Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. Maryland was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, and has three occasionally used nicknames: the Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State.
Maryland is one of the smallest states in terms of area, as well as one of the most densely populated states of the United States. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Although the state is officially claimed to be named after Queen Henrietta Maria, many historians believe Maryland was named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, by George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore prior to his death in 1632. The original intent may never be known. Maryland has the highest median household income, making it the wealthiest state in the nation.
Maryland has an area of 12,406.68 square miles (32,133.2 km2) and is comparable in overall area with the European country of Belgium (11,787 square miles (30,530 km2)). 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 km2)), the next smallest state. The next largest state, its neighbor West Virginia, is almost twice the size of Maryland (24,229.76 square miles (62,754.8 km2)).
Maryland possesses a variety of topography within its borders, contributing to its nickname America in Miniature. It ranges from sandy dunes dotted with seagrass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the Chesapeake Bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forests in the Piedmont Region, and pine groves in the mountains to the west.
Maryland is bounded on its north by Pennsylvania, on its west by West Virginia, on its east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, and on its south, across the Potomac River, by West Virginia and Virginia. The mid-portion of this border is interrupted by Washington, D.C., which sits on land originally part of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, including the town of Georgetown, Maryland, that was ceded to the Federal Government in 1790 to form the District of Columbia. (The Commonwealth of Virginia gave land south of the Potomac, including the town of Alexandria, Virginia, however Virginia retroceded its portion in 1846). The Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and the counties east of the bay are known collectively as the Eastern Shore.