South Carolina

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South Carolina

South Carolina is a state in the coastal Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River. South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and 23rd most populous U.S. state with a recorded population of 5,124,712 according to the 2020 census. In 2019, its GDP was $213.45 billion. South Carolina is composed of 46 counties. The capital is Columbia with a population of 133,273 in 2019; while its largest city is Charleston with a 2020 population of 150,277. The Greenville–Spartanburg-Anderson metropolitan area is the most populous in the state, with a 2018 population estimate of 906,626.

Geography

Regions

The state can be divided into three natural geographic areas which then can be subdivided into five distinct cultural regions. The natural environment is divided from east to west by the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Culturally, the coastal plain is split into the Lowcountry and the Pee Dee region. While, the upper Piedmont region is referred to as the Piedmont and the lower Piedmont region is referred to as the Midlands. The area surrounding the Blue Ridge Mountains is known as the Upstate. The Atlantic Coastal Plain makes up two-thirds of the state. Its eastern border is the Sea Islands, a chain of tidal and barrier islands. The border between the lowcountry and the upcountry is defined by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers.

Atlantic Coastal Plain

The Atlantic Coastal Plain consists of sediments and sedimentary rocks that range in age from Cretaceous to Present. The terrain is relatively flat and the soil is composed predominantly of sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of low-relief topographic depressions named Carolina bays. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The eastern portion of the coastal plain contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion.

The Sandhills or Carolina Sandhills is a 10–35 mi (16–56 km) wide region within the Atlantic Coastal Plain province, along the inland margin of this province. The Carolina Sandhills are interpreted as eolian (wind-blown) sand sheets and dunes that were mobilized episodically from approximately 75,000 to 6,000 years ago. Most of the published luminescence ages from the sand are coincident with the last glaciation, a time when the southeastern United States was characterized by colder air temperatures and stronger winds.

Piedmont

The Atlantic Coastal Plain consists of sediments and sedimentary rocks that range in age from Cretaceous to Present. The terrain is relatively flat and the soil is composed predominantly of sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of low-relief topographic depressions named Carolina bays. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The eastern portion of the coastal plain contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion.

The Sandhills or Carolina Sandhills is a 10–35 mi (16–56 km) wide region within the Atlantic Coastal Plain province, along the inland margin of this province. The Carolina Sandhills are interpreted as eolian (wind-blown) sand sheets and dunes that were mobilized episodically from approximately 75,000 to 6,000 years ago. Most of the published luminescence ages from the sand are coincident with the last glaciation, a time when the southeastern United States was characterized by colder air temperatures and stronger winds.

Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge consists primarily of Precambrian metamorphic rocks, and the landscape has relatively high relief. The Blue Ridge Region contains an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains that continues into North Carolina and Georgia as part of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest point at 3,560 feet (1,090 m), is in this area. Also in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion. The Chattooga River, on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination

Climate

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although high-elevation areas in the Upstate area have fewer subtropical characteristics than areas on the Atlantic coastline. In the summer, South Carolina is hot and humid, with daytime temperatures averaging between 86–93 °F (30–34 °C) in most of the state and overnight lows averaging 70–75 °F (21–24 °C) on the coast and from 66–73 °F (19–23 °C) inland. Winter temperatures are much less uniform in South Carolina.

Coastal areas of the state have very mild winters, with high temperatures approaching an average of 60 °F (16 °C) and overnight lows around 40 °F (5–8 °C). Inland, the average January overnight low is around 32 °F (0 °C) in Columbia and temperatures well below freezing in the Upstate. While precipitation is abundant the entire year in almost the entire state, the coast tends to have a slightly wetter summer, while inland, the spring and autumn transitions tend to be the wettest periods and winter the driest season, with November being the driest month. The highest recorded temperature is 113 °F (45 °C) in Johnston and Columbia on June 29, 2012, and the lowest recorded temperature is −19 °F (−28 °C) at Caesars Head on January 21, 1985.

Snowfall in South Carolina is minimal in the lower elevation areas south and east of Columbia. It is not uncommon for areas along the southernmost coast to not receive measurable snowfall for several years. In the Piedmont and Foothills, especially along and north of Interstate 85, measurable snowfall occurs one to three times in most years. Annual average total amounts range from 2 to 6 inches. The Blue Ridge Escarpment receives the most average total measurable snowfall; amounts range from 7 to 12 inches.

Population Centers

Some Primary Statistical Areas of South Carolina overlap with neighbouring states of North Carolina and Georgia

Demographics

The 2020 census determined the state had a population of 5,118,425. The United States Census Bureau estimates the population of South Carolina was 5,148,714 on July 1, 2019, an 11.31 percentage increase since the 2010 census. As of the 2017 census estimate, the racial make up of the state is 68.5% White (63.8% non-Hispanic white), 27.3% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.9% from two or more races. 5.7% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race.

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2019, South Carolina had an estimated population of 5,148,714, which is an increase of 64,587 from the prior year and an increase of 523,350, or 11.31%, since the year 2010. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 36,401 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 115,084 people. According to the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, South Carolina’s foreign-born population grew faster than any other state between 2000 and 2005. South Carolina has banned sanctuary cities.

Religion

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010, the largest religion is Christianity, of which the largest denominations were the Southern Baptist Convention with 913,763 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 274,111 adherents, and the Roman Catholic Church with 181,743 adherents. Fourth-largest is the African Methodist Episcopal Church with 564 congregations and 121,000 members and fifth-largest is the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 320 congregations and almost 100,000 members.

As of 2010, South Carolina is the American state with the highest per capita proportion of citizens who follow the Baháʼí Faith, with 17,559 adherents, making Baháʼí the second-largest religion in the state.

Economy and Infrastructure

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010, the largest religion is Christianity, of which the largest denominations were the Southern Baptist Convention with 913,763 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 274,111 adherents, and the Roman Catholic Church with 181,743 adherents. Fourth-largest is the African Methodist Episcopal Church with 564 congregations and 121,000 members and fifth-largest is the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 320 congregations and almost 100,000 members.

As of 2010, South Carolina is the American state with the highest per capita proportion of citizens who follow the Baháʼí Faith, with 17,559 adherents, making Baháʼí the second-largest religion in the state.

Roads

The state has the fourth largest state-maintained system in the country, consisting of 11 Interstates, numbered highways, state highways, and secondary roads, totalling approximately 41,500 miles. On secondary roads, South Carolina uses a numbering system to keep track of all non-interstate and primary highways that the South Carolina Department of Transportation maintains. Secondary roads are numbered by the number of the county followed by a unique number for the particular road.

Rail

Amtrak operates four passenger routes in South Carolina: the Crescent, the Palmetto, the Silver Meteor, and the Silver Star. The Crescent route serves the Upstate cities, the Silver Star serves the Midlands cities, and the Palmetto and Silver Meteor routes serve the lowcountry cities.

Major and regional Airports

There are seven significant airports in South Carolina, all of which act as regional airport hubs. The busiest by passenger volume is Charleston International Airport. Just across the border in North Carolina is Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the 30th busiest airport in the world, in terms of passengers.

Education

As of 2010, South Carolina is one of three states that have not agreed to use competitive international math and language standards. In 2014, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the state had failed to provide a “minimally adequate” education to children in all parts of the state as required by the state’s constitution. South Carolina has 1,144 K–12 schools in 85 school districts with an enrollment of 712,244 as of fall 2009. As of the 2008–2009 school year, South Carolina spent $9,450 per student which places it 31st in the country for per student spending.

In 2015, the national average SAT score was 1490 and the South Carolina average was 1442, 48 points lower than the national average.

South Carolina is the only state which owns and operates a statewide school bus system. As of December 2016, the state maintains a 5,582-bus fleet with the average vehicle in service being fifteen years old (the national average is six) having logged 236,000 miles. Half of the state’s school buses are more than 15 years old and some are reportedly up to 30 years old. In 2017 in the budget proposal, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman requested the state lease to purchase 1,000 buses to replace the most decrepit vehicles. An additional 175 buses could be purchased immediately through the State Treasurer’s master lease program. On January 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded South Carolina more than $1.1 million to replace 57 school buses with new cleaner models through its Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program.

Culture

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. Several large venues can house major events, including Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, and North Charleston Coliseum. 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.

Sports

Although no major league professional sports teams are based in South Carolina, the Carolina Panthers have training facilities in the state and played their inaugural season's home games at Clemson's Memorial Stadium in 1995. They now play at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers consider themselves "The Carolinas' Team" and refrained from naming themselves after Charlotte or either of the Carolinas. The state is also home to numerous minor league professional teams.

College teams represent their particular South Carolina institutions, and are the primary options for football, basketball and baseball attendance in the state. South Carolina is also a top destination for golf and water sports. South Carolina is also home to one of NASCAR's first tracks and its first paved speedway, Darlington Raceway, located northwest of Florence.

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