South Caroli'na, one of the original states of the American Union, with an area of 30,570 sq. m., including 400 sq. m. of water-surface, is nearly triangular in outline, and is bounded by North Carolina, the Atlantic Ocean, and Georgia. Numerous islands of the southern part of the coast are separated from the mainland and from each other by shallow sounds and inlets. For 100 miles inland the land is generally low and level, much of it still covered with pine forests. West of this alluvial plain is a range of undulating sandhills about 60 miles in width. Farther west the 'ridge-country' rises, generally abruptly, from the Savannah to the Broad River on the north, presenting a region of rare beauty and fertility; its average elevation is 2000 feet, and several peaks of the Blue Ridge range, in the NW., rise to about 4000 feet. Most of the rivers - the largest the Santee - are navigable by steamboats nearly to the foot-slope of the ridge region, where they supply abundant water-power. The state is rich in mineral products. There are goldmines in York, Lancaster, Chesterfield, and Spartanburg counties. Granite is abundant in several counties; itacolumite is quarried for grindstones; and superior kaolin, used for artificial teeth, is obtained. But the most important mineral product of South Carolina is its famous deposit of phosphate rock, extending about 70 miles by 30 parallel with the coast N. of Charleston. Gray iron ore (magnetite) is found; great wealth of phosphates (for fertilisers); also copper pyrites, galena, limonite, malachite, pyrolusite, and pyro-morphite, or phosphate of lead. Deer, wild turkeys, racoons, foxes, squirrels, and other small game are still numerous in the forests; and the rivers, sounds, and inlets are stocked with fish. Alligators inhabit the tidal rivers. The most important agricultural products are cotton, of which nearly 900,000 bales are harvested yearly, maize, oats, wheat, peas, hay and forage.
South Carolina, called the Palmetto State from the growth of the cabbage-tree (Sabal palmetto) near the coast, had in 1880 a pop. of 995,557, in 1900 of 1,340,316, comprising 782,321 coloured persons. There are 16 towns of over 4000 inhabitants. Charleston has a pop. of 57,000, and Columbia, the capital, of 25,000. The mild climate is salubrious except in the rice-lands. The low islands along the coast afford summer-resorts, as well as the western mountain-region known as 'the land of the sky.' The average rainfall in the E. is from 42 to 44 inches. On the coast cyclones are often destructive. On the night of August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake.
In 1562 a party of French Protestants built a fort on an island in the harbour of Port Royal, and named it Arx Carolina, in honour of Charles IX., but soon returned to France. In 1630 Sir Robert Heath obtained a grant from Charles I. of a vast territory, to be called Carolana, reaching to the Gulf of Mexico, but failure to colonise forfeited the title. In 1662 Charles II. granted to Lord Clarendon and seven associates all the territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific lying between 31° and 36° N. (later to 36° 30' N). In 1670 three ship-loads of English settlers under William Sayle landed near Port Royal, and in 1680 settled on the site of Charleston. The proprietary government under the 'model Constitution,' drawn up by John Locke (see North Carolina), lasted till 1729, when George II. bought out the proprietors and divided Carolina into two royal provinces. Many French Huguenots came to South Carolina, one of the most flourishing of the British colonies, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. In 1671 Sir John Yeamans, the governor, brought from Barbadoes 200 negro slaves; the blacks in a few years nearly equalled the whites, and since 1820 have been more numerous. South Carolina was the first to ratify the Articles of Confederation in 1788, and the first to secede from the Union in 1860, being re-admitted in 1865.