Prince George’s County is a county in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 863,420, making it the second-most populous county in Maryland. Its county seat is Upper Marlboro.
Prince George’s County is included in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is home to Joint Base Andrews.
The Cretaceous Era brought dinosaurs to the area which left a number of fossils, now preserved in a 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.
In the mid to late Holocene era, the area was occupied by Paleo-Native Americans and then later, Native Americans. When the first European settlers arrived, what is now Prince George's County was inhabited by people of the Piscataway Indian Nation. Three branches of the tribe are still living today, two of which are headquartered in Prince George's County.
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. The county was divided into six districts referred to as "Hundreds": Mattapany, Petuxant, Collington, Mount Calvert, Piscattoway and New Scotland.
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.
In 1791, portions of Prince George's County were ceded to form the new District of Columbia, along with portions of Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as the parts of Northern Virginia; that were later returned to Virginia.
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.
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.
Note: Parts of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties were taken to form the District of Columbia in 1791.