South Carolina
Nickname
The Palmetto State
Motto(s)
Dum spiro spero
"While I breathe, I hope"
Animis opibusque parati
"Prepared in mind and resources"
Anthem: "Carolina"
"South Carolina on my Mind"
Map of the United States with South Carolina highlighted
Map of the United States with South Carolina highlighted
CountryUnited States
Before statehoodProvince of South Carolina
Admitted to the UnionMay 23, 1788 (8th)
CapitalColumbia
Largest cityCharleston
Largest county or equivalentGreenville
Largest metro and urban areasGreenville (combined and metro)
Columbia (urban)
Government
 • GovernorHenry McMaster (R)
 • Lieutenant GovernorPamela Evette (R)
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
JudiciarySouth Carolina Supreme Court
U.S. senatorsLindsey Graham (R)
Tim Scott (R)
U.S. House delegation6 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Area
 • Total32,020.49 sq mi (82,932.7 km2)
 • Land30,060.70 sq mi (77,856.9 km2)
 • Water1,959.79 sq mi (5,075.8 km2)  6.12%
 • Rank40th
Dimensions
 • Length260 mi (420 km)
 • Width200 mi (320 km)
Elevation
350 ft (110 m)
Highest elevation3,560 ft (1,085 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean[1])
0 ft (0 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total5,118,425[2]
 • Rank23rd
 • Density170.27/sq mi (65.74/km2)
  • Rank19th
 • Median household income
$50,570[3]
 • Income rank
41st
DemonymsSouth Carolinian
Language
 • Official languageEnglish
Time zoneUTC– 05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC– 04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
SC
ISO 3166 codeUS-SC
Traditional abbreviationS.C.
Latitude32°02′ N to 35°13′ N
Longitude78°32′ W to 83°21′ W
Websitesc.gov
State symbols of South Carolina
List of state symbols
Living insignia
AmphibianSalamander
BirdCarolina Wren
ButterflyEastern Tiger Swallowtail
Dog breedBoykin Spaniel
FishStriped bass
FlowerYellow jessamine
InsectCarolina mantis
MammalWhite-tailed deer
ReptileLoggerhead sea turtle
TreeSabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
BeverageMilk
DanceCarolina shag
Food
FossilColumbian mammoth
(Mammuthus columbi)
MineralAmethyst
RockBlue Granite
ShellLettered olive
OtherHogna carolinensis
State route marker
Route marker
State quarter
South Carolina quarter dollar coin
Released in 2000
Lists of United States state symbols

South Carolina (/ˌkærəˈlnə/ KARR-ə-LIE-nə) is a state in the coastal Southeastern region of the United States. It borders North Carolina to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and Georgia to the southwest across the Savannah River. Along with North Carolina, it makes up the Carolinas region of the East Coast. South Carolina is the 40th-largest and 23rd-most populous U.S. state with a recorded population of 5,124,712 according to the 2020 census.[4] In 2019, its GDP was $213.45 billion. South Carolina is composed of 46 counties. The capital is Columbia with a population of 137,300 in 2020;[5] while its largest city is Charleston with a 2020 population of 150,277.[6] The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC Combined Statistical Area is the most populous in the state, with a 2020 population of 1,487,610.[7]

South Carolina was named in honor of King Charles I of England, who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles".[8] In 1712 the Province of South Carolina was formed. One of the original Thirteen Colonies, South Carolina became a royal colony in 1719. During the American Revolutionary War, South Carolina was the site of major activity among the American colonies, with more than 200 battles and skirmishes fought within the state.[9] South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on May 23, 1788. A slave state, it was the first state to vote in favor of secession from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted to the Union on July 9, 1868.

During the early-to-mid 20th century, the state started to see economic progress as many textile mills and factories were built across the state. The civil rights movement of the mid-20th century helped end segregation and legal discrimination policies within the state. Economic diversification in South Carolina continued to pick up speed during and in the ensuing decades after World War II. In the early 21st century, South Carolina's economy is based on industries such as aerospace, agribusiness, automotive manufacturing, and tourism.[10]

Within South Carolina from east to west are three main geographic regions, the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northwestern corner of Upstate South Carolina. South Carolina has primarily a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. Areas in the Upstate have a subtropical highland climate. Along South Carolina's eastern coastal plain are many salt marshes and estuaries. South Carolina's southeastern Lowcountry contains portions of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands along the Atlantic Ocean.

History

Main article: History of South Carolina

Precolonial period

Top left, the shores of Florida and the future Carolina explored in 1500 and showed in 1502 on the Cantino planisphere

There is evidence of human activities in the area dating to about 50,000 years ago.[11] At the time Europeans arrived, marking the end of the Pre-Columbian era around 1600, there were many separate Native American tribes, the largest being the Cherokee and the Catawba, with the total population being up to 20,000.[12]

Up the rivers of the eastern coastal plain lived about a dozen tribes of Siouan background. Along the Savannah River were the Apalachee, Yuchi, and the Yamasee. Further west were the Cherokee, and along the Catawba River, the Catawba. These tribes were village-dwellers, relying on agriculture as their primary food source.[12] The Cherokee lived in wattle and daub houses made with wood and clay, roofed with wood or thatched grass.[13]

About a dozen or more separate small tribes summered on the coast harvesting oysters and fish, and cultivating corn, peas and beans. Travelling inland as much as 50 miles (80 km) mostly by canoe, they wintered on the coastal plain, hunting deer and gathering nuts and fruit. The names of these tribes survive in place names like Edisto Island, Kiawah Island, and the Ashepoo River.[12]

Exploration

Map of French Florida, which included modern-day South Carolina

The Spanish were the first Europeans in the area. From June 24 to July 14, 1521, they explored the land around Winyah Bay. On October 8, 1526, they founded San Miguel de Gualdape, near present-day Georgetown, South Carolina. It was the first European settlement in what is now the contiguous United States. Established with five hundred settlers, it was abandoned eight months later by one hundred and fifty survivors. In 1540, Hernando de Soto explored the region and the main town of Cofitachequi, where he captured the queen of the Maskoki (Muscogee) and the Chelaque (Cherokee) who had welcomed him.

In 1562 French Huguenots established a settlement at what is now the Charlesfort-Santa Elena archaeological site on Parris Island. Many of these settlers preferred a natural life far from civilization and the atrocities of the Wars of Religion. The garrison lacked supplies, however, and the soldiers (as in the France Antarctique) soon ran away. The French returned two years later but settled in present-day Florida rather than South Carolina.[12]

Colonization

Main articles: Province of Carolina and Province of South Carolina

See also: Mississippian shatter zone

The Carolina Colony grants of 1663 and 1665

Sixty years later, in 1629, the King of England Charles I established the Province of Carolina, an area covering what is now South and North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. In 1663, Charles II granted the land to eight Lords Proprietors in return for their financial and political assistance in restoring him to the throne in 1660.[14] Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the Lord Proprietors, planned the Grand Model for the Province of Carolina and wrote the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, which laid the basis for the future colony.[15] His utopia was inspired by John Locke, an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism".

The Carolina slave trade, which included both trading and direct raids by colonists,[16]: 109  was the largest among the British colonies in North America.[16]: 65  Between 1670 and 1715, between 24,000 and 51,000 captive Native Americans were exported from South Carolina – more than the number of Africans imported to the colonies of the future United States during the same period.[17][16]: 237  Additional enslaved Native Americans were exported from South Carolina to other U.S. colonies.[17] The historian Alan Gallay says, "the trade in Indian slaves was at the center of the English empire's development in the American South. The trade in Indian slaves was the most important factor affecting the South in the period 1670 to 1715".[17]

In the 1670s, English planters from Barbados established themselves near what is now Charleston. Settlers from all over Europe built rice plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry, east of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line. Plantation labor was done by African slaves who formed the majority of the population by 1720.[18] Another cash crop was the indigo plant, a plant source of blue dye, developed by Eliza Lucas.

Meanwhile, Upstate South Carolina, west of the Fall Line, was settled by small farmers and traders, who displaced Native American tribes westward. Colonists overthrew the proprietors' rule, seeking more direct representation. In 1712, the former Province of Carolina split into North and South Carolina. In 1719, South Carolina was officially made a royal colony.

South Carolina prospered from the fertility of the lowcountry and the harbors, such as at Charleston. It allowed religious toleration, encouraging settlement, and trade in deerskin, lumber, and beef thrived. Rice cultivation was developed on a large scale on the back of slave labor.

By the second half of the 1700s, South Carolina was one of the richest of the Thirteen Colonies.[18]

The American Revolution

Main articles: South Carolina in the American Revolution and Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War

A twenty-dollar banknote issued by South Carolina in 1777 with the inscription: "SOUTH CAROLINA. This Bill intitles the Bearer to Twenty Dollars or Thirty two Pounds ten shillings Current Money of this State pursuant to an Ordinance of the General Assembly passed the 14th Day of Feb. 1777." ; Denominations stated as: "TWENTY DOLLARS" and "L32.10". ; Within emblem: "UBI LIBERTAS IBI PATRIA" ; Verso: "XX Dollars. DEATH TO COUNTERFEIT. L. 32:10:0".
A twenty-dollar banknote issued by South Carolina in 1777

On March 26, 1776, the colony adopted the Constitution of South Carolina,[19] electing John Rutledge as the state's first president. In February 1778, South Carolina became the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation,[20] the initial governing document of the United States, and in May 1788, South Carolina ratified the United States Constitution, becoming the eighth state to enter the union.

During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), about a third of combat action took place in South Carolina,[21] more than any other state.[18] Inhabitants of the state endured being invaded by British forces and an ongoing civil war between loyalists and partisans that devastated the backcountry.[21] It is estimated 25,000 slaves (30% of those in South Carolina) fled, migrated or died during the war.[22]

Antebellum

Main article: Antebellum South Carolina

Millford Plantation built 1839–41, is an example of Greek Revival architecture

America's first census in 1790 put the state's population at nearly 250,000. By the 1800 census, the population had increased 38 per cent to nearly 340,000 of which 146,000 were slaves. At that time South Carolina had the largest population of Jews in the sixteen states of the United States, mostly based in Savannah and Charleston,[23] the latter being the country's fifth largest city.[24]

In the Antebellum period (before the Civil War) the state's economy and population grew. Cotton became an important crop after the invention of the cotton gin. While nominally democratic, from 1790 until 1865, wealthy male landowners were in control of South Carolina. For example, a man was not eligible to sit in the State House of Representatives unless he possessed an estate of 500 acres of land and 10 Negroes, or at least 150 pounds sterling.[25]

Columbia, the new state capital was founded in the center of the state, and the State Legislature first met there in 1790. The town grew after it was connected to Charleston by the Santee Canal in 1800, one of the first canals in the United States.

As dissatisfaction of the planters ruling class with the federal government grew, in the 1820s John C. Calhoun became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification of the U.S. Constitution, and free trade. In 1832, the Ordinance of Nullification declared federal tariff laws unconstitutional and not to be enforced in the state, leading to the Nullification Crisis. The federal Force Bill was enacted to use whatever military force necessary to enforce federal law in the state, bringing South Carolina back into line.

An 1831 House Report from the Committee on Military Affairs noted that

Before the commencement of the war with Great Britain, and for a long time afterwards, the State of South Carolina was almost destitute of any of the means of military protection, excepting as such could be furnished by her own resources. In the harbor of Charleston alone were there any forts, and these were in so feeble a condition, that at a period, when a British squadron was engaged in sounding the depth of water off the bar, and its commander apparently meditating an attack upon the forts, the quantity of gunpowder in the harbor, belonging to the United States, was not more than sufficient to have enabled the garrison to fire a single round.[26]

In the United States presidential election of 1860, voting was sharply divided, with the South voting for the Southern Democrats and the North for Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. Lincoln was anti-slavery, did not acknowledge the right to secession, and would not yield federal property in Southern states. Southern secessionists believed Lincoln's election meant long-term doom for their slavery-based agrarian economy and social system.[27]

Lincoln was elected president on November 6, 1860. The state House of Representatives three days later passed the "Resolution to Call the Election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President a Hostile Act",[28] and within weeks South Carolina became the first state to secede.[18]

Civil War 1861–1865

Main articles: Ordinance of Secession, Confederate States of America, and South Carolina in the American Civil War

Charleston in ruins, 1865

On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries began shelling the Union Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, and the American Civil War began. In November of that year, the Union attacked Port Royal Sound and soon occupied Beaufort County and the neighboring Sea Islands. For the rest of the war, this area served as a Union base and staging point for other operations. Whites abandoned their plantations,[29] leaving behind about ten thousand enslaved people. Several Northern charities partnered with the federal government to help these people run the cotton farms themselves under the Port Royal Experiment. Workers were paid by the pound harvested and thus became the first enslaved people freed by the Union forces to earn wages.[30]

Although the state was not a major battleground, the war ruined the state's economy. More than 60,000 soldiers from South Carolina served in the war,[29] with the state losing an estimated 18,000 troops.[31] Though no regiments of Southern Unionists were formed in South Carolina due to a smaller unionist presence, the Upstate region of the state would be a haven for Confederate Army deserters and resisters, as they used the Upstate topography and traditional community relations to resist service in the Confederate ranks.[32] At the end of the war in early 1865, the troops of General William Tecumseh Sherman marched across the state devastating plantations and most of Columbia. South Carolina would be readmitted to the Union on July 9, 1868.

Reconstruction 1865–1877

Main article: Reconstruction era

Joseph Rainey was the first black person to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented SC's 1st congressional district.

In Texas vs. White (1869), the Supreme Court ruled the ordinances of secession (including that of South Carolina) were invalid, and thus those states had never left the Union. However, South Carolina did not regain representation in Congress until that date.

Until the 1868 presidential election, South Carolina's legislature, not the voters, chose the state's electors for the presidential election. South Carolina was the last state to choose its electors in this manner. During Reconstruction, South Carolina maintained a majority-black government, which lasted until approximately 1876 when Democrats and former Confederates committed voter fraud to regain power.[33][34][35] On October 19, 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant suspended habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties under the authority of the Ku Klux Klan Act.[36] Led by Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, hundreds of Klansmen were arrested while 2,000 Klansmen fled the state.[36] This was done to suppress Klan violence against African-American and white voters in the South.[36] In the mid-to-late 1870s, white Democrats used paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts to intimidate and terrorize black voters. They regained political control of the state under conservative white "Redeemers" and pro-business Bourbon Democrats. In 1877, the federal government withdrew its troops as part of the Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction.

Populist and agrarian movements

The state became a hotbed of racial and economic tensions during the Populist and Agrarian movements of the 1890s. A Republican-Populist biracial coalition took power away from White Democrats temporarily. To prevent that from happening again, Democrats gained passage of a new constitution in 1895 which effectively disenfranchised almost all blacks and many poor whites by new requirements for poll taxes, residency, and literacy tests that dramatically reduced the voter rolls. By 1896, only 5,500 black voters remained on the voter registration rolls, although they constituted a majority of the state's population.[37] The 1900 census demonstrated the extent of disenfranchisement: the 782,509 African American citizens comprised more than 58% of the state's population, but they were essentially without any political representation in the Jim Crow society.[38]

The 1895 constitution overturned local representative government, reducing the role of the counties to agents of state government, effectively ruled by the General Assembly, through the legislative delegations for each county. As each county had one state senator, that person had considerable power. The counties lacked representative government until home rule was passed in 1975.[39]

Governor "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman, a Populist, led the effort to disenfranchise the blacks and poor whites, although he controlled Democratic state politics from the 1890s to 1910 with a base among poor white farmers. During the constitutional convention in 1895, he supported another man's proposal that the state adopt a one-drop rule, as well as prohibit marriage between whites and anyone with any known African ancestry.

Some members of the convention realized prominent white families with some African ancestry could be affected by such legislation. In terms similar to a debate in Virginia in 1853 on a similar proposal (which was dropped), George Dionysius Tillman said in opposition:

If the law is made as it now stands respectable families in Aiken, Barnwell, Colleton, and Orangeburg will be denied the right to intermarry among people with whom they are now associated and identified. At least one hundred families would be affected to my knowledge. They have sent good soldiers to the Confederate Army, and are now landowners and taxpayers. Those men served creditably, and it would be unjust and disgraceful to embarrass them in this way. It is a scientific fact that there is not one full-blooded Caucasian on the floor of this convention. Every member has in him a certain mixture of ... colored blood. The pure-blooded white has needed and received a certain infusion of darker blood to give him readiness and purpose. It would be a cruel injustice and the source of endless litigation, of scandal, horror, feud, and bloodshed to undertake to annul or forbid marriage for a remote, perhaps obsolete trace of Negro blood. The doors would be open to scandal, malice and greed; to statements on the witness stand that the father or grandfather or grandmother had said that A or B had Negro blood in their veins. Any man who is half a man would be ready to blow up half the world with dynamite to prevent or avenge attacks upon the honor of his mother in the legitimacy or purity of the blood of his father.[40][41][42][43]

The state postponed such a one-drop law for years. Virginian legislators adopted a one-drop law in 1924, forgetting that their state had many people of mixed ancestry among those who identified as white.

20th century

Children workers c. 1912. Some children who worked in South Carolina textile mills went to school half a day and worked before and after school—and eight or nine hours on Saturday.

Early in the 20th century, South Carolina developed a thriving textile industry. The state also converted its main agricultural base from cotton, to more profitable crops. It would attract large military bases during World War I, through its majority Democratic congressional delegation, part of the one-party Solid South following disfranchisement of blacks.

In the late 19th century, South Carolina would implement Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation policies until the 1960s. During the early-to-mid part of the 20th century, millions of African Americans left South Carolina and other southern states for jobs, opportunities, and relative freedom in U.S. cities outside the former Confederate states. In total from 1910 to 1970, 6.5 million blacks left the South in the Great Migration. By 1930, South Carolina had a white majority population for the first time since 1708.[44] South Carolina was one of several states that initially rejected the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) giving women the right to vote. The South Carolina legislature later ratified the amendment on July 1, 1969.

See also: South Carolina in the civil rights movement

The struggle of the civil rights movement took place in South Carolina, as they did in other Southern states and elsewhere within the country. South Carolina would experience a much less violent movement than other Deep South states.[45] This tranquil transition from a Jim Crow society occurred because the state's white and black leaders were willing to accept slow change, rather than being utterly unwilling to accept change at all.[46] Other South Carolina political figures, like Sen. Strom Thurmond, on the other hand, were among the nation's most radical and effective opponents of social equality and integration.

During the mid-to-late 20th century, South Carolina started to see economic progress first in the textile industry and then in manufacturing. Tourism also started to form into a major industry within the state during the 20th century, especially in areas such as Myrtle Beach and Charleston.[47]

21st century

North Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, 2010

As the 21st century progresses, South Carolina has attracted new business by having a 5% corporate income tax rate, no state property tax, no local income tax, no inventory tax, no sales tax on manufacturing equipment, industrial power or materials for finished products; no wholesale tax, and no unitary tax on worldwide profits.[48]

South Carolina was one of the first states to stop paying for "early elective" deliveries of babies, under either Medicaid and private insurance.[49][50] The term early elective is defined as a labor induction or Cesarean section between 37 and 39 weeks. The change was intended to result in healthier babies and fewer costs for the state of South Carolina.[51]

On November 20, 2014, South Carolina became the 35th state to legalize same-sex marriages, when a federal court ordered the change.[52]

As of 2022, South Carolina had one of the lowest percentages among all states of women in state legislature, at 17.6% (only five states had a lower percentage; the national average is 30.7%; with the highest percentage being in Nevada at 61.9%).[53]

Geography

Map
Interactive map of South Carolina

Regions

The state can be divided into three natural geographic areas which then can be subdivided into five distinct cultural regions. The natural environment is divided from east to west by the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Culturally, the coastal plain is split into the Lowcountry and the Pee Dee region. While, the upper Piedmont region is referred to as the Piedmont and the lower Piedmont region is referred to as the Midlands. The area surrounding the Blue Ridge Mountains is known as the Upstate.[54] The Atlantic Coastal Plain makes up two-thirds of the state. Its eastern border is the Sea Islands, a chain of tidal and barrier islands. The border between the lowcountry and the upcountry is defined by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers.

Altogether, the state has a total area of 32,020.49 square miles (82,932.7 km2), of which 30,060.70 square miles (77,856.9 km2) is land and 1,959.79 square miles (5,075.8 km2) (6.12%) is water.[55]

Atlantic Coastal Plain

Main article: South Carolina Lowcountry

The Atlantic Coastal plain consists of sediments and sedimentary rocks that range in age from Cretaceous to Present. The terrain is relatively flat and the soil is composed predominantly of sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of low-relief topographic depressions named Carolina bays. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The eastern portion of the coastal plain contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion.[56]

The Sandhills or Carolina Sandhills is a 10–35 mi (16–56 km) wide region within the Atlantic Coastal Plain province, along the inland margin of this province. The Carolina Sandhills are interpreted as eolian (wind-blown) sand sheets and dunes that were mobilized episodically from approximately 75,000 to 6,000 years ago. Most of the published luminescence ages from the sand are coincident with the last glaciation, a time when the southeastern United States was characterized by colder air temperatures and stronger winds.[57]

Piedmont

Much of Piedmont consists of Paleozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks, and the landscape has relatively low relief. Due to the changing economics of farming, much of the land is now reforested in loblolly pine for the lumber industry. These forests are part of the Southeastern mixed forests ecoregion.[56] At the southeastern edge of Piedmont is the fall line, where rivers drop to the coastal plain. The fall line was an important early source of water power. Mills built to this resource encouraged the growth of several cities, including the capital, Columbia. The larger rivers are navigable up to the fall line, providing a trade route for mill towns.

The northwestern part of Piedmont is also known as the Foothills. The Cherokee Parkway is a scenic driving route through this area. This is where Table Rock State Park is located.

Blue Ridge

Pinnacle Mountain viewed from Caesars Head

The Blue Ridge consists primarily of Precambrian metamorphic rocks, and the landscape has relatively high relief. The Blue Ridge Region contains an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains that continues into North Carolina and Georgia as part of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest point at 3,560 feet (1,090 m), is in this area.[58] Also in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion.[56] The Chattooga River, on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.

Lakes

Main article: List of lakes in South Carolina

South Carolina has several major lakes covering over 683 square miles (1,770 km2). All major lakes in South Carolina are human-made. The following are the lakes listed by size.[59][60]

Earthquakes

Main article: List of earthquakes in South Carolina

South Carolina is the most seismically active state on the East Coast.[61] Between July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022, there were 74 recorded earthquakes in South Carolina,[62] six of which exceeded a 3 magnitude.[63] In 2021 and 2022, most of which were concentrated in Kershaw County and the coastal area of Charleston.[62] The Charleston area demonstrates the greatest frequency of earthquakes in South Carolina. South Carolina averages 10–15 earthquakes a year below magnitude 3 (FEMA). The Charleston earthquake of 1886 was the largest quake ever to hit the eastern United States. The 7.0–7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 60 people and destroyed much of the city.[64] Faults in this region are difficult to study at the surface due to thick sedimentation on top of them. Many of the ancient faults are within plates rather than along plate boundaries.

Climate

Main article: Climate of South Carolina

A map of the average annual precipitation in South Carolina

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although high-elevation areas in the Upstate area have fewer subtropical characteristics than areas on the Atlantic coastline. In the summer, South Carolina is hot and humid, with daytime temperatures averaging between 86–93 °F (30–34 °C) in most of the state and overnight lows averaging 70–75 °F (21–24 °C) on the coast and from 66–73 °F (19–23 °C) inland. Winter temperatures are much less uniform in South Carolina. Coastal areas of the state have very mild winters, with high temperatures approaching an average of 60 °F (16 °C) and overnight lows around 40 °F (5–8 °C).

A snow plow in South Carolina. The upstate and mountainous region of the state receives the most measurable snowfall.

Inland, the average January overnight low is around 32 °F (0 °C) in Columbia and temperatures well below freezing in the Upstate. While precipitation is abundant the entire year in almost the entire state, the coast tends to have a slightly wetter summer, while inland, the spring and autumn transitions tend to be the wettest periods and winter the driest season, with November being the driest month. The highest recorded temperature is 113 °F (45 °C) in Johnston and Columbia on June 29, 2012, and the lowest recorded temperature is −19 °F (−28 °C) at Caesars Head on January 21, 1985.

Snowfall in South Carolina is minimal in the lower elevation areas south and east of Columbia. It is not uncommon for areas along the southernmost coast to not receive measurable snowfall for several years. In the Piedmont and Foothills, especially along and north of Interstate 85, measurable snowfall occurs one to three times in most years. Annual average total amounts range from 2 to 6 inches. The Blue Ridge Escarpment receives the most average total measurable snowfall; amounts range from 7 to 12 inches.

South Carolina averages around 50 days of thunderstorm activity a year. This is less than some of the states further south, and it is slightly less vulnerable to tornadoes than the states which border on the Gulf of Mexico. Some notable tornadoes have struck South Carolina, and the state averages around 14 tornadoes annually. Hail is common with many of the thunderstorms in the state, as there is often a marked contrast in temperature of warmer ground conditions compared to the cold air aloft.[65]

Hurricanes and tropical cyclones

Category 4 Hurricane Hugo in 1989

The state is occasionally affected by tropical cyclones. This is an annual concern during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30. The peak time of vulnerability for the southeast Atlantic coast is from early August to early October, during the Cape Verde hurricane season. Memorable hurricanes to hit South Carolina include Hazel (1954), Hugo (1989), and Florence (2018).

Climate change

Köppen climate types in South Carolina, showing a large majority of the state being humid subtropical, with smaller, outlier pockets of an oceanic climate in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Climate change in South Carolina encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Studies show that South Carolina is among a string of "Deep South" states that will experience the worst effects of climate change.[66] According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency:

South Carolina's climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed by one-half to one degree (F) in the last century, and the sea is rising about one to one-and-a-half inches every decade. Higher water levels are eroding beaches, submerging low lands, and exacerbating coastal flooding. Like other southeastern states, South Carolina has warmed less than most of the nation. But in the coming decades, the region's changing climate is likely to reduce crop yields, harm livestock, increase the number of unpleasantly hot days, and increase the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.[67]

As of January 2020, "South Carolina's failure to develop a comprehensive climate plan means the state has no overall effort to cut greenhouse gas pollution, limit sprawl or educate the public on how to adapt to the changing climate."[68]

South Carolina released its Climate, Energy, and Commerce Committee Final Report in 2008. The report recommends a voluntary economy-wide goal of reducing emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. Key policy recommendations in the report include developing renewable portfolio standards, increasing use of local agricultural products, and increasing advanced recycling and composting.

Federal lands in South Carolina

Main article: List of federal lands in South Carolina

Fort Sumter National Monument, site of the first battle of the American Civil War, in Charleston

Flora and fauna

Further information: List of mammals of South Carolina

South Carolina is home to two dominant ecosystems, the bottomlands, which consist of floodplains and creeks, and the toplands. The floodplains contain large tracts of old and mature second growth cypress and tupelo forest. The uplands are home to longleaf pine, shortleaf pine, and mixed hardwood forests.[69] The Longleaf Pine are an important part of South Carolina's coastal ecosystem. They improve soil, water, and air quality while providing a habitat for deer and songbirds.[70] These forests are endangered by logging for agriculture and development.[69][71]

Oysters are a critical part of South Carolina's coastal ecology. They serve a dual function, filtering the water and forming reefs that provide a habitat for small fish and crabs. Oysters are imperiled by overharvesting because young oysters need older oysters to latch on to as they age.[71] South Carolina is home to many shorebirds including various sandpipers and ibises.[72][73] The state serves as a stopover site for birds migrating farther south and a wintering ground for birds that do not fly as far south.[73]

Major cities

See also: List of municipalities in South Carolina

 
 
Largest cities or towns in South Carolina
(2022 census estimate)[74][75]
Rank Name County Pop. Rank Name County Pop.
Charleston
Charleston
Columbia
Columbia
1 Charleston Charleston 153,672 11 Florence Florence 40,072 North Charleston
North Charleston
Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant
2 Columbia Richland 139,698 12 Spartanburg Spartanburg 38,584
3 North Charleston Charleston 118,608 13 Myrtle Beach Horry 38,417
4 Mount Pleasant Charleston 94,545 14 Hilton Head Island Beaufort 38,069
5 Rock Hill York 75,349 15 Bluffton Beaufort 34,493
6 Greenville Greenville 72,310 16 Aiken Aiken 32,463
7 Summerville Dorchester 51,617 17 Fort Mill York 30,940
8 Goose Creek Berkeley 47,618 18 Anderson Anderson 29,771
9 Sumter Sumter 42,757 19 Conway Horry 27,346
10 Greer Greenville 42,090 20 Mauldin Greenville 26,918

Statistical areas

See also: South Carolina statistical areas

The following tables show the major metropolitan and combined statistical areas of South Carolina. Some statistical areas of South Carolina overlap with neighboring states of North Carolina and Georgia.

Rank Metropolitan statistical area (MSA) Population (2020)[76][77] Counties
1 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 2,660,329 Chester, Lancaster, York
2 Greenville-Anderson-Greer, SC 928,195 Anderson, Greenville, Laurens, Pickens
3 Columbia, SC 829,470 Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Richland, Saluda
4 Charleston-North Charleston, SC 799,636 Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester
5 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC 611,000 Aiken, Edgefield
6 Spartanburg, SC 355,241 Spartanburg
7 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC 351,029 Horry
8 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Port Royal, SC 215,908 Beaufort, Jasper
9 Florence, SC 199,964 Darlington, Florence
10 Sumter, SC 105,556 Sumter
Rank Combined statistical area (CSA) Population (2020)[78][77] Counties
1 Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC 2,822,352 Chester, Lancaster, York
2 Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC 1,487,610 Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union
3 Columbia-Sumter-Orangeburg, SC 951,412 Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda
5 Myrtle Beach-Conway-Georgetown, SC 551,126[b][c] Georgetown, Horry

Demographics

Main articles: Demographics of South Carolina and List of cities and towns in South Carolina

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
1790249,073
1800345,59138.8%
1810415,11520.1%
1820502,74121.1%
1830581,18515.6%
1840594,3982.3%
1850668,50712.5%
1860703,7085.3%
1870705,6060.3%
1880995,57741.1%
18901,151,14915.6%
19001,340,31616.4%
19101,515,40013.1%
19201,683,72411.1%
19301,738,7653.3%
19401,899,8049.3%
19502,117,02711.4%
19602,382,59412.5%
19702,590,5168.7%
19803,121,82020.5%
19903,486,70311.7%
20004,012,01215.1%
20104,625,36415.3%
20205,118,42510.7%
2023 (est.)5,373,555[2]5.0%
Source: 1910–2020[80]
Ethnic composition as of the 2020 census
Race and ethnicity[81] Alone Total
White (non-Hispanic) 62.1% 62.1
 
65.5% 65.5
 
African American (non-Hispanic) 24.8% 24.8
 
26.3% 26.3
 
Hispanic or Latino[d] 6.9% 6.9
 
Asian 1.7% 1.7
 
2.3% 2.3
 
Native American 0.3% 0.3
 
1.8% 1.8
 
Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.1
 
0.1% 0.1
 
Other 0.4% 0.4
 
1.0% 1
 
Ethnic origins in South Carolina
Map of South Carolina counties by racial plurality, per the 2020 U.S. census
South Carolina racial breakdown of population
Racial composition 1990[82] 2000[83] 2010[84]
White 69.0% 67.2% 66.2%
Black 29.8% 29.5% 27.9%
Asian 0.6% 0.9% 1.3%
Native American 0.2% 0.3% 0.4%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Two or more races 1.0% 1.7%
Population density of South Carolina

The 2020 census determined the state had a population of 5,118,425. The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of South Carolina was 5,148,714 on July 1, 2019, an 11.31 percentage increase since the 2010 census.[85]

According to HUD's 2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, there were an estimated 3,608 homeless people in South Carolina.[86][87]

At the 2017 census estimate, the racial make up of the state is 68.5% White (63.8% non-Hispanic white), 27.3% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.9% from two or more races. 5.7% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race.[88]

At the 2019 census estimate, South Carolina had an estimated population of 5,148,714, which is an increase of 64,587 from the prior year and an increase of 523,350, or 11.31%, since the year 2010. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 36,401 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 115,084 people. According to the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health, Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, South Carolina's foreign-born population grew faster than any other state between 2000 and 2005.[89][90] South Carolina has banned sanctuary cities.[91]

The top countries of origin for South Carolina's immigrants were Mexico, India, Germany, Honduras and the Philippines, as of 2018.[92]

Legend

  African American
  Other

Historical South Carolina racial breakdown of population[93]

Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on MediaWiki.org.

Religion

Religious self-identification, per Public Religion Research Institute's 2022 American Values Survey[94]

  Protestantism (64%)
  Unaffiliated (20%)
  Catholicism (11%)
  New Age (3%)
  Judaism (1%)

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010, the largest religion is Christianity, of which the largest denominations were the Southern Baptist Convention with 913,763 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 274,111 adherents, and the Roman Catholic Church with 181,743 adherents. Fourth-largest is the African Methodist Episcopal Church with 564 congregations and 121,000 members and fifth-largest is the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 320 congregations and almost 100,000 members.[95] As of 2010, South Carolina was the American state with the highest per capita proportion of citizens who follow the Baháʼí Faith, with 17,559 adherents,[96] making Baháʼí the second-largest religion in the state at the time.[97]

According to the Public Religion Research Institute in 2020, Christianity remained the largest religion at approximately 74% of the population.[98] Among the Christian population, evangelical Protestantism remained the majority; the irreligious community was 18% of the total population. Per ARDA's 2020 religion census, Southern Baptists remained the majority with 816,405 adherents, and Roman Catholics had 407,840 adherents, followed by United Methodists at 242,467. As other Baptist denominations had from 10 to 40,000+ members individually, nondenominational/interdenominational Protestants increased to 454,063 adherents.[99]

Outside of Christianity, ARDA's 2020 study reported 6,677 Muslims in the state, and 830 Orthodox Jews; Reform Judaism consisted of 3,430 adherents. Altogether, Hinduism had 8,383 adherents.[99]

In 2022, the Public Religion Research Institute estimated that Christians increased to 76% of the population (64% Protestant, 11% Catholic, and 1% Jehovah's Witness). The unaffiliated also increased, forming 20% of the state's population, although New Agers constituted 3% of the state. Judaism was 1% of the total population.

Economy

See also: Economy of South Carolina and South Carolina locations by per capita income

A roller coaster in the South Carolina portion of Carowinds

In 2019, South Carolina's GDP was $249.9 billion, making the state the 26th largest by GDP in the United States.[100] According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, South Carolina's gross state product (GSP) was $97 billion in 1997 and $153 billion in 2007. Its per-capita real gross domestic product (GDP) in chained 2000 dollars was $26,772 in 1997 and $28,894 in 2007; which represented 85% of the $31,619 per-capita real GDP for the United States overall in 1997, and 76% of the $38,020 for the U.S. in 2007. The state debt in 2012 was calculated by one source to be $22.9bn, or $7,800 per taxpayer.[101]

Industrial outputs include textile goods, chemical products, paper products, machinery, automobiles, automotive products and tourism. Major agricultural outputs of the state are tobacco, poultry, cotton, cattle, dairy products, soybeans, hay, rice, and swine.[102][103] According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of March 2012, South Carolina had 1,852,700 nonfarm jobs of which 12% are in manufacturing, 11.5% are in leisure and hospitality, 19% are in trade, transportation, and utilities, and 11.8% are in education and health services. The service sector accounts for 83.7% of the South Carolina economy.[104]

Many large corporations have moved their locations to South Carolina. Boeing opened an aircraft manufacturing facility at Charleston International Airport in 2011, which serves as one of two final assembly sites for the 787 Dreamliner. South Carolina is a right-to-work state[105] and many businesses use staffing agencies to temporarily fill positions.[106] Domtar, in Rock Hill, used to be the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in South Carolina, but it was later moved into the Fortune 1000 list.[107][108] The three Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the state are Domtar, Sonoco Products, and ScanSource.[108]

South Carolina also benefits from foreign investment. There are 1,950 foreign-owned firms operating in South Carolina employing almost 135,000 people.[109] Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) brought 1.06 billion dollars to the state economy in 2010.[110] Since 1994, BMW has had a production facility in Spartanburg County near Greer and since 1996 the Zapp Group operates in Summerville near Charleston.

Transportation and infrastructure

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from Charleston Harbor

The state has the fourth largest state-maintained highway system in the country, consisting of 11 Interstates, numbered highways, state highways, and secondary roads, totalling approximately 41,500 miles.[111]

On secondary roads, South Carolina uses a numbering system to keep track of all non-interstate and primary highways that the South Carolina Department of Transportation maintains. Secondary roads are numbered by the number of the county followed by a unique number for the particular road.

Interstates

Main article: List of Interstate Highways in South Carolina

Primary

Auxiliary (three-digit)

Business routes

US highways

Further information: List of U.S. Highways in South Carolina

State routes

Further information: List of state highways in South Carolina

Secondary roads

Further information: South Carolina State Highway System § Secondary roads

Rail

South Carolina passenger rail
Spartanburg
Greenville
Dillon
Clemson
Florence
Camden
Kingstree
Columbia
North Charleston
Denmark
Yemassee

CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern are the only Class I railroad companies in South Carolina, as other freight companies in the state are short lines.

Amtrak operates four passenger routes in South Carolina: the Crescent, the Palmetto, the Silver Meteor, and the Silver Star. The Crescent route serves the Upstate cities, the Silver Star serves the Midlands cities, and the Palmetto and Silver Meteor routes serve the lowcountry cities.

Station Connections
Camden
North Charleston
Columbia
Clemson
Denmark
Dillon
Florence
Greenville
Kingstree
Spartanburg
Yemassee

Major and regional airports

Main article: List of airports in South Carolina

There are seven significant airports in South Carolina, all of which act as regional airport hubs. The busiest by passenger volume is Charleston International Airport.[112] Just across the border in North Carolina is Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the 30th busiest airport in the world, in terms of passengers.[113]

Education

Main article: Education in South Carolina

As of 2010, South Carolina is one of three states that have not agreed to use competitive international math and language standards.[114]

In 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the state had failed to provide a "minimally adequate" education to children in all parts of the state as required by the state's constitution.[115]

South Carolina has 1,144 K–12 schools in 85 school districts with an enrollment of 712,244 as of fall 2009.[116][117] As of the 2008–2009 school year, South Carolina spent $9,450 per student which places it 31st in the country for per student spending.[118]

In 2015, the national average SAT score was 1490 and the South Carolina average was 1442, 48 points lower than the national average.[119]

South Carolina is the only state which owns and operates a statewide school bus system. As of December 2016, the state maintains a 5,582-bus fleet with the average vehicle in service being fifteen years old (the national average is six) having logged 236,000 miles.[120] Half of the state's school buses are more than 15 years old and some are reportedly up to 30 years old. In 2017 in the budget proposal, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman requested the state lease to purchase 1,000 buses to replace the most decrepit vehicles. An additional 175 buses could be purchased immediately through the State Treasurer's master lease program.[121] On January 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded South Carolina more than $1.1 million to replace 57 school buses with new cleaner models through its Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program.[122]

Higher education

See also: List of colleges and universities in South Carolina

South Carolina has diverse institutions from large state-funded research universities to small colleges that cultivate a liberal arts, religious or military tradition.

Furman University bell tower near Greenville

Health care

For overall health care, South Carolina is ranked 37th out of the 50 states in 2022, according to The Commonwealth Fund, a private health foundation working to improve the health care system.[127] The state's teen birth rate was 53 births per 1,000 teens, compared to the national average of 41.9 births, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.[128] The state's infant mortality rate was 9.4 deaths per 1,000 births compared to the national average of 6.9 deaths.[129]

There were 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people compared to the national average of 3.2 physicians.[130] There was $5,114 spent on health expenses per capita in the state, compared to the national average of $5,283.[131] There were 26 percent of children and 13 percent of elderly living in poverty in the state, compared to 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively, doing so in the U.S.[132] And, 34 percent of children were overweight or obese, compared to the national average of 32 percent.[133]

Media

See also: List of newspapers in South Carolina and Category:Mass media in South Carolina

There are 36 TV stations (including PBS affiliates) serving South Carolina with terrestrial, and some online streaming access. Markets in which the stations are located include Columbia, Florence, Allendale, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Charleston, Conway, Beaufort, Hardeeville, Spartanburg, Greenwood, Anderson and Sumter. There are multiple news companies in South Carolina, some major ones are The Charleston Chronicle, Greenville News, The Post and Courier, The State, and The Sun News.

Government and politics

Main article: South Carolina government and politics

See also: Political party strength in South Carolina

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election

South Carolina's state government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The governor of South Carolina heads the executive branch; the South Carolina General Assembly heads the legislative branch; and the South Carolina Supreme Court heads the judicial branch.

South Carolina is a largely conservative state. Since the Declaration of Independence, South Carolina's politics have been controlled by three main parties: the Democratic-Republican Party in the early 1800s, the Democratic Party through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Republican Party in the 21st century. Since the mid-1990s, the South Carolina General Assembly has been controlled by the Republican party, and currently, eight of nine statewide offices are held by Republican officeholders and one by a Democratic officeholder.[134][135]

At the federal level, South Carolina has voted Republican in every presidential election since the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter.[136] Both of South Carolina's senators are Republican. The most-recent Democratic senator to serve was Fritz Hollings, who left office in 2005. South Carolina has seven representatives in the United States House of Representatives, six of whom are Republican.

South Carolina State House

As of November 8, 2022, there were 3,740,743 registered voters.[137] In a 2020 study, South Carolina was ranked by the Election Law Journal as the 7th hardest state for citizens to vote in.[138] South Carolina retains the death penalty. Authorized methods of execution include by electric chair or firing squad.[139]

An April 2023 Winthrop University poll found that an overwhelming majority of South Carolians supported legalizing medical marijuana and believed that a separation between church and state was "critical". A large majority were also found to support same-sex marriage, legalized recreational marijuana and sports gambling, along with an independent commission system for congressional redistricting.[140]

Culture

See also: South Carolina literature

South Carolina has many venues for visual and performing arts. The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Columbia Museum of Art, Spartanburg Art Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia among others provide access to visual arts to the state. There are also numerous historic sites and museums scattered throughout the state paying homage to many events and periods in the state's history from Native American inhabitation to the present day.

South Carolina also has performing art venues including the Peace Center in Greenville, the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia, and the Newberry Opera House, among others to bring local, national, and international talent to the stages of South Carolina. Several large venues can house major events, including Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, and North Charleston Coliseum.

One of the nation's major performing arts festivals, Spoleto Festival USA, is held annually in Charleston. There are also countless local festivals throughout the state highlighting many cultural traditions, historical events, and folklore.

According to the South Carolina Arts Commission, creative industries generate $9.2 billion annually and support over 78,000 jobs in the state.[141] A 2009 statewide poll by the University of South Carolina Institute for Public Service and Policy Research found that 67% of residents had participated in the arts in some form during the past year and on average citizens had participated in the arts 14 times in the previous year.

Sports

Main article: Sports in South Carolina

Although no major league professional sports teams are based in South Carolina, the Carolina Panthers have training facilities in the state and played their inaugural season's home games at Clemson's Memorial Stadium in 1995. They now play at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers consider themselves "The Carolinas' Team" and refrained from naming themselves after Charlotte or either of the Carolinas. The state is also home to numerous minor league professional teams. College teams represent their particular South Carolina institutions, and are the primary options for football, basketball and baseball attendance in the state. South Carolina is also a top destination for golf and water sports.

South Carolina is also home to one of NASCAR's first tracks and its first paved speedway, Darlington Raceway, located northwest of Florence.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  2. ^ Not a true representation of current population in the statistical area. Brunswick County, North Carolina was removed from the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area after a realignment in 2023.[77] The county was moved to the Wilmington, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.[79]
  3. ^ Unofficial readjusted 2020 count of 351,029.
  4. ^ Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin are not distinguished between total and partial ancestry.

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Further reading

Preceded byMaryland List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union Ratified Constitution on May 23, 1788 (8th) Succeeded byNew Hampshire

34°N 81°W / 34°N 81°W / 34; -81 (State of South Carolina)