Maryland is the ninth smallest state by size in the US, but has played a key role in the country’s history. Named after Henrietta Maria of France, it was initially known as the Province of Maryland, and has come a long way in development due to both its seaside and agricultural industries.
Initial settlers of Maryland were estimated to have come to the region around 10,000 BC. By 1000 BC it was the Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, the Nanticoke, Susquehanna, and Powhatan tribes, who took up residence. When the European explorers arrived, many of the Native Americans were wiped out by disease.
Maryland chronicles its history from 1608, when Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay and established a main English trading post there. King Charles I granted a charter to Cecilius Calvert, which was then duly named after Henrietta Maria of France. The first English settlers landed in 1632, bringing Roman Catholicism with them. In 1695, Annapolis became the capital of the state.
In the 19th century, Maryland was mired in the Civil War. Maryland was a slave state, but fought on the side of the Union. This meant that many families were divided, splitting allegiances. In fact, it was the British attempt to capture Baltimore in 1812 which prompted Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner, America's national anthem.
The seaside areas of Maryland grew rapidly, primarily fuelled by its port and the trade it brought to the city and naval industry. Baltimore and Annapolis also grew around large educational institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, St John’s College and the US Naval Academy. The rural areas of Maryland grew around their vast agricultural industry.
Agriculture still remains an important part of the economy, but tourism has become just as important. The Chesapeake Bay attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy the history, the outdoors and delectable seafood.
Maryland’s geographic location means that its culture is a mix of northern and southern American. The cities still bear colonial influences, in particular in their architecture. Maryland is home to many beautiful natural parks and the state has worked hard to preserve these. Locals take pride in the Assateague Island National Seashore and Dans Mountain Wildlife Management Area, major tourist attractions.