90 Interesting Facts About South Carolina

Interesting South Carolina facts

South Carolina is famous for its beaches, peaches, Southern hospitality, gardens, and historic districts. Find out what else the “Palmetto State” is known for with these fascinating and fun facts about South Carolina.

General South Carolina Facts

1. South Carolina is located in the nation’s southeastern coastal region. It is the easternmost state in the “Deep South”.

2. South Carolina was one of the original 13 colonies of the US. North and South Carolina had originally been one colony, but they were separated due to economic differences.

3. The state is bordered by North Carolina to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Georgia to the west.

4. South Carolina has a total area of 32,020 mi² (82,932 km²). It is the 11th smallest state, between Maine and West Virginia in terms of size.

5. If it were a country, the state would be a similar size as the United Arab Emirates or Austria.

6. South Carolina is divided into two regions: the Upcountry region and the Lowcountry region. Geographically, it consists of coastal plains, the Piedmont plateau, and Blue Ridge Mountains.

7. With a population of 5.19 million, South Carolina is the country’s 23rd most populous state. Its population is just above Alabama but just below Minnesota.

Aerial view of the skyline of downtown Columbia, the capital of South Carolina
Downtown Columbia

8. Columbia is the capital city of South Carolina (not to be confused with Columbia, Missouri). With 138,000 people (metropolitan 800,000), it is the 202nd largest city in the country.

9. Columbia is just barely surpassed in population by Charleston, which has 156,000 people (metropolitan 800,000).

10. The region of South Carolina was originally inhabited by the following Native American tribes: the Pee Dee, Yamassee, Catawba, Chicora-Waccamaw, Chicora, Santee, and Edisto.

11. The two-letter abbreviation of South Carolina is SC.

12. Residents of South Carolina are called South Carolinians.

Aerial view of the houses of Charleston, South Carolina with a church steeple poking out
Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina

13. South Carolina is named after King Charles I and King Charles II of England, as Carolus is Latin for Charles.

14. Before South Carolina became known as the “Palmetto State” (after its state tree), it was known as the “Iodine State” because vegetation growing there contains a high level of iodine. Yet another nickname that has appeared on license plates is “Keystone of the South Atlantic Seaboard”.

15. The Sabal Palmetto tree is also featured on South Carolina’s state seal and its Mint quarter.

16. South Carolina has two state mottos. The first one is “Animis Opibusque Parati” which is Latin for “Prepared in Mind and Resources”, and the second one is “Dum Spiro Spero” which is Latin for “While I Breathe, I Hope”.

17. Some tourism slogans for South Carolina have included “While I breathe, I hope”, Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places”, and “South Carolina: Come on Over!”

Carolina's state flag
The state flag of South Carolina

18. The state’s a crescent (representing South Carolina troops in the revolutionary war) and Sabal Palmetto (the state tree) on a dark blue background.

19. Boiled peanuts are the official state snack.

20. Grits are a symbol of the state’s unique culinary traditions. Considered a comfort food and a staple in South Carolina, grits are the official state food.

Random Interesting Facts About South Carolina

21. Due West, Coward, Welcome, South of the Border, and Ninety-Six are all real names of towns in South Carolina.

22. A border collie in South Carolina has the largest vocabulary of any known dog. It knows 1022 nouns.

A marsh with trees growing around it in Congaree National Park
Flood plains of Congaree National Park

23. South Carolina is home to 1 national park: Congaree National Park. It protects the largest section of old-growth floodplain in North America, along the Congaree River.

24. There are also 47 state parks in South Carolina. The largest is Caesars Head State Park, named after a rock formation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The most visited is Hunting Island State Park, which features a lighthouse with the same name and one of the best beaches in the country.

25. There are 76 National Historic Landmarks in South Carolina, a list that includes historic gardens, archaeological sites, a submarine, destroyer, aircraft carrier, fort, textile mill, and numerous historic mansions.

26. The entire Charleston Historic District is a National Historic Landmark with an abnormally high number of well-preserved historic architecture.

27. South Carolina is the 7th most visited state in the US. People go there for its forests, beaches, fishing, golf courses, and gardens.

Huge Ferris wheel on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at dusk with a dark blue sky
Myrtle Beach

28. Myrtle Beach, a coastal city that is part of a 60 mi (97 km) stretch of beach called The Grand Strand, attracts over 20 million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular beaches in the country.

29. The Charleston Museum is considered one of the oldest in the country, having been founded in 1773.

30. The College of Charleston, founded in 1770, was the first municipal college in the country.

31. The Town Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina, was one of the first community theatres in the country, opening in 1924.

32. South Carolina has the largest concentration of Baha’i followers in the United States, with around 18,000 practitioners of the faith in the state.

A basket of peaches that says "SC peaches" on it
South Carolina peaches

33. East of the Mississippi River, South Carolina leads the nation in peach production and shipment. Johnston, South Carolina is considered the “Peach Capital of the World”.

34. The automotive industry is also one of the largest industries in South Carolina. In fact, the state is one of the leading states in automotive manufacturing.

35. According to folklore, if you drink water from Catfish Creek in Marion, you’ll become infatuated with the place and want to stay forever.

36. The birthplace of Southern sweet tea is Summerville, South Carolina. In fact, there’s even a Sweet Tea Festival and Sweet Tea Trail, a tour of sweet tea sights in town.

37. University of South Carolina in Columbia recorded the state’s all-time highest temperature of 113°F (45°C) on June 29, 2012, while the lowest was recorded at Caesars Head: -19°F (-28.33°C) on January 21, 1985.

A view of the peak of Sassafras Mountain
Sassafras Mountain, the tallest point in South Carolina

38. At 3,560 feet (1,085 meters) above sea level, Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina, while the lowest point is sea level.

39. The state experiences 10-15 earthquakes on average each year, usually with a magnitude below 3 (FEMA), as well as an average of 14 tornadoes each year.

40. South Carolina has been a filming location for many popular movies, including “Prince of Tides”, “The Notebook”, “Swamp Thing”, “Prince of Tides”, and “Full Metal Jacket”.

41. Popular actresses and actors from South Carolina include Chris Rock, Viola Davis, Andie MacDowell, Mary-Louise Parker, Jaimie Alexander, Chadwick Boseman, and Aziz Ansari.

42. Famous South Carolina singers include James Brown, Chubby Checker, Hootie and the Blowfish, Eartha Kitt, Linda Martell, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Angie Stone, and Coco Jones.

A mosaic of famous people from South Carolina
Famous South Carolinians Septima Clark, James Brown, Chubby Checker, Kevin Garnett, Chris Rock, and Mary-Louise Parker (clockwise from top-left)

43. South Carolinian basketball player Kevin Garnett is considered one of the best power forwards of all time.

44. Dave Cockrum, creator of several X-Men characters, died at his home in Belton, South Carolina in 2006.

45. South Carolina was the birthplace of Septima Clark, a civil rights activist and educator who is otherwise known as the “Mother of the Movement”.

46. Another civil rights advocate was Modjeska Monteith Simkins, who was a public health worker in South Carolina.

47. Althea Gibson of South Carolina became the first female African American to win a Grand Slam title in Tennis.

The logos of two famous South Carolina brands, Michelin and Denny's
Michelin and Denny’s, two brands associated with South Carolina

48. The North American headquarters of Michelin (the tire company and guidebook creator from France) is in Greenville, South Carolina.

49. The famous diner chain Denny’s was founded in Los Angeles, California but is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

50. Benne Wafers and Blenheim Ginger Ale are two famous products invented in South Carolina.

51. Ernest Everett Just of South Carolina played an important role in the development of egg fertilization.

52. South Carolina is the only state in the nation to own and operate its own school bus fleet.

53. The state with the lowest percentage of women in the state legislature is South Carolina. The national average of women in the state legislature is 23.7%, while South Carolina only has an average of 10%.

A famous cookie and drink from South Carolina
Benne Wafers and Blenheim Ginger Ale, two famous South Carolina products

54. In South Carolina, fishing with a yo-yo or dynamite is officially against the law.

55. It’s also technically illegal to buy or sell electric eels in South Carolina.

56. Fortune tellers are required to obtain a special permit from the state by law.

57. It’s also against the law to keep horses in bathtubs.

58. If railroad companies scare horses, they may be held liable.

59. By law, nothing may be sold on Sundays except for light bulbs.

60. In Lancaster, South Carolina dancing in public is against the law.

61. While trying to commit suicide, if you inadvertently kill someone it’s both against the law and a capital offense.

Historical Facts About South Carolina

62. Before the dinosaurs, the state was mostly covered in a trilobite-infested shallow sea. The dinosaur era is missing from South Carolina’s fossil record.

63. The first human remains in South Carolina date to around 15,000 years ago.

A marshland on an island on the coast of South Carolina, with grasses growing out from the water and tree branches framing the scene
The marshy coast of South Carolina

64. When Europeans first arrived in the 1500s, there were 29 native tribes with 4 language groups living in the area.

65. On 24 June 1521, the first recorded Spanish expedition reached the coast near Winyah Bay.

66. The Carolina coast was scouted by the first French ship in 1524.

67. In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto explored the area in search of gold.

68. In August 1526, the first attempt at a settlement was made by the Spanish: San Miguel de Gualdape, near Winyah Bay. The colony failed within a year and of the 500 settlers, only 150 lived to return home.

69. A fort was built by the French on Paris Island in 1562, but they soon left.

70. The earliest permanent settler in South Carolina was Nathaniel Batts in 1653.

A row of canons in the ruins of a fort in Charleston
Canons at an old fort in Charleston

71. The Carolina Charter was signed by King Charles II on April 6, 1663, making Carolina into an official colony of England.

72. The British established the first permanent European settlement near Charleston in 1670.

73. In 1712, the Carolina colony was separated into North and South Carolina.

74. By 1730, two-thirds of the colony’s population was made up of people of African descent, most of them slaves.

75. In 1788, South Carolina became the 8th state to join the Union, with Charleston as its capital.

76. The state capital was moved to Columbia in 1790.

77. In 1829, Andrew Jackson of South Carolina became the 7th president of the United States.

Fort Sumter with the ocean behind it
Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began

78. South Carolina became the first state to join the Confederacy and secede from the Union in 1860.

79. The Civil War began in 1861 at the Battle of Fort Sumter, near Charleston.

80. South Carolina was readmitted into the Union in 1868.

81. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1935.

82. On November 2, 1954, former South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond became the first write-in candidate to be elected in the US Senate. He won 63% of the vote and went on to serve as senator for the next 47 years.

83. The first racially integrated high school in South Carolina was Charleston’s Rivers High School in September 1963.

84. In 1989, major damage was caused to South Carolina by Hurricane Hugo, the largest hurricane to strike the continental US in 20 years.

Aerial view of the state capitol building and surrounding area in Columbia, South Carolina
The South Carolina State Capitol in Columbia

85. BMW opened an automobile plant in Greer, South Carolina in 1992.

86. In 2000, the Confederate flag was removed from the state capital.

87. The mandating of gold and silver to replace South Carolina’s federal currency was introduced by Legislation in 2010.

88. In 2011, 16 nations from the Caribbean and Latin America challenged the South Carolina’s immigration laws.

89. In 2015, nine Blacks were killed in a church shooting in Charleston. It was one of the oldest Black churches in the US and a center of civil rights.

90. In 2021, South Carolina led the country in number of COVID cases and hospitalizations at several points.

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