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. It was readmitted to the United States on June 25, 1868.
South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and the 24th most populous of the 50 United 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 theSandhills, ancient dunes from what used to be South Carolina's 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 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.
Highest in elevation is the Blue Ridge Region, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue into North Carolina andGeorgia, 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 raftingdestination.
South Carolina has several major lakes covering over 683 square miles (1,770 km2). The following are the lakes listed by size.
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 ofIndian 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 word Latin which means 'Land of Charles'.
The colony of Carolina was settled by wealthy English aristocrats, mostly migrating from Barbados, where they had already set up sugar plantations. King Charles gave eight aristocrats a royal charter to settle Carolina (Carolina is Latin for "Charles land") because earlier they had helped him regain his throne. Parts of Carolina (mostly the coastal areas) had been colonized earlier by Spain (see Fort Caroline), but battles between the Spanish and the Native Americans resulted in the Spanish people retreating to Florida, Cuba, Mexico, and Central and South America.
Carolina was settled to make profit from trade and also by selling land. John Locke, an English philosopher, wrote a constitution for the colony that covered topics such as land divisions and social rankings. In the early years, not many people bought land there, so the proprietors lowered the price on some portions.
Carolina did not develop as planned. It split into northern and southern Carolina, creating two different colonies. It separated because of political reasons as the settlers wanted political power. In 1719 settlers in southern Carolina seized control from its proprietors. Then, in 1729, Carolina became two royal colonies- North Carolina and South Carolina. Farmers from inland Virginia settled northern Carolina. They grew tobacco, and sold timber and tar, both categories of naval stores needed by England. The northern Carolina coast lacked a good harbor, so many of the farmers used Virginia's ports to conduct their trade.
Southern Carolina prospered from the fertility of the Low Country and the harbors, such as that at Charles Town (later Charleston). It allowed religious toleration, encouraging settlement by merchants from the successful French Huguenot and Sephardic Jewish communities of London. Settlements spread, and trade in deerskin, lumber, and beef thrived. Rice cultivation was developed on a large scale with the help of skills and techniques of slaves imported from rice-growing regions of Africa. They created the large earthworks of dams and canals required to irrigate the rice fields. In addition, indigo became a commodity crop, also developed with the skills of African slaves.
The cultivation and processing of Indigo plant, a blue flowering plant, was developed here by a young English woman, Eliza Lucas, a planter's daughter who had come with her father, also a military officer, from the Caribbean. She took over managing the plantation when he was assigned elsewhere. Indigo became an important commodity crop for the dyeing of textiles. Slave labor was integral to the economic success of rice and indigo as commodity crops. In South Carolina, slaves made up a majority of the population after 1708, and the demand for labor was so high that many were imported from Africa.
After the Stono Rebellion of 1739, the colony prohibited importing African slaves through Charleston for ten years, having observed they were more likely to cause rebellions than slaves from the Caribbean, who were already "seasoned" or those born in the colony. Slaves and their descendants comprised a majority of the population of the state through the American Civil War and to the turn of the 20th century.
South Carolina has many venues for visual and performing arts. The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Columbia Museum of Art, Spartanburg Art Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia among others provide access to visual arts to the state. There are also numerous historic sites and museums scattered throughout the state paying homage to many events and periods in the state's history from Native American inhabitation to the present day.
South Carolina also has performing art venues including the Peace Center in Greenville, the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia, and the Newberry Opera House, among others to bring local, national, and international talent to the stages of South Carolina. There are several large venues in the state that can house major events, such as Colonial Life Arena in Columbia,Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, and North Charleston Coliseum.
One of the nation's major performing arts festivals, Spoleto Festival USA, is held annually in Charleston. There are also countless local festivals throughout the state highlighting many cultural traditions, historical events, and folklore.
According to the South Carolina Arts Commission, creative industries generate $9.2 billion annually and support over 78,000 jobs in the state. A 2009 statewide poll by the University of South Carolina Institute for Public Service and Policy Research found that 67% of residents had participated in the arts in some form during the past year and on average citizens had participated in the arts 14 times in the previous year.
A number of influential individuals in American life are from South Carolina. Please see main article: List of people from South Carolina
The alcohol laws of South Carolina are part of the state's history. Voters endorsed prohibition in 1892 but instead were given the "Dispensary System" of state-owned liquor stores. Currently, certain counties may enforce time restrictions for beer and wine sales in stores, although there are no dry counties in South Carolina.
South Carolina has no statewide smoke-free indoor workplace law. On March 31, 2008, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that cities, counties, and towns may enact smoke-free laws which are more stringent than state law. As of July 2012, five South Carolina counties and 43 cities and towns have adopted smoke-free laws.