Counties of South Carolina
LocationState of South Carolina
Populations7,579 (Allendale) – 547,950 (Greenville)
Areas392 square miles (1,020 km2) (Calhoun) – 1,358 square miles (3,520 km2) (Charleston)

The U.S. state of South Carolina is made up of 46 counties, the maximum allowable by state law.[1] They range in size from 359 square miles (930 square kilometers) in the case of Calhoun County to 1,358 square miles (3,517 square kilometers) in the case of Charleston County. The least populous county is Allendale County, with only 7,579 residents, while the most populous county is Greenville County, with a population of 547,950, despite the state's most populous city, Charleston, being located in Charleston County.


In the colonial period, the land around the coast was divided into parishes corresponding to the parishes of the Church of England. There were also several counties that had judicial and electoral functions. As people settled the backcountry, judicial districts and additional counties were formed. This structure continued and grew after the Revolutionary War. In 1800, all counties were renamed as districts. In 1868, the districts were converted back to counties.[2] The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has maps that show the boundaries of counties, districts, and parishes starting in 1682.[3]

Historically, county government in South Carolina has been fairly weak.[4] The 1895 Constitution made no provision for local government, effectively reducing counties to creatures of the state. Each county's delegation to the General Assembly, comprising one senator and at least one representative, also doubled as its county council. Under this system, the state senator from each county wielded the most power.[5] From the eighteenth century to 1973, counties in South Carolina performed limited functions such as the provision of law enforcement and the construction of transportation infrastructure.[4]

In 1964, the United States Supreme Court case Reynolds v. Sims required reapportionment according to the principle of "one man, one vote", which resulted in legislative districts crossing county lines. However, it was not until 1973 that the constitution was amended to provide for limited home rule at the county level.[6] This was finally enacted in 1975 with the Home Rule Act,[5] which provided for elected councils in each county. Further, in 1989, all counties were given the authority to exercise broad police powers.[7] Thus, they may enact regulations and ordinances related to the provision or preservation of security, health, peace, and order, so long as the regulation is not inconsistent with state law.[8] Nonetheless, all counties and municipalities in South Carolina lack “fiscal home rule,” meaning they may only enact taxes authorized by the General Assembly.[5]

County ordinances become applicable within municipal boundaries when the municipality and the county make a formal agreement, and the municipality formally adopts the ordinance.[9] Unincorporated areas are governed by the county's land use plans.[10]

County abbreviations

County Name Abbreviation[11] County Name Abbreviation[11]
Abbeville AB Greenwood GN
Aiken AK Hampton HA
Allendale AL Horry HR
Anderson AN Jasper JA
Bamberg BA Kershaw KE
Barnwell BR Lancaster LA
Beaufort BU Laurens LU
Berkeley BK Lee LE
Calhoun CL Lexington LX
Charleston CH Marion MA
Cherokee CK Marlboro ML
Chester CS McCormick MC
Chesterfield CT Newberry NB
Clarendon CR Oconee OC
Colleton CN Orangeburg OR
Darlington DA Pickens PN
Dillon DN Richland RD
Dorchester DR Saluda SA
Edgefield ED Spartanburg SP
Fairfield FA Sumter SU
Florence FL Union UN
Georgetown GE Williamsburg WG
Greenville GV York YK

Alphabetical list

FIPS code[12] County seat[13] Est.[13] Origin[14] Etymology Population
Area[16] Map
Abbeville County 001 Abbeville 1785 Ninety-Six District Abbeville, France 24,356 512 sq mi
(1,326 km2)
State map highlighting Abbeville County
Aiken County 003 Aiken 1871 Barnwell County, Edgefield County, Lexington County, and Orangeburg County William Aiken, founder of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company 174,150 1,080 sq mi
(2,797 km2)
State map highlighting Aiken County
Allendale County 005 Allendale 1919 Barnwell County and Hampton County P.H. Allen, first postmaster of the new county 7,579 412 sq mi
(1,067 km2)
State map highlighting Allendale County
Anderson County 007 Anderson 1826 Pendleton District Robert Anderson, American Revolutionary War general and Southern surveyor 209,581 756 sq mi
(1,958 km2)
State map highlighting Anderson County
Bamberg County 009 Bamberg 1897 Barnwell County Francis Marion Bamberg (1838–1905), Confederate general in the American Civil War 12,908 396 sq mi
(1,026 km2)
State map highlighting Bamberg County
Barnwell County 011 Barnwell 1798 Orangeburg County John Barnwell, South Carolina State Senator and prisoner of war during the American Revolution 20,414 557 sq mi
(1,443 km2)
State map highlighting Barnwell County
Beaufort County 013 Beaufort 1769 1769 Judicial District Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort, colonial proprietary landowner 196,371 923 sq mi
(2,391 km2)
State map highlighting Beaufort County
Berkeley County 015 Moncks Corner 1882 Charleston County William Berkeley, colonial proprietary governor and landowner 245,117 1,234 sq mi
(3,196 km2)
State map highlighting Berkeley County
Calhoun County 017 St. Matthews 1908 Lexington County and Orangeburg County John C. Calhoun, U.S. senator from South Carolina 14,179 392 sq mi
(1,015 km2)
State map highlighting Calhoun County
Charleston County 019 Charleston 1769 1769 Judicial District King Charles II of England 419,279 1,358 sq mi
(3,517 km2)
State map highlighting Charleston County
Cherokee County 021 Gaffney 1897 Spartanburg County, Union County, and York County Cherokee Native Americans 56,121 397 sq mi
(1,028 km2)
State map highlighting Cherokee County
Chester County 023 Chester 1785 Camden District Chester, Pennsylvania 31,931 586 sq mi
(1,518 km2)
State map highlighting Chester County
Chesterfield County 025 Chesterfield 1798 Cheraws District Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, an Enlightenment-era scholar, government official, and member of the British House of Lords 43,683 806 sq mi
(2,088 km2)
State map highlighting Chesterfield County
Clarendon County 027 Manning 1855 Sumter County Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, colonial proprietary landowner 30,913 696 sq mi
(1,803 km2)
State map highlighting Clarendon County
Colleton County 029 Walterboro 1800 Charleston County John Colleton, colonial proprietary landowner 38,599 1,133 sq mi
(2,934 km2)
State map highlighting Colleton County
Darlington County 031 Darlington 1785 Cheraws District Darlington, England 62,398 566 sq mi
(1,466 km2)
State map highlighting Darlington County
Dillon County 033 Dillon 1910 Marion County James William "J.W." Dillon (1826-1913), founder of the Wilson Short Cut Railroad 27,738 407 sq mi
(1,054 km2)
State map highlighting Dillon County
Dorchester County 035 St. George 1868 Berkeley County and Colleton County Dorchester, Massachusetts 166,133 571 sq mi
(1,479 km2)
State map highlighting Dorchester County
Edgefield County 037 Edgefield 1785 Ninety-Six District Disputed; either its location on the edge of the state or Edgefield, Norfolk, England 26,932 507 sq mi
(1,313 km2)
State map highlighting Edgefield County
Fairfield County 039 Winnsboro 1785 Camden District The county's fair fields, as described by colonial Governor Charles Cornwallis 20,455 710 sq mi
(1,839 km2)
State map highlighting Fairfield County
Florence County 041 Florence 1888 Clarendon County, Darlington County, Marion County, and Williamsburg County Florence Harllee (1848-1927), daughter of Wilmington and Manchester Railroad founder W.W. Harllee 136,721 804 sq mi
(2,082 km2)
State map highlighting Florence County
Georgetown County 043 Georgetown 1769 1769 Judicial District King George II of Great Britain 64,722 1,035 sq mi
(2,681 km2)
State map highlighting Georgetown County
Greenville County 045 Greenville 1786 Washington District Nathanael Greene, Revolutionary War general 547,950 796 sq mi
(2,062 km2)
State map highlighting Greenville County
Greenwood County 047 Greenwood 1897 Abbeville County and Edgefield County Greenwood Plantation, the home of John McGee, the county's largest landowner 69,267 464 sq mi
(1,202 km2)
State map highlighting Greenwood County
Hampton County 049 Hampton 1878 Beaufort County Wade Hampton III, lieutenant general and cavalry leader in the Confederate States Army and later governor of South Carolina and U.S. senator 18,113 563 sq mi
(1,458 km2)
State map highlighting Hampton County
Horry County 051 Conway 1801 Georgetown County Peter Horry, Revolutionary War general 383,101 1,255 sq mi
(3,250 km2)
State map highlighting Horry County
Jasper County 053 Ridgeland 1912 Beaufort County and Hampton County William Jasper, Revolutionary War sergeant 32,039 702 sq mi
(1,818 km2)
State map highlighting Jasper County
Kershaw County 055 Camden 1798 Claremont County, Fairfield County, Lancaster County, and Richland Joseph Kershaw, one of the county's pioneering settlers 67,751 740 sq mi
(1,917 km2)
State map highlighting Kershaw County
Lancaster County 057 Lancaster 1798 Camden District Lancaster, England, and the House of Lancaster[17] 104,577 555 sq mi
(1,437 km2)
State map highlighting Lancaster County
Laurens County 059 Laurens 1785 Ninety-Six District Henry Laurens, president of the Second Continental Congress and prisoner of war during the American Revolution 67,965 724 sq mi
(1,875 km2)
State map highlighting Laurens County
Lee County 061 Bishopville 1902 Darlington County, Kershaw County, and Sumter County Robert E. Lee, Confederate general during the Civil War 16,153 411 sq mi
(1,064 km2)
State map highlighting Lee County
Lexington County 063 Lexington 1804 Orangeburg County Battle of Lexington, opening skirmish of the Revolutionary War 304,797 758 sq mi
(1,963 km2)
State map highlighting Lexington County
Marion County 067 Marion 1800 Georgetown County Francis Marion, Revolutionary War general 28,450 494 sq mi
(1,279 km2)
State map highlighting Marion County
Marlboro County 069 Bennettsville 1785 Cheraws District John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, English general, diplomat, and confidant of monarchs 26,039 486 sq mi
(1,259 km2)
State map highlighting Marlboro County
McCormick County 065 McCormick 1914 Abbeville County, Edgefield County, and Greenwood County Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper and founder of International Harvester 9,764 394 sq mi
(1,020 km2)
State map highlighting McCormick County
Newberry County 071 Newberry 1785 Ninety-Six District Disputed; possibly Newbury, Berkshire, England, or from early settlers' notion that the landscape was as "pretty as a new berry" 38,247 647 sq mi
(1,676 km2)
State map highlighting Newberry County
Oconee County 073 Walhalla 1868 Pickens County Oconee Native Americans 80,180 674 sq mi
(1,746 km2)
State map highlighting Oconee County
Orangeburg County 075 Orangeburg 1769 1769 Judicial District Prince William V of Orange 83,094 1,128 sq mi
(2,922 km2)
State map highlighting Orangeburg County
Pickens County 077 Pickens 1826 Pendleton District Andrew Pickens, governor of South Carolina 133,462 513 sq mi
(1,329 km2)
State map highlighting Pickens County
Richland County 079 Columbia 1799 Camden District The county's rich soil 421,566 772 sq mi
(1,999 km2)
State map highlighting Richland County
Saluda County 081 Saluda 1896 Edgefield County Saluda River 18,938 462 sq mi
(1,197 km2)
State map highlighting Saluda County
Spartanburg County 083 Spartanburg 1785 Ninety-Six District "Spartan Regiment" of the state militia, which was the key force for victory in the Revolutionary War Battle of Cowpens 345,831 820 sq mi
(2,124 km2)
State map highlighting Spartanburg County
Sumter County 085 Sumter 1798 Claremont County, Clarendon County, and Salem County Thomas Sumter, Revolutionary War general and U.S. senator from South Carolina 104,012 682 sq mi
(1,766 km2)
State map highlighting Sumter County
Union County 087 Union 1798 Ninety-Six District Union Church, the first Christian place of worship in the area 26,752 515 sq mi
(1,334 km2)
State map highlighting Union County
Williamsburg County 089 Kingstree 1802 Georgetown District King William III of England 30,058 937 sq mi
(2,427 km2)
State map highlighting Williamsburg County
York County 091 York 1798 Camden District York County, Pennsylvania 294,248 696 sq mi
(1,803 km2)
State map highlighting York County

Defunct parishes, counties and districts

See also: List of former United States counties


Until the late 19th century, the South Carolina Lowcountry was divided into parishes which in turn were subdivided several "districts"; these civil parishes were based on and generally coincident (even well after disestablishment) with Anglican ecclesiastical parishes.[18]



Proposed counties

See also


  1. ^ Section 3, Article VIII of the South Carolina Constitution Archived January 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Edgar, Walter, ed. The South Carolina Encyclopedia, University of South Carolina Press, 2006, pp. 230-234, ISBN 1-57003-598-9
  3. ^ "SC County Maps". South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
  4. ^ a b Underwood, James Lowell. The South Carolina Constitution 2–5 (1985) (describing how South Carolina’s strong legislature led to weak county government in South Carolina until 1973 because county needs were handled by county delegations to the General Assembly)
  5. ^ a b c Tyer, Charlie B. (1999). "County Government in the Palmetto State". The South Carolina Governance Project. University of South Carolina. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021.
  6. ^ Ulbrich, Holley H.; London, Donna S.; Lucken, Melinda A. (2011). "Local Governments and Home Rule in South Carolina 4".
  7. ^ Pierce, Jon B. (June 8, 2016). "Local government". South Carolina Encyclopedia.
  8. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § 4-9-25 (2020).
  9. ^ Guyton, Madison (2020). "Bans on Bans: Plastic Bags, Power, And Home Rule In South Carolina". 71 S.C. L. Rev. 801, 807.
  10. ^ S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-330 (2020).
  11. ^ a b "Curation, Loan, and Access Policy" (PDF). South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. pp. 21–22. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2021. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". EPA. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  13. ^ a b National Association of Counties. "NACo - Find a county". Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
  14. ^ "2020 County Gazetteer Files - South Carolina". United States Census Bureau. August 23, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  15. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: South Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  16. ^ "2020 County Gazetteer Files - South Carolina". United States Census Bureau. August 23, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  17. ^ "History of Lancaster", Lancaster County, South Carolina Archived May 15, 2019, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ The Newberry Library (2009). "South Carolina: Individual County Chronologies, South Carolina Atlas of Historical County Boundaries". Chicago, Illinois, US. Retrieved June 5, 2018.

Works cited