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Welcome to South Carolina

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South Carolina State Flag
South Carolina State Flag
South Carolina State Seal
South Carolina State Seal
South Carolina Location
South Carolina Location

South Carolina

South Carolina is a state in the Southern region of the United States. The Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. It was the first state to secede from the Union to found the Confederate States of America. The state is named after King Charles I of England. As of 2004, the state's population is 4,198,068.

Several ships in the United States Navy have been named USS South Carolina in honor of this state.

Capital Columbia

Largest City Columbia
Governor (2005) Mark Sanford (R)
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water

82,965 km² (40th)
78,051 km²
4,915 km²
- Total (2000)
- Density

4,198,068 (26th)
51.45 /km² (21st)
Admittance into Union
- Date
- Order
May 23, 1788
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
32°4'30"N to 35°12'N
78°0'30"W to 83°20'W
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
320 km
420 km

1085 m
105 m
0 m
ISO 3166-2 US-SC
State nickname Palmetto State


South Carolina is bounded to the north by North Carolina, to the south and west by Georgia, located across the Savannah River, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and largest city is Columbia. Other important cities are Charleston, Greenville, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Florence.

South Carolina is composed of four geographic areas, whose boundaries roughly parallel the northeast/southwest Atlantic coastline. The lower part of the state is the Coastal Plain, which is nearly flat, composed entirely of recent sediments such as sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. The 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, though one prominent theory suggests that they were created by a meteor shower. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation.

Just west of the coastal plain is the Sand Hills region, which is thought to contain remnants of old coastal dunes from a time when the land was sunken, or the oceans were higher.

Mature Cotton almost ready for pickingThe Piedmont area contains the roots of an ancient, eroded mountain chain. It tends to be hilly, with thin, stony clay soils, and contains few areas suitable for farming. Much of the Piedmont was once farmed, with little success, and is now reforested. At the 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, and 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 upper part of the Piedmont is also known as the Foothills. The Cherokee Parkway contains a scenic driving route through this area.

Highest in elevation is the Upcountry, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue into North Carolina and Georgia, as part of the southern Appalachian chain. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest point (elevation 3560 ft.) is located in this area. Also located in the Upcountry is Table Rock State Park and Caesar's Head State Park. The Chattooga River, located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.


The colony of Carolina was settled by English settlers sent by the Lords Proprietors in 1670, followed by French Huguenots. The Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scotch-Irish migrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Carolina became a royal colony in 1712. North Carolina was split off in 1729. The state declared its independence from Great Britain and set up its own government on March 15, 1776. On February 5, 1778 South Carolina became the first state to ratify the first constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation.

South Carolina seceded from the United States on December 20, 1860. The rest of the Southern states seceded in the following months; together, they organized themselves as the Confederate States of America. President James Buchanan took little action, preferring to let the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln decide the matter. On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries began shelling Fort Sumter, which stands on an island in Charleston harbor, thus precipitating the Civil War. Students from The Citadel were among those firing the first shots of the war, though Edmund Ruffin is usually credited with firing the first shot.

After the American Civil War, South Carolina was reincorporated back into the United States during the Reconstruction period, although its secession was never formally recognized by the federal government. The state continued to be a political hotbed on the subjects of racism and segregation, while at the same time continuing a strong agricultural economy.

In its recent past, South Carolina has endured other trials, like Hurricane Hugo which caused billions of dollars in damage in 1989. However, it also has flourished with its tourist economy and growing coastal shipping industry.

Law and Government

State Government

South Carolina's state government consists of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. The Governor, elected for a (once) renewable four-year term, heads the Executive branch (some officers of which are elected). The bicameral South Carolina General Assembly consists of the 46-member Senate and the 124-member House of Representatives. The two bodies meet in the South Carolina State House. The Judicial Branch consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Circuit Court, Family Court, and other divisions.

Judicial Branch

The Family Court deals with all matters of domestic and family relationships, as well as generally maintaining exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving minors under the age of seventeen, excepting traffic and game law violations. Some criminal charges may come under Circuit Court jurisdiction.

The Circuit Court is the general jurisdiction court for South Carolina, comprised of the Civil Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of General Sessions, which is the criminal court. The court maintains limited appelate jurisdiction over the Probate Court, Magistrate's Court, Municipal Court, and the Administrative Law Judge Division. The state has sixteen judicial circuits, each with at least one resident circuit judge.

The Court of Appeals handles Circuit Court and Family Court appeals, excepting appeals that are within the seven classes of exclusive Supreme Court jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals is selected by the General Assembly for staggered, six-year terms. The Court is comprised of a Chief Judge, and eight associate judges, and may hear cases as the whole Court, or as three panels with three judges each. The Court may preside in any state county.

The Supreme Court is South Carolina's highest court. Comprised of the Chief Justice, and four Associate Justices, Supreme Court judges are appointed to ten year terms by the General Assembly. Terms are staggered, and there are no limits on the number of terms a justice may serve.



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, South Carolina's population was estimated at 4,147,152 people.

The racial makeup of the state is:

66.1% White
29.5% Black
2.4% Hispanic
0.9% Asian
0.3% Native American
1.0% Mixed race
The five largest ancestry groups in South Carolina are African American (29.5%), American (13.9%), German (8.4%), English (8.4%), Irish (7.9%). It is probable that most of those claiming American ancestry are descended from the early Scots-Irish settlers of the upstate region.

For most of its history, black slaves made up a large majority of South Carolina's population (as much as 75%). African-Americans still dominate most of the Lowcountry (especially the inland Lowcountry) and much of the Piedmont; areas where cotton, rice, and indigo plantations once dominated the landscape. Whites, primarily of American and British ancestry, live in much of the upstate and in certain urban and suburban areas.

6.6% of South Carolina's population were reported as under 5, 25.2% under 18, and 12.1% were 65 or older.

Females made up approximately 51.4% of the population.


South Carolina, like most other Southern states, is overwhelmingly Protestant Christian, and has a significantly lower percentage of non-religious people than the national average. The religious affiliations of the people of South Carolina are as follows:

Christian – 92%
Protestant – 84%
Baptist – 45%
Methodist – 15%
Presbyterian – 5%
Other Protestant – 19%
Roman Catholic – 7%
Other Christian – 1%
Other Religions – 1%
Non-Religious – 7%

Historical populations


Famous People from South Carolina

  • Shelton Benjamin (1976—) Born and raised in Orangeburg, SC, Shelton Benjamin is an American professional wrestler and former amateur wrestler now working for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s RAW brand.
  • John C. Calhoun (1782–1850) Born near Abbeville, SC, John Caldwell Calhoun was an American statesman and political philosopher. From 1811 until his death, Calhoun served in the federal government successively as congressman, secretary of war, vice president, senator, secretary of state and again as senator. He has been declared one of the five greatest senators of all time.
  • Wilson Casey (1954—) Born in Woodruff, SC of Spartanburg County. Trivia Guinness World Record Holder. Nationally Syndicated Newspaper Trivia Columnist. Appeared as contestant on NBC's "Weakest Link".
  • Stephen Colbert has been a correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show for several years. In 2005 he became host of The Colbert Report on the same network. A native of Charleston, he attended Porter Gaud Academy.
  • Kevin Garnett The famous "go-to" main man (nicknamed "The Big Ticket") for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the (NBA) National Basketball Asociation was born and raised in Greenville County (Mauldin), SC.
  • Leeza Gibbons of Entertainment Tonight and other Hollywood news shows grew up in Irmo, SC, near the capital of Columbia.
  • Andrew Jackson(1767-1845) Born near Lancaster, Jackson was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans and seventh President of the United States 1829 to 1837
  • Jesse Jackson Famous political figure that followed in the footsteps of the famous Atlantan Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is originally from Greenville, SC.
  • Dr. Ronald McNair (1950–1986) Born in Lake City, SC, Dr. Ronald McNair, was one of the seven astronauts to die when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 28, 1986.
  • Melanie Thornton (1967–2001 Plane Crash) R&B/Pop/Dance Singer (former La Bouche), born in Charleston, died near Bassersdorf (Zurich), (Switzerland).
  • Strom Thurmond (1902–2003) Born in Edgefield, SC, in 1902. He was South Carolina governor from 1947–1951, and in 1954 became the first and only United States Senator to be elected by a write-in vote. In 1997, Sen. Thurmond became the oldest and longest serving member of the U.S. Senate. In January 2003, at age 100, Thurmond retired from public service after his eighth term. He returned to his hometown of Edgefield, where he passed away on Thursday, June 26, 2003.
  • Aaron Tippin grew up in Greenville, SC and started singing as a way to pass time while plowing on his family’s farm. He is now a country music star with several country hits to his credit.
  • Vanna White Wheel of Fortune game show hostess since 1982, hails from North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Further reading

  • Bass, Jack. Porgy Comes Home: South Carolina After 300 Years,. Sandlapper, 1970.
  • Bass, Jack and Jack Nelson.The Orangeburg Massacre,. Mercer University Press, 1992.
  • Bass, Jack and Marilyn W. Thompson. Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond,. Longstreet Press, 1998.
  • Carter, Luther F. and David Mann, eds. Government in the Palmetto State: Toward the 21st Century,. University of South Carolina, 1993.
  • Cohodas, Nadine. Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change,. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
  • Danielson, Michael N. Profits and Politics in Paradise: The Development of Hilton Head Island,. University of South Carolina Press, 1995.
  • Edgar, Walter. South Carolina: A History, , USC Press, 1998.
  • Graham, Cole Blease and William V. Moore. South Carolina Politics and Government. Politics and Governments of the American States, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994.
  • Hollings, Ernest F. The Case Against Hunger: The Need for a National Policy,. Cowles Book Co., 1970.
  • Jordan, Jr., Frank E. The Primary State - A History of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, 1876-1962, Columbia, SC, 1967
  • Keyserling, Harriet. Against the Tide: One Woman's Political Struggle. University of South Carolina Press, 1998. Foreward by Richard W. Riley.
  • Moredock, Will. Banana Republic: A Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach,. Frontline Press, 2003.
  • Robertson, Ben. Red Hills and Cotton,. USC Press (reprint), 1991.
  • Rogers Jr. by George C. and C. James Taylor. A South Carolina Chronology, 1497-1992, 2nd Ed.,. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC, 1994.
  • Tyer, Charlie. ed. South Carolina Government: An Introduction,. USC Institute for Public Affairs, 2002.

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