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South Carolina

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ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named in honor of King Charles I of England.

NICKNAME: The Palmetto State.

CAPITAL: Columbia.

ENTERED UNION: 23 May 1788 (8th).

SONG: "Carolina;" "South Carolina on My Mind."

MOTTO: Animis opibusque parati (Prepared in mind and resources); Dum spiro spero (While I breathe, I hope).

COAT OF ARMS: A palmetto stands erect, with a ravaged oak (representing the British fleet) at its base; 12 spears, symbolizing the first 12 states, are bound crosswise to the palmetto's trunk by a band bearing the inscription "Quis separabit" (Who shall separate?). Two shields bearing the inscriptions "March 26" (the date in 1776 when South Carolina established its first independent government) and "July 4," respectively, hang from the tree. Under the oak are the words "Meliorem lapsa locavit" (Having fallen, it has set up a better one) and the year "1776." The words "South Carolina" and the motto Animis opibusque parati surround the whole.

FLAG: Blue field with a white palmetto in the center and a white crescent at the union.

OFFICIAL SEAL: The official seal consists of two ovals showing the original designs for the obverse and the reverse of South Carolina's great seal of 1777. left (obverse): same as the coat of arms. right (reverse): as the sun rises over the seashore, Hope, holding a laurel branch, walks over swords and daggers. The motto Dum spiro spero is above her, the word "Spes" (Hope) below.

BIRD: Carolina wren; wild turkey (wild game bird).

FISH: Striped bass.

FLOWER: Yellow jessamine.

TREE: Palmetto.

GEM: Amethyst.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. 3rd Monday in January; Washington's Birthday/Presidents' Day, 3rd Monday in February; Confederate Memorial Day, 10 May; National Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Eve, 24 December, when declared by the governor; Christmas Day, 25 December and the day following.

TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.


Situated in the southeastern United States, South Carolina ranks 40th in size among the 50 states.

The state's total area is 31,113 sq mi (80,583 sq km), of which land takes up 30,203 sq mi (78,226 sq km) and inland water 910 sq mi (2,357 sq km). South Carolina extends 273 mi (439 km) e-w; its maximum n-s extension is 210 mi (338 km).

South Carolina is bounded on the n and ne by North Carolina; on the se by the Atlantic Ocean; and on the sw and w by Georgia (with the line passing through the Savannah and Chattooga rivers).

Among the 13 major Sea Islands in the Atlantic off South Carolina are Bull, Sullivans, Kiawah, Edisto, Hunting, and Hilton Head, the largest island (42 sq mi — 109 sq km) on the Atlantic seaboard between New Jersey and Florida. The total boundary length of South Carolina is 824 mi (1,326 km), including a general coastline of 187 mi (301 km); the tidal shoreline extends 2,876 mi (4,628 km). The state's geographic center is located in Richland County, 13 mi (21 km) se of Columbia.


South Carolina is divided into two major regions by the fall line that runs through the center of the state from Augusta, Georgia, to Columbia and thence to Cheraw, near the North Carolina border. The area northwest of the line, known as the upcountry, lies within the Piedmont Plateau; the region to the southeast, called the low country, forms part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The rise of the land from ocean to the fall line is very gradual: Columbia, 120 mi (193 km) inland, is only 135 ft (41 m) above sea level. In the extreme northwest, the Blue Ridge Mountains cover about 500 sq mi (1,300 sq km); the highest elevation, at 3,560 ft (1,086 m), is Sassafras Mountain. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 350 ft (107 m).

Among the many artificial lakes, mostly associated with electric power plants, is Lake Marion, the state's largest, covering 173 sq mi (48 sq km). Three river systems — the Pee Dee, Santee, and Savannah — drain most of the state. No rivers are navigable above the fall line.


South Carolina has a humid, subtropical climate. Average temperatures range from 68 ° f (20 ° c) on the coast to 58 ° f (14 ° c) in the northwest, with colder temperatures in the mountains. Summers are hot: in the central part of the state, temperatures often exceed 90 ° f (32 ° c), with a record of 111 ° f (44 ° c) set at Camden on 28 June 1954. In the northwest, temperatures of 32 ° f (0 ° c) or less occur from 50 to 70 days a year; the record low for the state is − 20 ° f ( − 29 ° c), set at Caesars Head Mountain on 18 January 1977. The daily average temperature at Columbia is 45 ° f (7 ° c) in January and 82 ° f (27 ° c) in July.

Rainfall is ample throughout the state, averaging 48.7 in (123 cm) annually at Columbia and ranging from 38 in (97 cm) in the central region to 52 in (132 cm) in the upper piedmont. Snow and sleet (averaging 2 in/5 cm a year at Columbia) occur about three times annually, but more frequently and heavily in the mountains.


Principal trees of South Carolina include palmetto (the state tree), balsam fir, beech, yellow birch, pitch pine, cypress, and several types of maple, ash, hickory, and oak; longleaf pine grows mainly south of the fall line. Rocky areas of the piedmont contain a wide mixture of moss and lichens. The coastal plain has a diversity of land formations — swamp, prairie, savannah, marsh, dunes — and, accordingly, a great number of different grasses, shrubs, and vines. Azaleas and camellias, not native to the state, have been planted profusely in private and pubic gardens. Nineteen plant species were listed as threatened or endangered in April 2006, including smooth coneflower, Schweinitz's sunflower, black spored quillwort, pondberry, and persistent trillium.

South Carolina mammals include white-tailed deer (the state animal), black bear, opossum, gray and red foxes, cottontail and marsh rabbits, mink, and woodchuck. Three varieties of raccoon are indigenous, one of them unique to Hilton Head Island. The state is also home to Bachman's shrew, originally identified in South Carolina by John Bachman, one of John J. Audubon's collaborators. Common birds include the mockingbird and Carolina wren (the state bird). Nineteen animal species

(vertebrates and invertebrates) were listed as threatened or endangered in South Carolina in April 2006, including the Indiana bat, Carolina heel-splitter, bald eagle, five species of sea turtle, wood stork, and short-nose sturgeon.


The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), established in 1973, is South Carolina's primary environmental protection agency. The agency's responsibilities were broadened in 1993 by government restructuring, which brought all natural resources permitting under the DHEC umbrella. The former Land Resources Commission and Water Resources Commission were dissolved by restructuring. The DHEC's areas of responsibility include all programs dealing with surface and groundwater protection; air quality; solid, hazardous, infectious and nuclear waste; mining; dam safety; public drinking water protection; shellfish; public swimming pool inspection; and environmental laboratory certification, among other things. In 2002, more than 99% of the state's 1,520 federally defined public water systems had complied with drinking water regulatory requirements.

The state has implemented an innovative river basin planning program for the modeling, permitting and protection of its surface water resources. South Carolina's five major river basins are to be studied, modeled, and subsequent permits renewed on a five-year rotating basis. The state's goal is to use the environmental permitting process to assess and control the overall health of the basin systems. About 25% of the state is covered with wetlands, most of which are forested and of freshwater.

In 2002 DHEC implemented programs to help citizens minimize risk of contracting West Nile virus, transmitted by mosquitoes.

South Carolina, as the rest of the nation, is preparing to implement an aggressive air quality permitting program. The state has in place an industrial fee system to support the air program which will include both stationary and mobile source activities.

In 1992, South Carolina passed the Solid Waste Management and Policy Act requiring county and regional solid waste planning to be in conformance with the State Solid Waste Management Plan. The state has in place innovative programs for source reduction, waste minimization, and recycling. Regulations have been approved for municipal and industrial waste land disposal systems, incineration, construction, and land clearing debris and other solid waste activities.

South Carolina has implemented aggressive regulatory reform. Coupled with "streamlined permitting," customer-friendly programs promote economic development without sacrificing environmental protection.

In 2003, 83.7 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. In 2003, South Carolina had 194 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 26 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot. In 2005, the EPA spent over $4.8 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $11 million for the clean water state revolving fund and $8 million for the drinking water revolving fund.


South Carolina ranked 25th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 4,255,083 in 2005, an increase of 6.1% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, South Carolina's population grew from 3,486,703 to 4,012,012, an increase of 15.1%. The population is projected to reach 4.6 million by 2015 and 4.98 million by 2025. In 2004, the median age for South Carolinians was 36.9. In the same year, 24.4% of the populace was under age 18 while 12.4% was age 65 or older. The population density in 2004 was 139.4 persons per sq mi.

In 2004, Columbia was the largest city proper, with 116,331 residents. Other cities with large population concentrations include Charleston (104,883), Greenville, and Spartanburg. In 2004, the Columbia metropolitan area had an estimated 679,456 residents and the Charleston metropolitan area had 583,434.


The white population of South Carolina is mainly of Northern European stock; the great migratory wave from Southern and Eastern Europe during the late 19th century left South Carolina virtually untouched. As of 2000, 115,978, or 2.9%, of South Carolinians were foreign born (up from 1.4% in 1990).

In 2000, the black population was 1,185,216, or 29.5% of the state's population (the third-highest percentage in the nation). In 2004, that percentage had dropped only slightly, to 29.4%. In the coastal regions and offshore islands there still can be found some vestiges of African heritage, notably the Gullah dialect. South Carolina has always had an urban black elite, much of it of mixed racial heritage. After 1954, racial integration proceeded relatively peacefully, with careful planning by both black and white leaders.

The 2000 census counted 13,718 American Indians, up from 8,000 in 1990. In 2004, 0.4% of the population was American Indian. In 1983, a federal appeals court upheld the Indians' claim that 144,000 acres (58,275 hectares) of disputed land still belonged to the Catawba tribe, who numbered an estimated 1,597 in 1995. In 2000, there were 95,076 Hispanics and Latinos (2.4% of the total population), nearly double the 1990 figure of 50,000 (1.3%). In 2004, 3.1% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino origin. In 2000, the census reported 52,871 Mexicans and 12.211 Puerto Ricans (up from 4,282 in 1990) in South Carolina. In the same year, South Carolina had 36,014 Asians, including 6,423 Filipinos, 2,448 Japanese, and 3,665 Koreans. Pacific Islanders numbered 1,628. In 2004, 1.1% of the population was Asian and 0.1% Pacific Islander. That year, 0.8% of the population reported origin of two or more races.


English settlers in the 17th century encountered first the Yamasee Indians and then the Catawba, both having languages of the Hokan-Siouan family. Few Indians remain today, and a bare handful of their place-names persist: Cherokee Falls, Santee, Saluda.

South Carolina English is marked by a division between the South Midland of the upcountry and the plantation Southern of the coastal plain, where dominant Charleston speech has extensive cultural influence even in rural areas. Many upcountry speakers of Scotch-Irish background retain /r/ after a vowel, as in hard. a feature now gaining acceptance among younger speakers in Charleston. At the same time, a longtime distinctive Charleston feature, a centering glide after a long vowel, so that date and eight sound like /day-uht/ and /ay-uht/, is losing ground among younger speakers. Along the coast and on the Sea Islands, some blacks still use the Gullah dialect, based on a Creole mixture of pre-Revolutionary English and African speech. The dialect is rapidly dying in South Carolina, though its influence on local pronunciations persists.

In 2000, 94.8% of all state residents five years of age and older reported speaking English at home, up from 96.5% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over.

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