South Carolina facts

State of South Carolina
Flag of South Carolina State seal of South Carolina
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Palmetto State
Motto(s): Dum spiro spero* (Latin), While I Breathe I Hope
Animis opibusque parati† (Latin), Prepared in Mind and Resources
Map of the United States with South Carolina highlighted
Official language English
Demonym South Carolinian
Capital
(and largest city)
Columbia
Largest metro Greenville
Area Ranked 40th
 - Total 32,020 sq mi
(82,931 km2)
 - Width 200 miles (320 km)
 - Length 260 miles (420 km)
 - % water 6
 - Latitude 32° 2′ N to 35° 13′ N
 - Longitude 78° 32′ W to 83° 21′ W
Number of people Ranked 23rd
 - Total 4,961,119 (2016 est)
 - Density 155/sq mi  (60.0/km2)
Ranked 19th
 - Average income $46,360 (44th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Sassafras Mountain
3,560 ft (1,085 m)
 - Average 350 ft  (110 m)
 - Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
sea level
Before statehood Province of South Carolina
Became part of the U.S. May 23, 1788 (8th)
Governor Henry McMaster (R)
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R)
Tim Scott (R)
U.S. House delegation 5 Republicans, 1 Democrat, 1 vacant (list)
Time zone Eastern: UTC -5/-4
Abbreviations SC, S.C. US-SC
Website www.sc.gov
South Carolina State symbols
Flag of South Carolina.svg
The Flag of South Carolina.

Seal of South Carolina.svg
The Seal of South Carolina.

Animate insignia
Amphibian Salamander
Bird(s) Carolina wren
Butterfly Eastern tiger swallowtail
Fish Striped bass
Flower(s) Yellow jessamine
Insect Carolina Mantis
Mammal(s) White-tailed deer
Reptile Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Tree Sabal palmetto

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Carolina shag
Fossil Columbian mammoth
Mammuthus columbi
Mineral Amethyst
Shell Lettered olive
Song(s) "Carolina",
"South Carolina On My Mind"

Route marker(s)
South Carolina Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of South Carolina
Released in 2000

Lists of United States state insignia

South Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. The state is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the south and west by Georgia across the Savannah River, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, doing so on May 23, 1788. South Carolina became the first state to vote to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868.

The capital and largest city is Columbia with a 2013 population of 133,358; the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metropolitan area had a 2013 population of 850,965.

South Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England, under whose reign the English colony was first formed, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles".

History

Precolonial period

There is evidence of human activity in the area about 12000 years ago. 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, and the total population being up to 20000

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. The Cherokee lived in wattle and daub houses made with wood and clay, roofed with wood or thatched grass.

About a dozen 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.

Colonization

Wpdms carolina colony grant
The Carolina Colony grants of 1663 and 1665

The Spanish were the first Europeans in the area, in 1521, founding San Miguel de Gualdape, the first European settlement in what is now mainland USA five years later. Established with 500 settlers, it was abandoned within a year by 150 survivors. In 1562 French settlers established a settlement at what is now the Charlesfort-Santa Elena archaeological site on Parris Island but abandoned after a fire destroyed their supplies. Three years later the Spanish built a fort on the same site, but withdrew following hostilities with the English navy.

In 1629, King Charles I of England established the Province of Carolina an area covering what is now South and North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. In the 1670s, English planters from the Barbados established themselves near what is now Charleston.

Settlers built rice plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry, east of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line. Settlers came from all over Europe. Plantation labor was done by African slaves who formed the majority of the population by 1720. Another cash crop was the Indigo plant, a plant source of blue dye, developed by Eliza Lucas.

Meanwhile, in 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' (absentee English landowners) rule, seeing more direct representation. In 1719, the colony was officially made a crown colony. In 1729 North Carolina was split off into a separate colony.

Southern Carolina prospered from the fertility of the Low Country and the harbors, such as that at Charleston. It allowed religious toleration, encouraging Settlements spread, and trade in deerskin, lumber, and beef thrived. Rice cultivation was developed on a large scale.

By the second half of the 1700s South Carolina was one of the richest of what were about to become the Thirteen Colonies.

The American Revolution

On March 26, 1776, the colony adopted the Constitution of South Carolina, electing John Rutledge as the state's first president. In February, 1778, South Carolina became the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, 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, more than in any other state. Inhabitants of the state endured being invaded by English forces and an ongoing civil war between loyalists an partisans that devastated the backcountry. It is estimated that 25,000 slaves (30% of those in South Carolina) fled, migrated or died during the war.

Antebellum

Millford Plantation HABS color 2
Millford Plantation (1839–41), an example of Greek Revival architecture.

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.

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 with the federal government grew, in the 1820s John C. Calhoun became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification of the US 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.

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.

Lincoln was elected present on 6 November 1860. The state House of Representatives immediately passed the "Resolution to Call the Election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President a Hostile Act, 9 November 1860", and within weeks South Carolina became the first state to declare secession from the US.

Civil War 1861–1865

Broad Street Charleston South Carolina 1865
The Southern economy had been ruined by the war. Charleston, South Carolina: Broad Street, 1865

On April 12, 1861, Confederate (southern) batteries began shelling the Union (federal, northern, or US) Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, after US troops refusal to leave the fort peacefully, 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, leaving behind about 10,000 slaves. 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 former slaves freed by the Union forces to earn wages.

Although the state was not a major battleground, the war ruined the economy. Under conscription, all men aged 18–35 (later 45) were drafted for Confederate service. More than 60,000 served, and the state lost nearly one-third of the white male population of fighting age.

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.

Reconstruction 1865–1877

After the war, South Carolina was restored to the United States during Reconstruction. Under presidential Reconstruction (1865–66), freedmen (former slaves) were given limited rights. Under Radical reconstruction (1867–1877), a Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers and scalawags was in control, supported by Union Army forces. They established public education, welfare institutions, and home rule for counties, expanding democracy.

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. Led by Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, hundreds of Klansmen were arrested while 2000 Klansmen fled the state. This was done in order to suppress Klan violence against African-American and white voters in the South. 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.

1890's–

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 that effectively disfranchised 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.

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.

Some of the children who go to school half a day
Children in Port Royal, South Carolina, ca 1912. Some of the children went to school half a day, and worked before school, and several hours 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 agricultural base from cotton to more profitable crops; attracted large military bases through its powerful Democratic congressional delegation, part of the one-party South following disfranchisement of blacks at the turn of the century; and created tourism industries.

During the early part of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left South Carolina and other southern states for jobs and better opportunities in northern, Midwestern and western cities. 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 for the first time since 1708.

The struggle of the Civil Rights Movement took place in South Carolina as well as other places in the South.

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.

Geography

TableRockMountain
Table Rock State Park in the mountains of South Carolina
Francis Marion Forest
Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County

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 forests ecoregion.

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.

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.

Highest in elevation is the Blue Ridge Region, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue 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 located in this area. Also located in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion. The Chattooga River, located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.

Lakes

Cypress tree - Lake Marion - Indian Bluff Park - Eutawville, SC, USA
Lake Marion – Indian Bluff Park – Eutawville, South Carolina

South Carolina has several major lakes covering over 683 square miles (1,770 km2). The following are the lakes listed by size.

  • Lake Marion 110,000 acres (450 km2)
  • Lake Strom Thurmond (also known as Clarks Hill Lake) 71,100 acres (290 km2)
  • Lake Moultrie 60,000 acres (240 km2)
  • Lake Hartwell 56,000 acres (230 km2)
  • Lake Murray 50,000 acres (200 km2)
  • Russell Lake 26,650 acres (110 km2)
  • Lake Keowee 18,372 acres (70 km2)
  • Lake Wylie 13,400 acres (50 km2)
  • Lake Wateree 13,250 acres (50 km2)
  • Lake Greenwood 11,400 acres (50 km2)
  • Lake Jocassee 7,500 acres (30 km2)
  • Lake Bowen

Earthquakes

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.

Climate

Lake Wylie in autumn
Lake Wylie in autumn

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, 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, March tends to be the wettest month 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 areas along the coast (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

Hurricane Hugo 1989 sept 21 1844Z
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) and Hugo (1989), both Category 4 hurricanes.

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.

Demographics

South Carolina population map
Population density of South Carolina.

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of South Carolina was 4,896,146 on July 1, 2015.

As of the 2013 census estimate, the racial make up of the state is 68.3% White (63.9% non-Hispanic white), 27.9% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.7% from two or more races. 5.3% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race.

Religion

In 2010:

  • Evangelical Protestant 1,410,988 adherents
  • Mainline Protestant 482,103 adherents
  • Black Protestant 256,178 adherents
  • Catholic 181,743 adherents
  • Other 76,874 adherents
    • Baha'i Faith 17,559 adherents
    • Judaism 6,511 adherents
    • Islam 5,792 adherents
  • Orthodox 5,557 adherents
  • Unclaimed 2,211,921

Major cities

South Carolina's largest cities

Fallskyline of Columbia SC from Arsenal Hill
Fall Skyline of Columbia
City of North Charleston city hall
City of North Charleston city hall

Economy and infrastructure

Arthur Ravenel Bridge (from water)
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from Charleston Harbor

Major agricultural outputs of the state are tobacco, poultry, cotton, cattle, dairy products, soybeans, hay, rice, and swine. Industrial outputs include textile goods, chemical products, paper products, machinery, automobiles, automotive products and tourism.

Many large corporations have moved their locations to South Carolina. Boeing opened an aircraft manufacturing facility in Charleston in 2011, which serves as one of two final assembly sites for the 787 Dreamliner.

Transportation

Road

I-26 (SC).svg
US 76.svg
South Carolina 9.svg

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

Rail

Passenger

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 low country cities.

Freight

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.

Major and regional airports

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. Just across the border in North Carolina is Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the 30th busiest airport in the world, in terms of passengers.

Federal lands in South Carolina

Congaree swamp
Congaree National Park, Hopkins

Gallery


South Carolina Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.