South Carolina Fun Facts


South Carolina County Map


South Carolina, the Palmetto State, was one of the original 13 colonies that formed the United States of America.  Originally established as Carolina, just one settlement by the British, it was divided in 1729 into North and South Carolina to make governing easier.  

On average, 28.5 million people travel to South Carolina each year.  The low country, or the areas along the South Carolina coast, most likely account for most of the tourist travel, however, people come to South Carolina to visit its many historical significant locations all around the state. 

Shaped like a triangle, South Carolina's land area of 30,109 square miles makes it the 11th smallest state in the nation, and the smallest state in the Deep South.  It would fit inside of Alaska, the largest state, 21 times.  The article that follows is intended to give you some fun, interesting and useful facts about the Palmetto State.  

The Palmetto State

Commonly referred to as the Palmetto State, this nickname refers to South Carolina's official state tree, the Sabal Palmetto.  The tree has become iconic and appears on many items loved by visitors to the state, such as stickers, clothing items, coozies, holiday items, flags, glassware and more.  The significance of the palmetto tree goes much deeper than that, dating back to the Revolutionary War.  

On June 28, 1776, the British fleet, which had not lost a battle in a century, opened fire on a new fortress (later to be named Fort Moultrie) on Sullivan's Island.  Defended by the South Carolina militia, led by Colonel William Moultrie,  the palmetto logs and sand walls of the fort repulsed the attack of the British, as their cannonballs simply sank into the fort’s soft palmetto log walls.  This defeat saved the city of Charleston from British occupation for almost 4 years. 

This South Carolina State Flag flew at the state capital and was presented to Seth June (pictured holding the flag) for his continual contribution to the Realtor Party.

The Palmetto Tree and the South Carolina Flag  

The iconic brand of South Carolina, the navy flag with the palmetto tree in the center and a crescent in the upper left corner is significant for several reasons.  The original Carolina flag was designed in blue (which was the color of the South Carolina militia's uniforms) and featured a single crescent in the upper left corner bearing the word "Liberty".  This flag was also known as the Moultrie Flag, or the Liberty Flag.  The palmetto was added in 1861 after South Carolina's secession from the Union, prior to the Civil War, again paying homage to Moultrie's defense of Sullivan's Island and the fortress he constructed there. Fort Moultrie is now a popular tourist destination in Charleston.  

"The Shag" South Carolina's State Dance

Characterized by its smooth and sultry moves,  the South Carolina state dance can be experienced all up and down the Carolina coast.  Named the state dance in 1984, the shag has its roots in the rhythm and blues tunes heard on jukeboxes along the Grand Strand.  While it is often debated, it is widely believed that the birthplace of the shag was in Ocean Drive Beach along the Grand Strand in South Carolina in the 1950s.  While the dance has certainly evolved and grown in popularity over the years, it is still a beloved staple of life on the beach.  

Often referred to as the jitterbug on Quaaludes, or the South Carolina swing, the shag certainly has its roots in both of those dances.  

In the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s, the jitterbug  was the dance of choice for many.  But it was too fast for the R&B “beach music” played at the nightclubs and beach pavilions frequented by the teens of the era.  Lack of air conditioning also made it too hot for such fast dancing so the dance morphed into a slowed down version of the Lindy Hop, which perfectly matched the smooth, soulful shuffle beat of  the music of the times. It was from all of this that the Carolina shag was born.

Although there are some basic similarities between the shag and the jitterbug, the differences are considerable.  In the shag, the dancers’ upper torsos are stable and controlled while the footwork is more intricate and, depending on the dancer, complicated and fast.  Originally, the shag was considered to be a male dominated dance, with the female partner simply following, but that’s not so true anymore.  It’s common now to see both partners doing their own moves before coming together in a turn or spin.

The dance wasn’t always known by the same name. “Beach dancing,” “fas’ dancing” and “dirty shag” were all ways of referring to what we now call the Carolina shag. The shag is an important part of Myrtle Beach’s heritage, and its historical impact was deeply profound. 

At its root though, the dancing pattern is a simple “one-and-two, three-and-four, five-six” step. In terms of those not familiar with the Shag, the steps are simply stepping forward and backward while shifting your weight from right to left.  From these steps, called the “basic”,  dancers can move into more complicated moves such as the “pivot” and “boogie walk”.  A simple search will yield many examples of both beginning and advanced shag moves. 

In 1980 the shag had become so popular that it gave birth to a group called The Society of Stranders, or more commonly referred to as S.O.S.  Several times a year, shag groups from all over the East Coast migrate to the venues in North Myrtle Beach to meet and greet old friends, enjoy the ocean, enjoy the beach and dance the nights away.  Shag competitions are commonplace, with events even being held for junior dancers, some of the best you will see anywhere.  

Yellow Jessamine

South Carolina State Flower

South Carolina's state flower is the yellow jessamine.  It is a beautiful and resilient plant but all parts of it are poisonous. It's sometimes mistaken for honeysuckle, and those making the mistake have been poisoned by sucking its nectar.  The nectar is also toxic to honeybees.  The yellow jasmine became the state flower in 1924.  

Carolinas Darlin' Dixie - South Carolina State Dog - Boykin Spaniel

South Carolina State Dog 

The Boykin Spaniel became the South Carolina state dog in 1985.  It is a medium sized spaniel, bred in South Carolina to hunt wild turkey and waterfowl in the Wateree River swamps.  

History recounts that the first Boykin Spaniel was actually a stray which befriended a banker on his walk to the First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, SC at the turn of the 20th century.  The banker, Alexander White, liked the little dog and adopted him.  After the dog showed some aptitude for retrieving, he sent him to his friend and hunting buddy, Lemuel Whitaker Boykin near Camden, SC.  “Whit” Boykin experimented and cross bred the dog and the resulting breed is named for him.  Whit found the little dog, called “Dumpy” to be an excellent water fowl retriever and turkey dog.  Dumpy became the foundation stock of the current breed,  which is small enough to ride in the light watercraft needed to hunt in the swamps of South Carolina. 

Boykins are characterized by a gentle temperament around other dogs and children.  They make excellent pets and are easy to train. They are eager to work and please. On average, they weigh in at about 30-40 pounds.  Often described as energetic and having great endurance they do need regular exercise to burn off excess energy.  

Other Fun Facts Regarding South Carolina.  

  • South Carolina houses the only colony of free ranging Rhesus monkeys in the United States.  There are about 3,500 monkeys on Morgan Island, off the coast of Beaufort,  which is also known as Monkey Island.
  • South Carolina state is the only state in the United States that grows tea. 
  • Native Americans -- approximately 30 native American tribes lived in South Carolina at the time of the arrival of the first Europeans.  The largest tribes were the Catawba, Cherokee, and Yamasee.  
  • South Carolina is home to the world's hottest chili pepper, called the Carolina Reaper grown by Ed Curie of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.
  • South Carolina is home to the world's largest collection of outdoor sculptures located at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  Also of note, is the fact that the state has one of the oldest landscape gardens in the United States located at Middleton Place near Charleston.  
  • South Carolina's Atlantic coastline is about 187 miles long, but if you include all bays, inlets, and islands, the state has more than 2,876 miles of coastline.  
  • Sweet grass basketry is one of the oldest crafts of African origin in America. The grasses used in the baskets are from wetlands and marsh areas in South Carolina’s Low Country. During the days of plantations, large workbaskets were used for collecting and storing rice, grain, cotton, fish and shellfish
  • Famous South Carolinians include:  Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States;  jazz great Dizzy Gillespie;  heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier; Godfather of Soul, James Brown; Chubby Checker; singer/songwriter Darius Rucker, actress Eartha Kitt,  basketball great, Alex English; tennis great, Althea Gibson-the first African American woman to win Wimbledon and U.S. National Championships; Jesse Jackson;  Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox” known for is heroics against the British in the revolutionary war;  Vanna White of “Wheel of Fortune” fame and  Pat Conroy, best selling author. 
  • South Carolina is one of the top three peach-producing states in the nation and, not surprisingly, the state fruit is the peach. However, before it was known as the Peach State, it was the Iodine State.
  • South Carolina was named after King Charles I and Charles II. The name “Carolina” is from the Latin “Carolinus” meaning “of Charles”.
  • South Carolina is home to the Sandhills, which are ancient dunes from what used to be South Carolina’s coast 20 million years ago when the ocean level was higher or the land was lower
  • The Gullah are descendants of enslaved African slaves who live in the Low Country region of South Carolina. Living in relative isolation, they have preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage. The term “Gullah” may derive from Angola, where ancestors of some of the Gullah people likely originated
  • By the middle of the 18th century, 9 out of the 10 wealthiest people in the American colonies lived in South Carolina. All 9 lived in the Charleston area and had grown rich operating rice, cotton, or indigo plantations

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