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Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State.
It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary, who was the wife of King Charles I.
(The Commonwealth of Virginia gave land south of the Potomac, including the town of Alexandria, Virginia, however Virginia retroceded its portion in 1846).
Maryland's early settlements and population centers clustered around rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay.
Its economy was heavily plantation-based, centered mostly on the cultivation of tobacco.
Before its coastline was explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Maryland was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, mostly by the Algonquin, and to a lesser degree by the Iroquois and Sioux Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined this principle by penalizing anyone who "reproached" a fellow Marylander based on religious affiliation.
Nevertheless, religious strife was common in the early years, and Catholics remained a minority, albeit in greater numbers than in any other English colony.