Baltimore (pron.: /ˈbɒltɨmɔr/, colloquially /ˈbɔl.mɔr/) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Maryland and the 24th largest city in the country. It is located in the central area of the state along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. The independent city is often referred to as Baltimore City to distinguish it from surrounding Baltimore County.
Founded in 1729, Baltimore is the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic United States and is situated closer to Midwestern markets than any other major seaport on the East Coast. Baltimore's Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States and a major manufacturing center. After a decline in manufacturing, Baltimore shifted to a service-oriented economy, with the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University serving as the city's top two employers.
At 621,342 as of July 1, 2012, the population of Baltimore increased by 1,100 residents over the previous year ending over six decades of population loss since its peak in 1950. The Baltimore Metropolitan Area has grown steadily to approximately 2.7 million residents in 2010; the 20th largest in the country. It is a principal city in the larger Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area of approximately 8.4 million residents.
Downtown Baltimore is the economic center of Greater Baltimore and home to the city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. Within a one-mile radius of Pratt and Light streets, there are 103,000 jobs, 42,000 residents, and 18,000 students. The area ranks 8th in the country for residential density and 15th in the country for employment density. With hundreds of identified districts, Baltimore has been dubbed "a city of neighborhoods," and is commonly known as Charm City. The talents of writers Edgar Allan Poe and H.L. Mencken, musician James "Eubie" Blake, and singer Billie Holiday, as well as the city's role in the War of 1812 and Francis Scott Key's writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" have all influenced the city's historical importance.