South Carolina Population 2016

Situated on the southeastern tip of the United States, South Carolina is one of the smallest states in the country but has a high population density by comparison. It's estimated that South Carolina's population reached 4,896,146 in 2016, up from 4.62 million at the 2010 Census. South Carolina currently enjoys a growth rate of 1.06%, which ranks 18th in the country.

The last set of confirmed population figures in the United States came with the nationwide Census carried out in 2010. At the time, it was confirmed that there were 4,625,364 people living in the state -- a rise of just over 15% on the figures declared in 2000. The Census Bureau estimates there are 4,896,146 residents of South Carolina in 2016, making it the 24th most populous state in the entire country.

Like many states on the eastern edge of the country, South Carolina is densely populated in comparison to its relatively small size. The state has an overall surface area of 32,020 square miles (82,931 square kilometers) which makes it just the 40th largest in the US.

For every square mile of South Carolina territory, however, there is an average of 153.9 people. That figure makes the state the 19th most densely populated in the country.

The two largest cities in South Carolina are Columbia (pop 133,803) and Charleston (pop 132,609), followed by North Charleston (pop 108,304). These are the only cities in the state with a population over 100,000.

Interestingly, South Carolina's metropolitan statistical areas are much larger than they appear based on the central city populations. Because of South Carolina law regarding unincorporated areas around city limits, most city proper populations seem smaller than the actual size of the area.

For example, Columbia, Greenville and Charleston each have urbanized area populations between 400,000 and 550,000, with the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) populations exceeding 60,000. The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area is by far the largest, accounting for 1.4 million of South Carolina's population.

South Carolina Demographics

According to 2015 US Census Bureau estimtaes, the racial makeup of South Carolina is:

  • 68.4% White (63.8% non-Hispanic)
  • 27.6% Black or African American
  • 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 1.6% Asian
  • 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander
  • 1.8% Multiracial
  • 5.5% Hispanic or Latino origin of any race

The largest ancestry groups in the state are: African American (29.5%), American (13.9%), English (8.4%), German (8.4%) and Irish (7.9%). For much of the state's history, African slaves and their descendants made up a majority of the state's total population, with whites becoming a majority in the beginning of the early 20th century, when thousands of blacks moved to the north. Today, most of the African American population lives in the Midlands and Lowcountry areas.

South Carolina Population History

In 1790, the population of South Carolina stood at an already healthy level of 249,073 and ten years later, at the start of the 19th century, those numbers had risen by just under 40% to 345,591. That was a significant rise, although it may not have been quite as substantial as other parts of the country were recording at the time.

The pattern of increases in the population of South Carolina continued to display healthy, if unspectacular, percentage growth and the numbers went beyond the one million mark for the first time in 1890.

In the 1900s, percentage growth slowed down to an extent but the overall picture was one of sustained increases through the end of the century. That has also continued to the present day where the South Carolina population is edging closer to the 5 million landmark in 2016.

South Carolina Population Projections

Natural growth and net migration in South Carolina is extremely healthy and there is nothing to suggest that this pattern will change in the years leading up to the next census.

Projections currently estimate South Carolina's population will just barely exceed 5 million by the 2020 Census, with a population over 65 that exceeds the national average.

South Carolina Population in 2016 Source: Akhenaton06

South Carolina Facts

  • The Cherokee, Catawba, and Yamasee were the largest Native American groups that lived on the land that now comprises the state of South Carolina.
  • The first English settlement was established in 1670 at Albemarle Point. Because of poor conditions in this area, early settlers relocated to Charleston.
  • South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861 and was the first state to do so.
  • South Carolina is now the Palmetto State, but it was once known as the Iodine State.
  • The Carolina colony was divided in 1729 into North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • Morgan Island in South Carolina has no human population. However, it is home to approximately 3,500 free-range monkeys, thus earning the location the nickname of Monkey Island.
  • In 1900, nearly 6 out of 10 South Carolinians were African American. Many left the state to find job opportunities up north, and today, just 3 out of 10 South Carolinians are African American.
  • Nearly one-quarter of South Carolina soldiers fighting in the Civil War were killed in battle.
  • An average of 28.5 million people visit the state annually.

Population Data via US Census

Year Population % Change Rank
2020 5,231,076 1.30% 23
2019 5,164,090 1.31% 23
2018 5,097,104 1.33% 23
2017 5,030,118 1.35% 23
2016 4,963,132 1.37% 23
2015 4,896,146 1.39% 23
2014 4,829,160 1.27% 24
2013 4,768,498 1.00% 24
2012 4,721,341 1.04% 24
2011 4,672,733 1.02% 24
2010 4,625,364 1.43% 24
2000 4,012,012 1.41% 26
1990 3,486,703 1.11% 25
1980 3,121,820 1.88% 24
1970 2,590,516 0.84% 26
1960 2,382,594 1.19% 26
1950 2,117,027 1.09% 27
1940 1,899,804 0.89% 26
1930 1,738,765 0.32% 26
1920 1,683,724 1.06% 26
1910 1,515,400 1.24% 26
1900 1,340,316 1.53% 24
1890 1,151,149 1.46% 23
1880 995,577 3.50% 21
1870 705,606 0.03% 22
1860 703,708 0.51% 18
1850 668,507 1.18% 14
1840 594,398 0.23% 11
1830 581,185 1.46% 9
1820 502,741 1.93% 8
1810 415,115 1.85% 6
1800 345,591 3.33% 6
1790 249,073 0.00% 7
South Carolina Population by Race
Race Population Percentage
White 3,164,143 68.41%
Black or African American 1,302,865 28.17%
American Indian and Alaska Native 24,665 0.53%
Asian 61,247 1.32%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 3,957 0.09%
Two or more races 68,487 1.48%
Languages Spoken in South Carolina
Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 4,381,360 100.00%
Spanish 195,870 4.50%
German 12,660 0.30%
French 11,035 0.30%
Chinese 7,895 0.20%
Portuguese 3,455 0.10%
Ukrainian 1,880 0.00%
Mandarin 1,480 0.00%
Telugu 940 0.00%
Dutch 870 0.00%
South Carolina County Populations
County Population Rank
Greenville County 491,863 1
Richland County 407,051 2
Charleston County 389,262 3
Horry County 309,199 4
Spartanburg County 297,302 5
Lexington County 281,833 6
York County 251,195 7
Berkeley County 202,786 8
Anderson County 194,692 9
Beaufort County 179,589 10
Aiken County 165,829 11
Dorchester County 152,478 12
Florence County 138,900 13
Pickens County 121,691 14
Sumter County 107,480 15
Orangeburg County 89,208 16
Lancaster County 85,842 17
Oconee County 75,713 18
Greenwood County 69,838 19
Darlington County 67,548 20
Laurens County 66,623 21
Kershaw County 63,603 22
Georgetown County 61,298 23
Cherokee County 56,194 24
Chesterfield County 46,017 25
Newberry County 38,012 26
Colleton County 37,731 27
Clarendon County 33,775 28
Williamsburg County 32,535 29
Chester County 32,267 30
Marion County 31,747 31
Dillon County 31,234 32
Jasper County 27,824 33
Union County 27,777 34
Marlboro County 27,494 35
Edgefield County 26,514 36
Abbeville County 24,932 37
Fairfield County 22,747 38
Barnwell County 21,725 39
Saluda County 20,053 40
Hampton County 20,049 41
Lee County 17,896 42
Bamberg County 14,880 43
Calhoun County 14,781 44
McCormick County 9,706 45
Allendale County 9,433 46