South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on May 23, 1788. South Carolina became the first state to vote in favor of secession from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868.
Lake Marion – Indian Bluff Park – Eutawville, South Carolina
The state can be divided into three geographic areas. From east to west: the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Locally, the coastal plain is referred to as the Low Country and the other two regions as Up Country. 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 low country and the up country is defined by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers.
The state's coastline contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of Carolina bays, the origins of which are uncertain. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The terrain is flat and the soil is composed entirely of recent sediments such as sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forestsecoregion.
Just west of the coastal plain is the Sandhills region. The Sandhills are remnants of coastal dunes from a time when the land was sunken or the oceans were higher.
The Upstate region contains the roots of an ancient, eroded mountain chain. It is generally hilly, with thin, stony clay soils, and contains few areas suitable for farming. Much of the Piedmont was once farmed. 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. At the southeastern edge of the 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 harness 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.
Earthquakes in South Carolina demonstrate the greatest frequency along the central coastline of the state, in the Charleston area. 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 Southeastern United States. This 7.2 magnitude earthquake killed 60 people and destroyed much of the city. 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.
South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classificationCfa), 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). 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 somewhat uncommon in most of the state, while coastal areas receive less than an inch (2.5 cm) annually on average. It is not uncommon for the state (especially the southern coast) to receive no recordable snowfall in a given year. The interior receives a little more snow, although nowhere in the state averages more than 12 inches (30 cm) of snow annually. The mountains of extreme northwestern South Carolina tend to have the most substantial snow accumulation. Freezing rain and ice tend to be more common than snow in many areas of the state. Road bridges in South Carolina are commonly marked, "Bridge ices before road."
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.
As of 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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2014, South Carolina had an estimated population of 4,896,146, which is an increase of 63,664 from the prior year and an increase of 270,782, or 5.85%, 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.
An August 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found 21% of South Carolina voters thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while 69% thought it should be illegal and 10% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found 48% of South Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 19% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 51% favoring no legal recognition and 2% not sure.
In 2017, the US Census Bureau released 2016 population estimates for South Carolina's most populous cities.