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Prince George's County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland, immediately north, east, and south of Washington, DC. As of 2010, it has a population of 863,420 and is the wealthiest African-American majority county in the nation.
The county was named for Prince George of Denmark (1653–1708), husband of Queen Anne of Great Britain and brother of King Christian V of Denmark and Norway. It is frequently referred to as 'P.G.' or 'P.G. County,' an abbreviation which is viewed as pejorative by some residents.
The county is a part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. Its county seat is Upper Marlboro.
The Cretaceous Era brought dinosaurs to the area which left a number of fossils, now preserved in a 7.5-acre (3.0 ha) park in Laurel. The site, which among other finds has yielded fossilized teeth from Astrodon and Priconodon species, has been called the most prolific in the eastern United States.
Prince George's County was created by the Council of Maryland in the Province of Maryland in 1696 from portions of Charles, and Calvert Counties, and a portion was detached in 1748 to form Frederick County. Because Frederick County was subsequently divided to form the present Allegany, Garrett, Montgomery, and Washington counties, all of these counties in addition were derived from what had up to 1748 been Prince George's County.
During the War of 1812, the British marched through the county by way of Bladensburg to burn the White House. On their return, they kidnapped a prominent doctor, William Beanes. Lawyer, Francis Scott Key was asked to negotiate for his release, which resulted in his writing the Star Spangled Banner.
In April 1865, John Wilkes Booth made his escape through Prince George's County after shooting President Abraham Lincoln. He was on his way to Virginia.
Since much of the southern part of the county was tobacco farms that were worked by slaves, there was a high population of African Americans who unsuccessfully attempted to become part of Maryland politics in the late 19th century. The population of African Americans declined during the first half of the 20th century, but was renewed to over 50% in the early 1990s when the county again became majority African American. The first African American County Executive was Wayne K. Curry, elected in 1994.
On July 1, 1997, the Prince George's County section of the city of Takoma Park, Maryland, which straddled the boundary between Prince George's and Montgomery counties, was transferred to Montgomery County. This was done after city residents voted to be under the sole jurisdiction of Montgomery County, and subsequent approval by both counties and the Maryland General Assembly. This was the first change in Prince George's County's boundaries since 1791, and the first alteration of the boundaries of any county in Maryland since the early 1900s.
The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
Prince George's County lies in the Atlantic coastal plain, and its landscape is characterized by gently rolling hills and valleys. Along its western border with Montgomery County, Adelphi, Calverton and West Laurel rise into the piedmont, exceeding 300 feet (91 m) in elevation. According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 498.45 square miles (1,291.0 km2), of which 485.43 square miles (1,257.3 km2) (or 97.39%) is land and 13.01 square miles (33.7 km2) (or 2.61%) is water.
The Patuxent River forms the county's eastern border with Howard, Anne Arundel, and Calvert counties.