Charleston, South Carolina Population 2019
Charleston is the second-largest and oldest city in South Carolina. Located in Charleston County on Charleston Harbor, Charleston has a population of 120,000, although an official 2017 estimate places the population at 134,875. Charleston is the 200th largest city in the United States.
Population Density and Metro Area
Charleston has a population density of 1,152 people per square mile (445/square kilometer) in the city property. The larger urban area has a population estimated at 550,000. Charleston is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which comprises Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. The Charleston MSA has a population estimated at 713,000, which makes it the 76th largest MSA in the country.
Charleston Crime Statistics
Charleston was once one of the most dangerous cities in America based on the number of crimes committed per 100,000 people. The crime rate has been declining, however. In 1999, there were 597 crimes per 100,000 people, although the rate dropped to 236/100,000 people by 2011. This compares with the national average of 320/100,000 people.
When Charles II of England retook the throne in 1660, he granted a charter to the Province of Carolina and sent the eight Lord Proprietors in 1663. It took several years for them to arrange for expeditions, although the first -- Charles Town -- was founded in 1670. Charles Town (which was later changed to Charleston) was settled by people from Bermuda under governor William Sayle. The settlement quickly became a major port town.
In 1718, the town was attacked by infamous pirate Edward Teach, better known as 'Blackbeard'. As the capital of the colony, Charles Town was the southernmost English settlement in America until the Georgia colony was established decades later. It was subjected to many attacks from France, Spain, and pirates for the 40 years.
Most early settlers were from England, the Barbados colony, and Bermuda. Among the first settlers were free people of color who were born in the West Indies to Englanders and Africans. Even in the beginning, Charleston attracted people from many religious and ethnic groups. It was once home to the richest and largest Jewish community in all of North America until 1830.
Charles Town was the most extensive and wealthiest city south of Philadelphia by the mid-1700s, becoming the 4th largest port in the colonies behind Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Charleston was a significant point in the Revolutionary War. While it lost its status as the state capital in 1786, it became very prosperous with an economy dominated by cotton plantations until the mid-19th century. By 1860, almost 18% of the city's black population were free people of color or nearly 8% of the total population.
Charleston's 300-year history is evident in most neighborhoods, especially the city center, which has a large and well-preserved residential historic area that's popular with tourists. The city's downtown is free of skyscrapers. Instead, Charleston boasts historic plantation homes alongside new retail development.
Charleston Population Growth
Charleston is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The greater Charleston area has one of the highest growth rates in America as more people move from surrounding counties to enjoy the city's rapidly improving economy. According to new census estimates, the Charleston MSA (or the Tri-County Area) was the 12th fastest-growing metro area in the U.S.
By 2020, Charleston County was previously projected to have a population of 371,000, but these new estimates show the county has likely already hit this mark.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Charleston was:
- White: 74.43%
- Black or African American: 21.94%
- Two or more races: 1.62%
- Asian: 1.58%
- Other race: 0.30%
- Native American: 0.12%
- Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.01%