Independent city and counties of Maryland
LocationState of Maryland
Number23 counties and 1 Independent city
Populations(Counties only): 19,303 (Kent) – 1,058,474 (Montgomery)
Areas(Counties only): 254 square miles (660 km2) (Howard) – 983 square miles (2,550 km2) (Dorchester)

There are 23 counties and one independent city in the U.S. state of Maryland. Though formally an independent city rather than a county, the City of Baltimore is considered the equal of a county for most purposes and is functionally a county-equivalent in most respects. Many of the counties in Maryland were named for relatives of the Barons Baltimore, who were the proprietors of the Maryland colony from its founding in 1634 through 1771. The Barons Baltimore were Catholic, and George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, originally intended that the colony be a haven for English Catholics, though for most of its history Maryland has had a majority of Protestants.[1]


The last new county formation in Maryland occurred when Garrett County was formed in 1872 from portions of Allegany County.[2] However, there have been numerous changes to county borders since that time, most recently when portions of the city of Takoma Park that had previously been part of Prince George's County were absorbed into Montgomery County in 1997.[3]

Outside Baltimore (which is an independent city) the county is the default unit of local government. Under Maryland law, counties exercise powers reserved in most other states at the municipal or state levels, so there is little incentive for a community to incorporate. Many of the state's most populous and economically important communities, such as Bethesda, Silver Spring, Columbia, and Towson are unincorporated and receive their municipal services from the county. In fact, there are no incorporated municipalities at all in Baltimore County or Howard County. The county-equivalent is also the provider of public schools—school districts as a separate level of government do not exist in Maryland.

The City of Baltimore generally possesses the same powers and responsibilities as the counties within the state. It is an entity nearly surrounded by but separate from the County of Baltimore, which has its county seat in Towson.

The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code, which is used by the United States government to uniquely identify states and counties, is provided with each entry.[4] Maryland's code is 24, which when combined with any county code would be written as 24XXX. The FIPS code for each county links to census data for that county.

List of counties

FIPS code[5] County seat[2][6] Est.[2][6] Origin[2] Etymology[2] Flag
Population[7] Area[6][7] Map
Allegany County 001 Cumberland 1789 Formed from part of Washington County From Lenape oolikhanna, which means "beautiful stream" 67,273 430 sq mi
(1,114 km2)
State map highlighting Allegany County
Anne Arundel County 003 Annapolis 1650 Formed from part of St. Mary's County Anne Arundell was the maiden name of the wife of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. Between 1654 and 1658 it was known as Providence County by Puritan settlers 594,582 588 sq mi
(1,523 km2)
State map highlighting Anne Arundel County
Baltimore County 005 Towson 1659 Formed from unorganized territory Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, first proprietor of the Maryland colony 844,703 682 sq mi
(1,766 km2)
State map highlighting Baltimore County
Baltimore City 510 Baltimore City 1851 Founded in 1729. Detached in 1851 from Baltimore County Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, first proprietor of the Maryland colony 565,239 92 sq mi
(238 km2)
State map highlighting Baltimore City
Calvert County 009 Prince Frederick 1654 Formed as Patuxent County from unorganized territory. Renamed Calvert County in 1658 The Calvert family; prior to 1658 it was called Patuxent County, after the Patuxent Indians, a branch of the Algonquians 94,728 345 sq mi
(894 km2)
State map highlighting Calvert County
Caroline County 011 Denton 1773 From parts of Dorchester County and Queen Anne's County Lady Caroline Eden, daughter of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore 33,593 326 sq mi
(844 km2)
State map highlighting Caroline County
Carroll County 013 Westminster 1837 From parts of Baltimore County and Frederick County Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a representative to the Continental Congress and signatory of the Declaration of Independence 176,639 452 sq mi
(1,171 km2)
State map highlighting Carroll County
Cecil County 015 Elkton 1674 From parts of Baltimore County and Kent County Cecil is an Anglicized form of the first name of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore 105,672 418 sq mi
(1,083 km2)
State map highlighting Cecil County
Charles County 017 La Plata 1658 From unorganized territory Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, second proprietor of the Maryland colony 171,973 643 sq mi
(1,665 km2)
State map highlighting Charles County
Dorchester County 019 Cambridge 1668 From unorganized territory Dorchester in Dorset, England; the Earl of Dorset was a friend of the Calvert family 32,879 983 sq mi
(2,546 km2)
State map highlighting Dorchester County
Frederick County 021 Frederick 1748 From part of Prince George's County Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore, final proprietor of the Maryland colony 293,391 667 sq mi
(1,728 km2)
State map highlighting Frederick County
Garrett County 023 Oakland 1872 From part of Allegany County John Work Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 28,423 656 sq mi
(1,699 km2)
State map highlighting Garrett County
Harford County 025 Bel Air 1773 From part of Baltimore County Henry Harford, illegitimate son of Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore 264,644 527 sq mi
(1,365 km2)
State map highlighting Harford County
Howard County 027 Ellicott City 1851 From parts of Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County John Eager Howard, an American Revolutionary War officer and governor of Maryland 336,001 254 sq mi
(658 km2)
State map highlighting Howard County
Kent County 029 Chestertown 1642 From unorganized territory The English county of Kent 19,303 414 sq mi
(1,072 km2)
State map highlighting Kent County
Montgomery County 031 Rockville 1776 From part of Frederick County Richard Montgomery, an American Revolutionary War general 1,058,474 507 sq mi
(1,313 km2)
State map highlighting Montgomery County
Prince George's County 033 Upper Marlboro 1696 From parts of Calvert County and Charles County Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain 947,430 498 sq mi
(1,290 km2)
State map highlighting Prince George's County
Queen Anne's County 035 Centreville 1706 From parts of Talbot County Anne, Queen of Great Britain 52,508 510 sq mi
(1,321 km2)
State map highlighting Queen Anne's County
Somerset County 039 Princess Anne 1666 From unorganized territory. Mary, Lady Somerset, sister-in-law of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore 24,910 611 sq mi
(1,582 km2)
State map highlighting Somerset County
St. Mary's County 037 Leonardtown 1637 From unorganized territory. Was named Potomac County between 1654 and 1658. The Virgin Mary, first county named in a colony intended to be a haven for Catholics 115,281 611 sq mi
(1,582 km2)
State map highlighting St. Mary's County
Talbot County 041 Easton 1662 From part of Kent County Grace, Lady Talbot, sister of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore 37,823 477 sq mi
(1,235 km2)
State map highlighting Talbot County
Washington County 043 Hagerstown 1776 From part of Frederick County George Washington, first President of the United States None 155,813 468 sq mi
(1,212 km2)
State map highlighting Washington County
Wicomico County 045 Salisbury 1867 From parts of Somerset County and Worcester County The Wicomico River; in Lenape, wicko mekee indicated "a place where houses are built", possibly in reference to a settlement 104,800 400 sq mi
(1,036 km2)
State map highlighting Wicomico County
Worcester County 047 Snow Hill 1742 From part of Somerset County Mary Arundell, the wife of Sir John Somerset, son of Henry Somerset, 1st Marquess of Worcester, and sister of Anne Arundell, the wife of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore 54,171 695 sq mi
(1,800 km2)
State map highlighting Worcester County

Defunct counties

County Years of existence Etymology
Old Charles County 1650–1654 King Charles I of England
Durham County 1669–1672 The English County Durham
Old Worcester County 1672–1685 Mary Arundell, the wife of Sir John Somerset, son of the 1st Marquess of Worcester,
and sister of Anne Arundell, wife of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore

See also


  1. ^ Brugger, Robert J. (1988). Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634–1980. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-3399-X.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Counties". Maryland Manual Online. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
  3. ^ Brown, Deneen (June 28, 1997). "As Unification Nears, Takoma Park Residents Still a Divided People". The Washington Post. pp. A1. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
  4. ^ "FIPS Publish 6-4". National Institute of Standards and Technology. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
  5. ^ "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Archived from the original on September 28, 2004. Retrieved February 23, 2008.
  6. ^ a b c National Association of Counties. "NACo – Find a county". Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Maryland QuickFacts". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 21, 2024.