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Baltimore is an independent city and the largest city and cultural center of the U.S. state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore City in order to distinguish it from surrounding Baltimore County. As of 2008, the population of Baltimore was 636,919. The Baltimore Metropolitan Area has approximately 2.7 million residents; the 20th largest in the country. Baltimore is also the largest city in the surrounding Baltimore Metropolitan Area of 2,668,056 and in the associated combined statistical area of approximately 8.3 million residents.Historically a working-class port town, Baltimore has sometimes been dubbed a "city of neighborhoods," with over 300 identified districts traditionally occupied by distinct ethnic groups.