South Carolina

South Carolina
State of South Carolina
The Palmetto State
Dum spiro spero* (Latin, 'While I breathe, I hope')
Animis opibusque parati† (Latin, 'Prepared in mind and resources')
"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)
Largest cityCharleston[1]
Largest metroUpstate South Carolina
 • GovernorHenry McMaster (R)
 • Lieutenant GovernorPamela Evette (R)
 • Total32,030[2] sq mi (82,931 km2)
 • Land30,109 sq mi (77,982 km2)
 • Water1,911 sq mi (4,949 km2)  6%
Area rank40th
 • Length260 mi (420 km)
 • Width200 mi (320 km)
350 ft (110 m)
Highest elevation3,560 ft (1,085 m)
Lowest elevation
(Atlantic Ocean[3])
0 ft (0 m)
 • Total5,084,127 (2,018)
 • Rank23rd
 • Density157/sq mi (60.6/km2)
 • Density rank19th
 • Median household income
 • Income rank
Demonym(s)South Carolinian
 • Official languageEnglish
Time zoneUTC-05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-04:00 (EDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 codeUS-SC
Trad. abbreviationS.C.
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
U.S. SenatorsLindsey Graham (R)
Tim Scott (R)
U.S. House delegation5 Republicans
2 Democrats (
South Carolina state symbols
Flag of South Carolina.svg
Seal of South Carolina.svg
Living insignia
BirdCarolina wren
ButterflyEastern tiger swallowtail
FishStriped bass
FlowerYellow jessamine
InsectCarolina Mantis
MammalWhite-tailed deer
ReptileLoggerhead Sea Turtle
TreeSabal palmetto
Inanimate insignia
DanceCarolina shag
FossilColumbian mammoth
Mammuthus columbi
RockBlue granite
ShellLettered olive
State route marker
South Carolina state route marker
State quarter
South Carolina quarter dollar coin
Released in 2000
Lists of United States state symbols

South Carolina (ə/ (About this soundlisten)) is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

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.

South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and 23rd most populous U.S. state. Its GDP as of 2013 was $183.6 billion, with an annual growth rate of 3.13%.[6] South Carolina is composed of 46 counties. The capital is Columbia with a 2017 population of 133,114; while its largest city is Charleston with a 2017 population of 134,875. The Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a 2017 population estimate of 895,923.

South Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England, who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles".[7]


Table Rock State Park in the mountains of South Carolina
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 the Midlands and the Upstate respectively.[8] 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.

Lowcountry (Atlantic Coastal Plain)

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.[9]

The Sandhills or Carolina Sandhills is a 15–60 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.[10]

Midlands (Piedmont)

Much of the 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.[9] 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.

The northwestern part of the 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.

Upstate (Blue Ridge)

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.[11] Also in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion.[9] The Chattooga River, on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.


South Carolina has several major lakes covering over 683 square miles (1,770 km2). All major lakes in South Carolina are man-made. The following are the lakes listed by size.[12]


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.[13] 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.


A map of the average annual precipitation in South Carolina
Lake Wylie in autumn

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). 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 is also prone to tropical cyclones and tornadoes. Two of the strongest hurricanes to strike South Carolina in recent history were Hurricane Hazel (1954) and Hurricane Hugo (1989).

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), Florence (2018), and Hugo (1989), all Category 4 hurricanes.[25]

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.[25]

Federal lands in South Carolina


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20185,084,1279.9%
Source: 1910–2010[26]
2018 estimate[27]
South Carolina Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[28] 2000[29] 2010[30] 2017[31]
White 69.0% 67.2% 66.2% 68.5%
Black 29.8% 29.5% 27.9% 27.3%
Asian 0.6% 0.9% 1.3% 1.7%
Native American 0.2% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1% 0.1%
Two or more races 1.0% 1.7% 1.9%
Population density of South Carolina

The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of South Carolina was 5,084,127 on July 1, 2018, an 9.92 percentage increase since the 2010 census.[27]

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.[32]

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.[33][34] South Carolina has banned sanctuary cities.[35]

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.[36] As of 2017, past the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, public opinion has become more supportive, with 53% of South Carolinians now approving of same-sex marriage, leaving Mississippi and Alabama as the only states where a plurality or majority oppose the practice.[37]

Major cities

In 2017, the US Census Bureau released 2017 population estimates for South Carolina's most populous cities.[38]

Population centers

The following table shows the major metropolitan areas of South Carolina.[40]

Rank Metropolitan Area Population Counties
1 Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC MSA 895,923 Greenville, Anderson, Laurens, Pickens
2 Columbia, SC MSA 825,033 Calhoun, Kershaw, Fairfield, Richland, Lexington, Saluda
3 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC MSA 775,831 Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley
4 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC MSA 464,165 Horry, Georgetown, Brunswick
5 Spartanburg, SC MSA 334,391 Spartanburg
6 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC MSA 215,302 Beaufort, Jasper
7 Florence, SC MSA 205,831 Florence, Darlington
8 Sumter, SC MSA 106,847 Sumter
Rank Combined Statistical Area Population Counties
1 Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC CSA 1,460,036 Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Oconee, Laurens, Cherokee, Union
2 Columbia-Orangeburg-Newberry, SC CSA 950,997 Richland, Lexington, Orangeburg, Kershaw, Newberry, Fairfield, Saluda, Calhoun
3 Myrtle Beach-Conway-Georgetown, SC CSA 525,772 Horry, Brunswick, Georgetown
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Suid-Carolina
Ænglisc: Sūþcarolīna
aragonés: Carolina d'o Sud
asturianu: Carolina del Sur
Avañe'ẽ: Yvy Karolina
azərbaycanca: Cənubi Karolina
Bân-lâm-gú: South Carolina
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Паўднёвая Караліна
Bikol Central: South Carolina
Bislama: Saut Carolina
български: Южна Каролина
Boarisch: South Carolina
bosanski: Južna Karolina
brezhoneg: South Carolina
Chavacano de Zamboanga: South Carolina
Cymraeg: De Carolina
davvisámegiella: Lulli-Carolina
Ελληνικά: Νότια Καρολίνα
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Carulìna dal Sud
Esperanto: Suda Karolino
euskara: Hego Carolina
Fiji Hindi: South Carolina
føroyskt: South Carolina
français: Caroline du Sud
Gàidhlig: Carolina a Deas
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: South Carolina
Hawaiʻi: Kalolaina Hema
hrvatski: Južna Karolina
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: সাউথ ক্যারোলাইনা
Bahasa Indonesia: Carolina Selatan
interlingua: Carolina del Sud
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᑳᕉᓖᓈ ᓂᒋᖅ
Iñupiak: South Carolina
Kapampangan: Mauling Carolina
Kiswahili: South Carolina
Kreyòl ayisyen: Karolin disid
لۊری شومالی: کارولینا ھارگە
latviešu: Dienvidkarolīna
Lëtzebuergesch: South Carolina
lietuvių: Pietų Karolina
Limburgs: South Carolina
Lingua Franca Nova: South Carolina
македонски: Јужна Каролина
მარგალური: ობჟათე კაროლინა
مازِرونی: جنوبی کارولینا
Bahasa Melayu: Carolina Selatan
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: South Carolina
Dorerin Naoero: South Carolina
Nederlands: South Carolina
Nedersaksies: Zuud-Carolina
Nordfriisk: South Carolina
norsk nynorsk: Sør-Carolina
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Janubiy Karolina
Piemontèis: Carolin-a dël Sud
Plattdüütsch: Süüd-Carolina
português: Carolina do Sul
română: Carolina de Sud
rumantsch: South Carolina
Gagana Samoa: Karolaina i Saute
संस्कृतम्: साउथ केरोलैना
Seeltersk: South Carolina
sicilianu: Carolina dû Sud
Simple English: South Carolina
slovenčina: Južná Karolína
slovenščina: Južna Karolina
српски / srpski: Јужна Каролина
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Južna Karolina
татарча/tatarça: Көньяк Каролина
Türkçe: Güney Karolina
українська: Південна Кароліна
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Jenubiy Karolina Shitati
Tiếng Việt: South Carolina
Volapük: South Carolina
žemaitėška: Pėitū Karolėna