Montgomery County is Maryland's most populous jurisdiction and its most affluent. The County is located adjacent to the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and includes 497 square miles of land area. The topography is rolling with small hills. Elevations range from 52 feet above sea level near the District Line to 850 feet in the northern portion of the County near Damascus. The area now known as Montgomery County was originally a part of Charles County. In 1696 parts of Charles and Baltimore Counties were split off to form the new Prince George's County. In turn, in 1748, a portion of Prince George's County produced Frederick County. Montgomery County was formed in 1776 by the splitting of Frederick County. The former Frederick County was subdivided into three; the central portion remained Frederick County, while the western was named Washington County in honor of General (later President) George Washington, and the eastern part was named Montgomery County in honor of another Revolutionary War general, Richard Montgomery.
In 1791, portions of Montgomery and Prince George's County, Maryland, as well as parts of Virginia, were ceded to form the new District of Columbia. (The portions originally ceded by Virginia were returned by an act of U.S. Congress, approved July 9, 1846.)
In 1997, Montgomery County annexed a portion of Prince George's County after Takoma Park residents voted to be entirely within the more affluent Montgomery County. This event passed virtually unnoticed as it was on the same day as the city of Hong Kong was transferred back from the custody of Great Britain to the People's Republic of China.
In October 2002, Montgomery County caught national headlines during the Beltway sniper attacks. There were five fatal shootings in 15 hours in Montgomery County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,313 km2 (507 mi2). 1,283 km2 (496 mi2) of it is land and 30 km2 (12 mi2) of it is water. The total area is 2.29% water.
Established in 1779
Montgomery County, named after General Richard Montgomery, was established by the State Convention in 1776, functioned under the County Commission system until 1948, when voters adopted a charter giving the County home rule and a council-manager form of government. In 1968, the voters approved a new charter providing for separate legislative and executive branches of government, with the legislative power vested in an elected council and executive power in an elected county executive. The new charter was fully implemented in 1970 with the November election of an executive and a council. The County Council is currently composed of nine members, four of whom are nominated and elected by voters from the entire County, and five who are elected by voters in each of the County's five Councilmanic districts. Terms for the County Executive and County Council are 4 years.