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As of the 2015 the population was 831,128, making it the third-most populous county in Maryland. Its county seat is in Towson, in the north-central section just north of the adjacent City of Baltimore. The name of the County was derived from the barony of the Proprietor of the Calverts' new colony in the Province of Maryland, Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, (1605-1675), and the town of "Baltimore" in County Cork, of southern coastal Ireland.
The County is increasingly part of the East Coast “megalopolis” stretching from Boston to Richmond. Baltimore County no longer includes the City of Baltimore, a maritime "port of entry" established in 1706, with the Town founded in 1729. Population reached a maximum of 959,000 in 1950, and has declined every decade since as growth expanded to a greater metropolitan area, now involving five surrounding counties in the half-century since. Although causing extensive city-county hostilities during the time of 1950s, 60's, and 70's Civil Right’s Movement, with later increasing urban social ills faced by the County's older "inner suburbs" by 1980s, an atmosphere of metro cooperation has emerged with the drawing of cross-border state assembly districts, and organization of regional government agencies and increasing state assumption of powers.
Among the county's major employers are Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center on the east side in Rossville, the Social Security Administration, which has its national headquarters on the west side in Woodlawn, and Black and Decker in Towson. During World War II, the Glenn L. Martin Company in the far eastern county of Middle River had 53,000 employees manufacturing combat airplanes and aviation equipment for the war effort and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation had more than 30,000 workers at its sprawling Sparrows Point steel mill on the waterfront peninsula, largest in the world at one time.
Of the 410,100 persons in the county's workforce as of 2009, 25% are employed in the fields of education, health, and human services, and 10% in retailing, with less than 1% in agriculture. The county is also home to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the southwestern corner of the County, between Catonsville and Arbutus, as well as home to Towson University, now the second largest college/university in the state, located north of the City at the county seat. Towson is also the home of the formerly all-woman Goucher College liberal arts school (now co-ed). The County is also home to the recently renamed Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College), expanding from a business and secretarial school to a wide curriculum. with campuses located in Stevenson and Owings Mills.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 682 square miles, of which 598 square miles is land and 83 square miles (12%) is water. It is the third-largest county in Maryland by land area. The larger portion of the terrain is undulating, with bold hills often rising to a height of 800 feet (240 m) above tide water. The highest elevation is approximately 960 feet (290 m) above sea level, along the Pennsylvania state line near Steltz. The lowest elevation is sea level along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay.