A seaboard state, E Maryland is divided by Chesapeake Bay, which runs almost to the northern border; thus the region of Maryland called the Eastern Shore is separated from the main part of the state and is dominated by the bay. For the most part, the erratic course of the Potomac River separates the main part of Maryland from Virginia (to the south) and the long, narrow western handle from West Virginia (to the south and west). The District of Columbia cuts a rectangular indentation into the state just below the falls of the Potomac.
The main part of the state is divided by the fall line, which runs between the upper end of Chesapeake Bay and Washington, D.C.; to the north and west is the rolling Piedmont, rising to the Blue Ridge and to the Pennsylvania hills. The heavily indented shores of Chesapeake Bay fringe the land with bays and estuaries, which helped in the development of a farm economy relying on water transport. Flourishing in the mild winters and hot summers of the coastal plains are typically southern trees, such as the loblolly pine and the magnolia, while the cooler uplands have woods of black and white oak and beech. Maryland has nearly 3 million acres (l.2 million hectares) of forest land.
Annapolis, with its well-preserved Colonial architecture and 18th-century waterfront, is the capital; it is also the site of the U.S. Naval Academy. Baltimore, with a large percentage of the state's population, is the dominant metropolis. Tourists are attracted to the Antietam National Battlefield and the National Cemetery at Sharpsburg (see National Parks and Monuments, table); the Fort McHenry National Monument, near Baltimore's inner harbor; and the historic towns of Frederick and St. Marys City. Racing enthusiasts attend the annual Preakness and Pimlico Cup horse races in Baltimore. There are several military establishments, including Fort George G. Meade and Andrews Air Force Base. The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda is a government establishment. The 12,000-acre (4,856-hectare) National Agricultural Research Center is located at Beltsville.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.