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South Carolina Geography

The state of South Carolina is roughly triangular in shape and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina, and Georgia. South Carolina includes portions of three major natural regions of the eastern United States: the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Coastal Plain occupies about two-thirds of the state and rises gently to 500 feet from the Atlantic Ocean up to the Piedmont Plateau. Included in the Coastal Plain are the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina. The Piedmont is an upland area that rises gradually from 400 feet to 1200 feet along the northwestern edge. The Piedmont is separated from the Coastal Plain by a major fall line. The Blue Ridge Mountains, in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, meets the Piedmont. It is a mountainous and mainly forested region. The further east one moves, the flatter the land becomes in South Carolina.

All of the major rivers in South Carolina flow generally southeastward across the state to the Atlantic Ocean. The three major rivers are the Santee, Great Pee Dee, and Savannah. There are no large natural lakes in South Carolina, but several have been created for hydroelectric power purposes. The three largest lakes are Lake Marion - 110,600 acres, Lake Moultrie - 60,400 acres, and Lake Murray - 50,000 acres.

South Carolina 's coastline extends 187 miles. However, if all bays, inlets, and islands are considered the coastline measures 2,876 miles, which is the 11th longest among the 50 states. The northeast section of the coast has few islands, but south of Winyah Bay the coast is dotted with sea islands and bays.

Click here for maps of South Carolina, South Carolina County Map and U.S. Map

Click here for county descriptions:
South Carolina Counties



South Carolina's Climate

South Carolina's climate is humid and subtropical, with long, hot summers and short, mild winters. The subtropical climate of South Carolina arises from the combination of the state's relatively low latitude, its generally low elevation, the proximity of the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and the Appalachian Mountains, which in winter help to screen out cold air from the interior of the United States.The average temperature range in Columbia, SC is 32º-55ºF in January and 70º-92ºF in July. Brief spells of cold weather occur each year in South Carolina. Most of the state receives, on average, 49 inches of precipitation per year. Nearly all precipitation falls as rain, and most precipitation is received during the Spring and Summer. Snow usually occurs only in the mountains and upper Piedmont.

Record Low: -19ºF 1977 Ceasars Head, SC

SC Record High: 111ºF 1925 Blackville, SC and 1954 Camden, SC

South Carolina Climate Atlas

South Carolina's Economy

During most of the 20th century, South Carolina's economy depended heavily on manufacturing, particularly textiles. Today South Carolina's economy is no longer dependent on any one sector. A look at the distribution of jobs by industry in 2000 shows 24 percent are in trade, 22 percent in services, 19 percent in manufacturing, 17 percent in government, 6 percent in construction and 10 percent in all other sectors. In fact, travel and tourism directly accounts for 6 percent of all jobs and 5 percent of gross state product in the state. Agricultural products grown in South Carolina are also important to its economy. Tobacco, grown primarily in the Pee Dee region of the state, is the leading crop and accounts for nearly a quarter of all income from crops. Other major crops are greenhouse and nursery products, cotton lint, soybeans, corn, wheat, fresh tomatoes and peaches. South Carolina is the nation's largest producer of peaches for the fresh market and second only to California in peach production overall. Income from livestock mainly comes from poultry products including broiler chickens, eggs, and turkey. The state also produces cattle and calves, hogs, and dairy products.

Quick Statistics for South Carolina


     31,055 sq miles


Average temperature:
     65 degrees F

Natural resources:
     Forests, farmland, water

Farm products:
     Vegetables, corn, cotton, peaches, tobacco

Major industries:
     Textiles, tourism

River system:
     Pee Dee, Santee, Savannah

Metropolitan centers:
     Columbia (the capital), Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg



Click here for a variety of South Carolina maps: South Carolina Department of Commerce Maps