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Regional identities in SC

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I just wanted to start a thread about SC regional identities. All good sandlappers know that the state is usually divided up into 4 regions: Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee/Grand Strand, and the Upstate. Having coming across people from all of these regions in the state, I think that the strongest regional identities from strongest to weakest would be:

1) Upstate

2) Pee Dee/Grand Strand

3) Lowcountry

4) Midlands

We know the story on the Upstate. I usually find that the Florence/Darlington/Hartsville crowd pretty much identifies as a region. For most Lowcountry people, they pretty much identify which Charleston, but I don't think the regional identity is as strong. And the Midlands ranks last (to me) because, while the Midlands is made up of a few counties (Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, Saluda, Sumter, Calhoun, Newberry, Orangeburg, Aiken [?]), it usually just means the greater Columbia area.


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I think Greenwood is taking the step to not being in the upstate or the midlands. Abbeville, Greenwood, McCormick and Saluda counties are known as "the lakelands," possibly because of the many popular lakes it has or is close to.

"The upstate" seems to have restricted itself to counties along the I-85 corridor: Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg.

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I think it depends on where you are from. I didn't know the Pee Dee was actually a region until I was in college, so I would rank it as this:

  1. Upstate

  2. Lowcountry

  3. Midlands

  4. Pee Dee

Newberry is definately in the Midlands.

There are generally 10 counties that are considered to be in the Upstate:

  1. Oconee

  2. Pickens

  3. Greenville

  4. Spartanburg

  5. Cherokee

  6. Union

  7. Laurens

  8. Anderson

  9. Greenwood

  10. Abbeville

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I feel that the Sandhills is the dividing line between the Midlands to the west, the Pee Dee to the east. Same goes southwest of Columbia, the midlands again to the west but this time, the low country to the east. Most, if not all of the Sandhills lies along the Midlands to begin with but does feel like a boundary line. Then theres also the fall line as well that follows up and down the sandhills.

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SC may have more than four distinct regions. I formulated a list of some regions in which South Carolina's counties fall in:


Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Hampton


Calhoun, Fairfield, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter


Chester, Lancaster, York

Grand Strand

Georgetown, Horry


Abbeville, Greenwood, McCormick, Saluda

Pee Dee

Chesterfield, Clarendon, Dillon, Florence, Lee, Marlboro, Williamsburg


Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Edgefield


Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union

Link: http://www.sciway.net/maps/cnty/

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Categorizing SC's regions also somewhat depends on the context. We officially have 10 tourism districts which are more specific to the history and geography of areas of the state.

Another possible categorization would be the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) region, which includes GA and SC counties (Richmond, Aiken, etc.).

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Well, I can say that the Midlands counties are pretty accurate except for Aiken and Orangeburg. I think more of the people in Aiken County identify with the Augusta metro area than Cola. In Orangeburg, there are an exceptional amount of people that identify themselves as being part of the Lowcountry, believe it or not. Commuting numbers may dispute that theory, but I have many relatives and friends who live there and consider themselves and their community close to Chas and the Lowcountry.

As for the Lowcountry itself, the tri-county metro area of Chas is clear on its location and identity with Chas. However, there are 2 counties that are continuing to identify with metro Chas and not just the Lowcountry: Clarendon and Colleton counties. There are people consistently moving to these counties and commuting to Chas for work.

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Charleston_native, you do have a point about Orangeburg County. Because the county itself is so geographically large, certain parts can "swing" different ways, so to speak. As for the city of Orangeburg itself, it is definitely more tied to Columbia than to Charleston. However, my hometown (on my mother's side of the family) of Branchville is located in the southern tip of the county, with direct access to Bamberg, Dorchester, and Colleton counties, the last two being Lowcountry counties. I know at least one of my teachers in high school commuted from Charleston to work everyday. My mom does most of her "big city" shopping in Charleston, although we have gone to Columbia as well. Also, the eastern part of Orangeburg County has I-95 access, connecting it to the Lowcountry. I knew of a pastor who pastored a church in the town of Holly Hill in that part of the county who lived in Charleston. The western part of the county can access I-20 somewhat easily, so some ties with Aiken are present there. So Orangeburg County can be considered a "border county" in many ways. But it is typically lumped with the Midlands counties. I actually remember having something of an argument with a fraternity brother of mine about whether Orangeburg County was a Lowcountry or Midlands county! LOL

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