81 Interesting Facts About South Carolina

Last updated on August 10th, 2022

South Carolina is the 23rd most populous and the 40th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. The state attained statehood on May 23, 1788, becoming the 8th State to join the union. Its two bordering states are Georgia and North Carolina. See the complete list of the 50 states and their borders here. South Carolina (nicknamed: Palmetto State) has 46 counties. The state’s capital is Columbia. The abbreviation for South Carolina is SC. With these facts about South Carolina, let us learn about its history, geography, economy, people, culture, and more.

1. The state was named after the King Charles I and King Charles II of England.

2. The nickname of the state “Palmetto State” originates from the fact that during the Revolutionary War, colonists at Fort Moultrie, a small fort built from palmetto trees, defeated a British fleet near Charleston in 1776.

3. Former United States president, Andrew Jackson, was born in “the backwoods” of South Carolina, just outside North Carolina, in 1757.

Peachoid - a giant water tank in Gaffney, South Carolina.
Peachoid – a giant water tank in Gaffney, South Carolina. Image credit – anokarina

4. Peachoid is a giant water tank in Gaffney built to honor the state’s fine peach crops. The water tower can hold one million U.S. gallons of water. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks for travellers along I-85 between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

5. South Carolina is known for its beautiful beaches and availability of ample fishing opportunities. This attracts millions of tourists to the state.

6. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Carolina is second to California in overall peach production. Aside from peaches, it is also a major producer of apples.

7. South Carolina is the leading producer of peaches east of the Mississippi River.

8. Before South Carolina was known as the Peach State, it was the Iodine State. The Iodine State was emblazoned on their license plates earlier before the adoption of the Peach State as the states’ nickname.

9. Johnston calls itself the “Peach Capital of the world.”

10. South Carolina fought 137 battles during the Revolutionary War. The last of these battles happened on November 14, 1782 on Johns Island.

11. South Carolina is usually divided into two broad regions. The Up Country and the Low Country.

A wood stork in flight collecting nesting material.
A wood stork in flight collecting nesting material. Interesting facts about South Carolina. Image credit – Andy Morffew

12. The wood stork is the only true stork that regularly occurs in the U.S.A. In flooded, shallow wetlands, it can fish by holding its beak open and snaps up the fish that swim by. It is about 33-44 inches in height and has a wingspan of 59-65 inches. The life span of the wood stork is about 11 years and 8 months in the wild.

13. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has some 50 golf courses and as a result, it is called the “miniature golf capital of the world.” According to some estimate, the beach draws some 15 million tourists every year. In 2007, the Guinness World Record for the tallest sand castle was awarded to Myrtle Beach. Today, the tallest sandcastle is 17.65 m (57 ft 11 in) tall, and was made by Skulptura Projects GmbH (Germany), in Binz, Germany, on 5 June 2019.

14. The South Carolina Golf Club was founded in 1786 in Charleston, signaling the birth of American golf. The founders were Scottish businessmen who played their first round of golf at a public park called Harleston Green. The South Carolina Golf Club is now known as the Country Club of Charleston. 

Constructed in 1870 as the US courthouse and post office.
Columbia City Hall, constructed in 1870 as the US courthouse and post office. Interesting facts about South Carolina. Image credit – Jimmy Emerson, DVM

15. The Columbia City Hall in Columbia is the second oldest government building in the capital city. It was built in 1870. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

16. There is an island called “Monkey Island” on the state. The island is said to be home to more than 3,000 monkeys. Some say that the monkeys on the island are being used for research purposes.

17. South Carolina’s state reptile, the loggerhead turtle can live for fifty years in the wild and it can weigh up to 400 pounds.

Poinsett Bridge near Highland, SC
Poinsett Bridge near Highland, SC. Interesting facts about South Carolina. Image credit – Peter Ciro

18. Poinsett Bridge is the oldest bridge in South Carolina. The bridge was built in 1820 and it is no longer in use. However, the structure stands intact to this day.

19. Out of all the bridges in the state of South Carolina, only one covered bridge remains: Campbell’s Covered Bridge, built in 1909. The bridge is located in Gowensville, off Hwy 14.

20. Althea Gibson became the first African American to play and win Wimbledon. She won the women’s singles and doubles at Wimbledon in 1957, and won the U.S. Open in 1958.

21. Sturgis motorcycle rally is the world’s largest motorcycle rally. It started in 1938 and was suspended only during the World War II due to gas shortages. Motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the globe come together at the event. In 2018, an estimated 500,000 people participated in the rally.

Refreshing Southern Sweet Iced Tea
Refreshing Southern Sweet Iced Tea. Photo © Bhofack2

22. The first tea farm in the U.S. was created in 1890 near Summerville.

23. The Charleston Tea Garden is the only commercial tea plantation in the US and is located on Wadmalaw Island, 20 miles south of Charleston. It is owned by the Bigelow Tea Company and sits on 127 acres which holds 320 varieties of tea. The plantation’s tea bushes come from cuttings descended from the original tea plants that were brought to the state by botanist Andre Michaux.

24. South Carolina is the state in which sweet tea originated. Since sweet tea originated in Summerville, South Carolina, this city is very proud. As a result, the city of Summerville offers the “Sweet Tea Trail,” which is a tour of the early plantations that existed downtown. After the trail tour has ended, visitors get to meet Mason, the largest sweet tea in the world. Mason happily gives away over 2500 cups of ice-cold sweet tea to visitors on a regular basis.

25. Many people refer to sweet tea as a “southern thing,” but since it originated in South Carolina, it’s really a “South Carolina thing.” Tea grown on farms in Summerville, South Carolina were used to brew the first cups of delicious, sweet tea.

Angel Oak, Charleston, SC
Angel Oak, Charleston, SC. Interesting facts about South Carolina. Image credit – Matt Jeffirs

26. A tree in SC called the Angel Oak expected to be between 400 and 500 years old. The 65-foot-tree has survived hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. According to some sources, the age of the tree is believed to be more than 1,500 years. This old tree is gargantuan and stands about 66 ½ feet tall and is 28 feet wide in circumference. It’s huge branches and plentiful leaves provide enough shade to cover a 17,200 square feet area.

27. On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops fired shots at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. This is considered the first shot that began the Civil War.

28. Two of the most important battles in the history of the United States were fought in South Carolina – the Battle of King’s Mountains and the Civil War.   

29. South Carolina is one of the original thirteen colonies.

South Carolina on the map

30. The geographical shape of the state resembles an inverted vertical triangle. From east to west, the state stretch some 460 km while between north and south it measures 360 km.

31. South Carolina is home to the world’s biggest ginkgo farm. It was established by Garnay Inc in Sumter in 1982. The farm is home to more than 12 million trees.

32. Fort Jackson, the largest United States Army installation for Basic Combat Training is in Columbia, South Carolina.

33. Charles Town, the site of the first European settlement was renamed to Charleston in 1783.

Palmetto Morning Silhouettes
Palmetto Morning Silhouettes. Interesting facts about South Carolina. Image credit – Matthew Beziat

34. Textile manufacturing and tourism are the two main industries of the state.

35. Anderson nicknamed “The Electric City” is the place where the first successful long-distance transmission of electricity in the south occurred.

36. South Carolina has one of the lowest percentage of women serving in state legislature. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state has only 15.9% of women in the legislature. At 13.8%, Mississippi has the lowest percentage of all the states.

Man cooking meat on barbecue grill at summer party
© Syda Productions

37. South Carolina is believed to be the birthplace of barbecue. Spanish explorers that settled in an abandoned French settlement near Charleston mingled with the native Americans living there. These native tribes were known to cook whole animals over stick frames. The Spanish settlers were believed to have brought and raised pigs in this settlement for food. With the native knowledge of roasting entire animals over flames and the Spanish introducing the pig as an animal that can be eaten for its meat, many historians believe that this is how both groups came to cook the first barbecue.

38. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860, citing frequent violations of the Constitution by the Federal Government and increasing hostilities directed at slave-holding states.

39. Ridgeway Police Station used to be the world’s smallest police station prior to its conversion into a tourist information booth. The station was small enough to hold one wooden desk, a filing cabinet, a phone, and a wood stove that kept policemen warm. It served the community from the 1940s until 1990.

40. Fortune-tellers in South Carolina are required to get fortune-telling permits or licenses before they can set up shop. A fortune-telling license costs a hundred dollars. Violators can be fined and sent to prison for no longer than 30 days.

41. A UFO Welcome Center is ready to accept alien visitors in Bowman, South Carolina. This is a personal project of resident Jody Pendarvis who started building this center in 1994. The Welcome Center consists of a big saucer-shaped structure fitted with a bed, satellite TV, AC, a toilet, and shower. The center is intended to make extraterrestrial visitors feel welcome, and there is even an air conditioner inside the center in case aliens were to visit during the summer months.

Pile of handcrafted sweet grass baskets for sale
Pile of handcrafted sweet grass baskets for sale. Photo © Rosemarie Mosteller

42. Sweetgrass basket weaving is a traditional weaving technique brought to the Carolinas by West African slaves. Sweetgrass baskets are among the most popular cultural souvenir items guests can bring home when they visit the state.

43. The Lizard Man is a popular urban legend that was born from an incident when a 17-year-old Christopher Davis reported encountering a creature that look like a tall lizard when he was changing a tire by the side of the road. The Lizard Man is believed to frequent Scape Ore Swamp. There are also separate accounts of attacks by a lizard-looking creature, including accounts by two Lee County deputies, that have added fuel to this urban legend.

44. Edgar Allan Poe served at Fort Moultrie from 1827-1828. He was 18 years old then and is believed to have served in the army under a false name. Prior to his stint in South Carolina, Poe served in Boston at Fort Independence.

45. In 1969, it rained non-dairy creamer when the local creamer manufacturer encountered a mechanical problem with its exhaust vents. The vents became clogged which resulted in puffs of non-dairy creamer being expelled into the air. When it rained, the creamer mixed with rain which resulted in weird, creamy rain.

46. The Godfather of Soul was born in Barnwell, SC. He returned to the state in his later years, living in Beech Island, S.C.

Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, S.C.
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, S.C. Photo © Jim Lawrence

47. Brookgreen Gardens is home to the country’s first public sculpture garden and the largest collection of outdoor figurative sculptures in the world.

48. People are surprised to learn that although sweet tea is the state’s hospitality drink, it is not the official state drink. The state drink of South Carolina is actually milk.

49. Bradford Watermelon is an oblong-shaped watermelon known for its sweetness and is only grown in two plots, one on a farm outside of Sumter, South Carolina, and the other outside of Seneca, South Carolina. Both plots are run by the Bradford family.

50. South Carolina still has a strong Gullah influence, most notably in food and basket-weaving. The Gullah people are descendants of African slaves brought from West Africa to work and harvest in the many plantations that dotted the state.

51. Boone Hall Plantation, established in 1681 by Major John Boone, is a historic landmark in Mount Pleasant, S.C. that is home to a main colonial house and various brick slave cabins at the back. This is one of the oldest plantations that are still operational in the US today.

Forest with synchronous fireflies
Forest with synchronous fireflies. © Karen Foley

52. Synchronous fireflies or fireflies that light up at the same time are found in only a very few places around the world, mostly in Southeast Asia. A colony of these fireflies lives in Congaree National Park and the natural light show can be seen from May to June.

53. According to local lore, drinking water from Catfish Creek will cause you to become infatuated with the place so you don’t want to leave.

54. South Carolina’s Lake Murray is believed to be the home of the cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. It is known to locals as Messie, a portmanteau of “Murray’ and “Nessie.” Also known as the serpent of Lake Murray, Messie is believed to be 40-60 feet long and resembles a giant snake with an eel’s tail.

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