South Carolina ranks 40th in size among the states, with an area of 82,931 sq km (32,020 sq mi), including 2,611 sq km (1,008 sq mi) of inland water and 186 sq km (72 sq mi) of coastal waters over which it has jurisdiction. The maximum distance, from east to west, is 439 km (273 mi) and its maximum extent north to south is 352 km (219 mi). The state’s mean elevation is 110 m (350 ft).
South Carolina includes portions of three major natural regions, or physiographic provinces, of the eastern United States: the Atlantic portion of the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont (see Piedmont Plateau), and the Blue Ridge provinces.
The Coastal Plain in South Carolina is usually divided into the Inner and Outer plains. The Inner Coastal Plain, inland from the coast, is a region of rolling topography. The Outer Coastal Plain, along the coast, is flat and broken by many rivers and streams. The Outer Coastal Plain is often referred to as the low country, and the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge provinces are known together as the upcountry. The Fall Line separates the Coastal Plain from the Piedmont. On or near this line, rapids occur in all the major rivers as they pass from the harder metamorphic rock of the upland region to the more easily eroded clays and shales of the Coastal Plain. The Atlantic Coastal Plain occupies about two-thirds of the state.
Included within the region are the Sea Islands, a chain of small and often marshy islands that lie along the coast. Near the coast, the land is flat and often swampy, and the soils are generally sandy and infertile. Except for an important truck-crop growing region south of Charleston, little farming is practiced, and forests of longleaf pines cover large areas. Farther inland, the land has better natural drainage and rises gently to 150 m (500 ft) in the rolling Red Hills and Sandhills (or Sand Hills). The soils of the Inner Plain before rising into the Sandhills are more fertile than along the coast, and much cotton and soybeans are grown. The Piedmont is an upland area that rises gradually northwestward from 120 m (400 ft) above sea level near the Fall Line to 370 m (1,200 ft) along the northwestern edge.
The Lower Piedmont formerly was an important cotton-growing area, but most crop production has ceased and the region is now typified by forests and pasture. The Upper Piedmont contains a belt of many manufacturing establishments. The Blue Ridge province, in northwestern South Carolina, occupies less than 2 percent of the state’s total area. It is a mountainous and mainly forested region. Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in the state, rises 1,085 m (3,560 ft) above sea level in this region. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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