South Carolina, whose very name evokes languorous summer days, is the Mini Golf Capital of the World and the birthplace of sweet tea. Columbia is the state capital.
In 1670, a colony was established near present-day Charleston. It was named Carolina from the Latin word carolus in honor of England’s King Charles I. In 1710, the colony was divided into South Carolina and North Carolina. Settlers from Europe built profitable plantations in the area. South Carolina was the first state to vote to secede from the Union in 1860. On April 21, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, which was held by federal troops. Confederate Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard captured the fort after a 34-hour bombardment.
Myrtle Beach is home to the U.S. Pro Mini Golf Association Master's National Championship. The city has more than 50 mini golf courses, more than anywhere else in the world per square mile. A trip to the Palmetto State is incomplete without visiting a historic plantation. The Boone Hall Plantation (1681) in Charleston is one of the oldest working farms in the country. Drayton Hall (1738) in Summerville is the oldest unaltered plantation in the U.S. that’s open to the public.
Contrary to common belief, sweet tea was not invented at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It originated from Summerville as proven by an 1890 receipt showing the purchase of 600 pounds of sugar and 880 gallons of tea for a reunion of Confederate soldiers. Barbecue wasn’t invented in South Carolina, but the state has a long barbecue tradition dating back to the colonial days. It’s known for two types of sauces – the tangy and sweet yellow mustard-based sauce of the Midlands (counties surrounding Columbia) and the hot vinegar-and-pepper sauce of the Pee Dee region (upper northeast quarter of the state).
The Palmetto State has a subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild to cold winters. It’s prone to floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. On Sept. 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo battered South Carolina with 135 mile-per-hour winds and 20-foot wall of water that surged inland. Total damage was estimated at $9.5 billion.
In the hierarchy of states based on cost of living, South Carolina (population: 5.149 million) is in the middle. The state levies 0% to 7% in income tax. Its sales tax rate of 6% is average, but counties charge a sales tax.