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Beaufort County, South Carolina facts for kids

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Beaufort County
The Arsenal at Beaufort Historic District.
Official seal of Beaufort County
Map of South Carolina highlighting Beaufort County
Location within the U.S. state of South Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting South Carolina
South Carolina's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  South Carolina
Founded 1769
Seat Beaufort
Largest town Hilton Head Island
 • Total 923 sq mi (2,390 km2)
 • Land 576 sq mi (1,490 km2)
 • Water 347 sq mi (900 km2)  38%
 • Total 162,233
 • Estimate 
 • Density 175.77/sq mi (67.86/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 1st, 6th

Beaufort County ( BEW-fərt) is a county in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2010 census, its population was 162,233. Its county seat is Beaufort.

Beaufort County is part of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Beaufort County is one of the South's fastest-growing counties, primarily because of development south of the Broad River clustered along the U.S. Highway 278 corridor. The county's northern portions have also grown steadily, due in part to the strong federal military presence around the city of Beaufort. The county's two portions are connected by the Broad River Bridge, which carries South Carolina Highway 170.

Beaufort County has been identified as the most at-risk county in the United States for combined damage from climate change in the medium term.


From the early days of plantations, African slaves outnumbered the European minority in the colony. The plantations on the Sea Islands had large concentrations of slaves, and frequently limited interaction with whites. The islands were sites of the development of the Gullah culture, which preserved elements from a variety of West African roots; the people also developed the Gullah language, a creole language. The county was majority black nearly to the mid-20th century.

Union troops took control of Beaufort County and occupied the area beginning in 1861. Many slaves escaped and went to Union lines. In some cases, planters had moved inland for refuge, leaving their slaves on the Sea Islands. Slaves began to organize schools and other parts of their communities early in the war in this county, especially on the islands. The Army founded Mitchellville on Hilton Head by March 1863 as a village where blacks could practice self-governance, and in 1865 it had 1500 residents. After the war, the Drayton family reclaimed this land for their use. In some cases the Union Army allocated plots for blacks for housing and cultivating crops.

When freedmen were granted citizenship and the franchise after the American Civil War by constitutional amendments, most joined the Republican Party. Although not the only black majority state, South Carolina was the only southern state during Reconstruction to elect a black majority of representatives to the state legislature. Beaufort County had many prominent black leaders, such as Robert Smalls, Jonathan Jasper Wright, William James Whipper, Julius I. Washington, and Thomas E. Miller.

Increasing violence during election campaigns in the state from 1868 on was used by white insurgents and paramilitary groups to suppress black voting; results were also dependent on fraud. In 1876, the Democrats regained control of the state legislature and governor's office, although results were disputed. While black Republicans continued to be elected to local office in Beaufort County and other areas through the next decades, in 1895 the Democrat-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disfranchised most blacks through making voter registration and voting more difficult. They were excluded from the political system and kept in second-class status for decades. In 1903 the county "was reported to have 3,434 literate black males to 927 whites," but due to the discriminatory practices, nearly all blacks were barred from voting.

From 1900 through 1950, Beaufort County's economy suffered from the decline in agriculture, which together with oppressive social conditions of Jim Crow contributed to the blacks making a Great Migration out of the South. African Americans went to northern and midwestern industrial cities for jobs and became an urbanized population. The total county population of 35,495 in 1900 dropped by more than one third to 1930, and did not reach the 1900 population level again until well after 1950, when the population was 26,933. Southern Democrats in Congress helped gain the establishment of military installations in the county and state, which added more population and stimulated area jobs in the second half of the 20th century.

In addition, vacation and resort areas were developed that attracted increasing numbers of tourists through the winter season, and then others all year-round as retirees.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 923 square miles (2,390 km2), of which 576 square miles (1,490 km2) is land and 347 square miles (900 km2) (38%) is water.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 18,753
1800 20,428 8.9%
1810 25,887 26.7%
1820 32,199 24.4%
1830 37,032 15.0%
1840 35,794 −3.3%
1850 38,805 8.4%
1860 40,053 3.2%
1870 34,359 −14.2%
1880 30,176 −12.2%
1890 34,119 13.1%
1900 35,495 4.0%
1910 30,355 −14.5%
1920 22,269 −26.6%
1930 21,815 −2.0%
1940 22,037 1.0%
1950 26,993 22.5%
1960 44,187 63.7%
1970 51,136 15.7%
1980 65,364 27.8%
1990 86,425 32.2%
2000 120,937 39.9%
2010 162,233 34.1%
2020 (est.) 195,368 20.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 162,233 people, 64,945 households, and 45,322 families living in the county. The population density was 281.5 inhabitants per square mile (108.7/km2). There were 93,023 housing units at an average density of 161.4 per square mile (62.3/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 71.9% white, 19.3% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 5.2% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 12.1% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 15.5% were German, 13.4% were Irish, 13.1% were English, 5.4% were Italian, and 5.0% were American.

Of the 64,945 households, 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 30.2% were non-families, and 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.84. The median age was 40.6 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $55,286 and the median income for a family was $65,071. Males had a median income of $41,059 versus $33,959 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,731. About 7.4% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.3% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.

2020 census

Beaufort County racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 126,704 67.71%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 27,545 14.72%
Native American 354 0.19%
Asian 2,381 1.27%
Pacific Islander 119 0.06%
Other/Mixed 6,603 3.53%
Hispanic or Latino 23,411 12.51%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 187,117 people, 73,043 households, and 50,500 families residing in the county.


Beaufort County is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area. The 2014 estimated population for the MSA was 203,022.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Named islands

Some islands are also towns.

In popular culture

  • The Big Chill
  • Forrest Gump
  • Platoon
  • The Prince of Tides
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • The Great Santini
  • The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy
  • The Tara Rumor
  • Commandment Keeper Church
  • To Live as a Free Man
  • Les Marines
  • Daughters of the Dust
  • The War
  • The Jungle Book
  • Chasers
  • Something to Talk About
  • White Squall
  • Last Dance
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Gone Fishin'
  • G.I. Jane
  • Animal
  • Forces of Nature
  • Rules of Engagement
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance
  • Because of Winn Dixie
  • In For a Penny
  • And Not a Penny More
  • Perdition House
  • Judas Island
  • Resurrection Road
  • Bishop's Reach
  • Sanctuary Hill
  • The Mercy Oak


Colleges and universities

  • University of South Carolina Beaufort

Community, junior, and technical colleges

  • Technical College of the Lowcountry

High schools

  • Battery Creek High School
  • Beaufort High School
  • Beaufort Jasper Academy for Career Excellence
  • Bluffton High School
  • Hilton Head Island High School
  • John Paul II Catholic School
  • May River High School
  • Whale Branch Early College High School
  • Bridges Preparatory School

Notable people

  • Pat Conroy, author
  • Joe Frazier, boxer
  • Candice Glover, American Idol Season 12 winner
  • Bob Inglis, politician
  • Greg Jones, football player
  • Thomas E. Miller, educator, lawyer, politician, son of Declaration signor Thomas E. Heyward, Jr.
  • James Saxon, football player
  • Duncan Sheik, musician
  • Wayne Simmons, football player
  • Robert Smalls, politician
  • Stan Smith, tennis player
  • Devin Taylor, football player
  • D.J. Trahan, golfer
  • Kathryn R. Wall, author

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Beaufort (Carolina del Sur) para niños

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