia, South Dakota, or Columbia, Tennessee.
Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore is the state’s largest city
  • The original inhabitants of the area were Algonquian native peoples. They named the bay Chesepiuk, the origin of the name “Chesapeake.” Today, native people make up 0.6% of Maryland’s population.
  • Residents of Maryland are called Marylanders and Marylandians.
  • Culturally, the Maryland is considered a border state between Northern/Appalachian culture and Southern culture.
  • Marylanders have a variety of English accents; between the Eastern Shore, Baltimore and Western Maryland. The Baltimore accent is called Baltimorese (sometimes written “Bawlmerese” or “Ballimorese” to mimic the accent). There are even variations within Baltimorese.
  • Just over 50% of Marylanders are non-white, the highest percentage of any east coast state.
  • Sometimes called “Little America”, Maryland is known for having terrain from all parts of the country, including sand dunes, beaches, farmland, mountains, and forests.
Horses feeding on a pasture in Maryland at sunset
A pasture in Maryland
  • Other nicknames for Maryland include “Old Line State” (after the Maryland 400 who charged the British and allowed Washington to escape to Manhattan), “Free State” (because Maryland had opposed prohibition of alcohol in 1919), and “Chesapeake Bay State.”
  • Maryland’s official motto is “Fatti maschii, parole femine”, which is Latin for “Strong deeds, gentle words”.
  • Tourism slogans have included “Maryland – Open For It”, “Capture a Maryland Memory”, and “Pretty. Close.”
  • The two-letter state abbreviation for Maryland is MD.
  • The official state cat of Maryland is the calico cat, which shares the same colors (orange, white, and black) as the state bird (Baltimore oriole) and state butterfly (Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly).
The Maryland state flag
The state flag of Maryland
  • The state’s flag bears the coat of arms of the Calvert and Crossland families, founders of Maryland. The Calvert family is represented by the gold and black. Maryland was founded by Lords Baltimore, whose family name was Calvert. The mother of George Calvert was of the Crossland family, represented by the red and white white and red colors.
  • Maryland’s state seal was taken from the family crest of Lord Baltimore. The family motto is featured in Latin “Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine” which translates to “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words”.

Random Interesting Facts About Maryland

  • Maryland was the first state to designate an official state exercise: walking.
  • Maryland is known for having some of the most unusual town names, including Accident, Funkstown, Boring, Chevy Chase, Crapo, Savage, Pittsville, and Friendsville.  
  • Annapolis was once the capital of the United States and people called it the “Athens of America.”
Wild horses on a white sand beach in Assateague State Park, Maryland
Assateague State Park
  • Fort McHenry is a star-shaped fort. It was the inspiration for the Star-Spangled Banner (the national anthem of the United States), after it successfully defended Baltimore in the War of 1812. It is the only place that is both a National Monument and a Historic Shrine.
  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad honors sites related to the famous Underground Railroad conductor who led dozens of slaves to freedom. She was featured in the 2019 film Harriet.
Aerial view of the star-shaped Fort McHenry in Maryland
Fort McHenry, the inspiration for “Star Spangled Banner”
  • The National Aquarium in Baltimore is the state’s most visited attraction, with 1.5 million visitors per year.
  • Ocean City, which occupies a long, thin spit of land on the east coast called Fenwick Island, is one of the most popular beaches on the Atlantic Coast. Like Atlantic City in New Jersey, it is famous for its long boardwalk. In summer, it becomes the state’s 2nd most populous city, after Baltimore.
  • Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland commemorates what was the single bloodiest day in American history, when over 22,000 people were killed or injured. The day was September 17, 1862, during the Civil War.  
A sandy beach with resorts of Ocean City, Maryland in background
Resorts of Ocean City
  • Hoye-Crest on Backbone Mountain, Garrett County is the highest point in Maryland, at 3,360 ft (1024 m).
  • The lowest point in the state is a natural depression at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay known as Bloody Point Hole, at 174 ft (53 m) below sea level.
  • The hottest temperature to ever be recorded in Maryland was 109°F (42.8°C) on July 10, 1936 in Cumberland and Frederick, while the coldest was -40°F (-40°C) on January 13, 1912 in Oakland.
  • The nation’s cybersecurity headquarters are located in Maryland.
  • The state is the nation’s leading supplier of blue crabs and soft shell clams.
A plate with crabcake and a salad on it
Maryland crab cake
  • Maryland is known for its crab cakes. Chesapeake Bay sells more crab cakes than hamburgers and hot dogs combined, and many tourists come to Maryland just to try them.
  • Maryland is also known for its soft shell crabs, steamed crabs, and cream of crab soup.
  • Old Bay Seasoning was originally created in Baltimore, Maryland. The seasoning is packaged in a distinctive red, blue, and yellow box. The blend of herbs is a combination of paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and celery salt.
  • Smith Island Cake, the state’s official cake, is a decadent yellow cake with chocolate frosting. The cake has been a staple since the 1800s and it should have between 8 and 12 very thin layers.
  • Another well-known local dish is the pit beef sandwich in Baltimore. It usually comes with thin strips of beef on a Kaiser roll with mayo, horse radish, and raw onion.
  • National Bohemian beer, or Natty Boh, is an iconic local beer consumed almost entirely in Baltimore only. It is now owned by Pabst.
A pit beef sandwich on a plate on top of hay
The pit beef sandwich is associated with Baltimore, Maryland
  • Maryland has the 2nd highest number of millionaires per capita in the US, after New Jersey. It also has one of the country’s lowest poverty rates, along with New Hampshire, Utah, and Hawaii.
  • Famous people from Maryland include baseball player Babe Ruth, actresses Anna Faris, Linda Hamilton, and Jada Pinkett Smith, TV show host Montel Williams, and comedian Lewis Black.
  • Swimmer Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Bands and musicians from Maryland include Good Charlotte, Toni Braxton, Frank Zappa, and Logic.
  • The famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland. He became a national speaker and leader in the movement after he escaped.
A mosaic of famous people from Maryland
Famous Marylanders Babe Ruth, Toni Braxton, Montel Williams, Michael Phelps, Good Charlotte, and Jada Pinkett Smith
  • An early version of the refrigerator was invented in Maryland by Thomas Moore in 1803, and the patent was signed by Thomas Jefferson. It was used to transport butter between counties.
  • In Maryland, it’s technically illegal for women to go through their husband’s pockets when they’re sleeping.
  • It’s against the law in Maryland to curse while behind the wheel, especially when you’re within earshot of other people.
  • There’s even an old law against taking lions to the theater in Maryland.
  • In Baltimore, fortune telling is technically against the law. You could even be put in jail for a year or fined $500, though we doubt this ever actually happens.
  • However, getting married to your first cousin or getting married at the age of 15 (with parental permission) are legal.

Historical Facts About Maryland

  • Indigenous people first entered the area of Maryland around the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago.
  • Europeans first sailed along the Maryland coast in 1498. John Smith of England first entered and explored Chesapeake Bay in 1608.
Sunset over the water on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland
Chesapeake Bay
  • George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore first applied for the Province of Maryland colony, which existed from 1632 until 1778, when it joined the other 12 colonies in revolution against England.
  • Slavery began in Maryland in 1642 and lasted for nearly 200 years before ending after the Civil War.
  • Annapolis became the capital of Maryland in 1695
  • One of oldest continuously published newspapers in the US is the Maryland Gazette, which was founded in Annapolis in 1727.
  • Baltimore was founded in 1729 as a port for shipping tobacco and grain.
  • In 1774, the nation’s first post office system was inaugurated by William Goddard in Baltimore, Maryland.
Exterior of the Maryland State House and the capitol grounds
The Maryland State House in Annapolis
  • From 1783 to 1784, Annapolis was the temporary capital of the US. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War, was ratified by Congress there.
  • In 1791, part of Maryland was donated for the creation of Washington D.C.
  • In 1794, the first yellow fever epidemic started in Baltimore.
  • After the British attacked Fort McHenry, the Star Spangled Banner was written in 1814.
Black and white portrait of Harriet Tubman
Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman
  • The first telegraph line in the world was established between Baltimore and Washington D.C. in 1844.
  • In 1850, just a year after her escape, Harriet Tubman became an Underground Railroad “conductor” and saved numerous family members and friends.
  • On September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam of the Civil War was the bloodiest day in US history.
  • In 1864, slaves were emancipated by Maryland’s State Constitution.
  • In 1867, Maryland’s present Constitution was adopted.
  • In 1876, John Hopkins University was founded in Baltimore, making it one of the oldest research universities in the country.
Grounds and buildings of John Hopkins University in Baltimore
John Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • Much of downtown Baltimore was destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.
  • In 1945, the state’s first winery, Boordy Vineyards, was opened. Today there are more than 100 in the state.
  • Maryland’s state parks were opened to people of color in 1953.
  • The desegregation of public schools began in 1955.
  • The state began an environmental program in 1985 with the purpose of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Olympic champion Michael Phelps became the first American to win eight medals in a single Olympic Games in 2004.
Dock on the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, with buildings of downtown across the water in the background
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
  • A bill was passed by the State Senate in 2012 to legalize gay marriage, while capital punishment was abolished the following year.
  • In 2020, protestors in Baltimore tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the Inner Harbor.
  • In 2022, Maryland company Novavax got approved to produce the 5th vaccine against COVID-19.