| Mark Hammond|
32,020 sq mi
4.832 million (2014)
| University of South Carolina|
Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, North Myrtle Beach, Congaree National Park
Brookgreen Gardens, Broadway at the Beach, Patriots Point, Fort Sumter, Riverbanks Zoo
South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States. It is bordered 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. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina became a slave society after rice and indigo became established as commodity crops. From 1708, a majority of the population were slaves, many born in Africa. It was the first of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British Crown during the American Revolution.
South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. It was the 8th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on May 23, 1788. South Carolina later became the first state to vote to secede from the Union which it did on December 20, 1860. After the end of the American Civil War, the state was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868.
South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and the 24th most populous of the 50 U.S. states. Its GDP as of 2013 was $183.6 billion, with an annual growth rate of 3.13%. South Carolina comprises 46 counties. The capital and largest city of the state is Columbia with a 2013 population of 133,358. The largest MSA is Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin with a 2013 population of 850,965.
South Carolina is composed of five geographic areas, or physiographic provinces, whose boundaries roughly parallel the Atlantic coastline. In the southeast part of the state is the Atlantic Coastal Plain, which can be divided into the Outer and Inner Coastal Plains. From north to south the coast is divided into three separate areas, the Grand Strand, the Santee River Delta, and the Sea Islands. Further inland are the Sandhills, ancient dunes from what used to be South Carolinas coast millions of years ago. The Fall Line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers, runs along the boundary of the Sandhills and the Piedmont, which has rolling hills and clay soils. In the northwest corner of the state are the Blue Ridge Mountains, the smallest geographical region in the state.
The states 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 Carolinas 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.
About 30 Native American Tribes lived in what is now South Carolina at the time the first Europeans arrived in the region. The most important were the Catawba (who spoke a Siouan language), Cherokee (who spoke an Iroquoian language), and Yamasee (Muskhogean language). It is believed that the first humans settled in the current South Carolina about 15,000 years ago.
The first European to land was Francisco Gordillo in 1521, from Spain. Five years later, in 1526, another Spaniard, Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon, founded the first European settlement in the territory that now constitutes the United States. This settlement was named San Miguel de Gualdape and was founded with 600 settlers, including African slaves, but was abandoned three months later. The region would later be claimed by both the Spanish and the French. The French made several attempts at colonization which failed because of the hostility of Indian tribes and a lack of provisions.
England claimed the current South Carolina at the beginning of seventeenth century. In 1629, King Charles I gave the southern colonies to Robert Heath. This colony included the regions that now constitute North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Heath named this colony Carolana, a Latin word which means Land of Charles.