Chesapeake Bay

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The Chesapeake Bay (pronounced /ˈtʃɛsəpiːk/, CHESS-ə-peek) is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers 64,299 square miles (166,534 km2) in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.[1] More than 150 rivers and streams drain into the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay is approximately 200 miles (300 km) long, from the Susquehanna River in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south. At its narrowest point between Kent County's Plum Point (near Newtown) and the Harford County shore near Romney Creek, the Bay is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) wide; at its widest point, just south of the mouth of the Potomac River, it is 30 miles (50 km) wide. Total shoreline for the Bay and its tributaries is 11,684 miles (18,804 km), and the surface area of the bay and its major tributaries is 4,479 square miles (11,601 km2). Average depth of the bay is 46 feet (14 m) and the maximum depth is 208 feet (63 m).

The bay is spanned in two places. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge crosses the bay in Maryland from Sandy Point (near Annapolis) to Kent Island; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia connects Virginia Beach to Cape Charles.

The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word referring to a village "at a big river." It is the seventh oldest surviving English place-name in the U.S., first applied as "Chesepiook" by explorers heading north from the Roanoke Colony into a Chesapeake tributary in 1585 or 1586.[2] In 2005, Algonquian linguist Blair Rudes "helped to dispel one of the area's most widely held beliefs: that 'Chesapeake' means something like 'Great Shellfish Bay.' It doesn't, Rudes said. The name might actually mean something like 'Great Water,' or it might have been just a village at the bay's mouth."[3] In contrast with many similar bodies of water, such as Delaware Bay or San Francisco Bay, the Chesapeake Bay is almost always preceded by the article the in usage by people living in the area.[citation needed]

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