Columbia is a city located in Lexington County and Richland County South Carolina. Columbia has a 2023 population of 137,996. It is also the county seat of Richland County.Columbia is currently growing at a rate of 0.17% annually and its population has increased by 0.5% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 137,314 in 2020.
The average household income in Columbia is $79,637 with a poverty rate of 24.29%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Columbia is 28.2 years, 27.7 years for males, and 28.7 years for females.
There are many religions observed throughout Columbia, with residents that are Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, and Jewish, to name a few.
Census data show that for the most part, Columbia’s population has only grown throughout the years. In 1880, the population had exceeded 10,000. This number more than doubled by 1900. In 1930, the city passed the 50,000 mark, and in 1970, Columbia had over 100,000 residents. However, the 1980s and 1990s saw drops in population, falling below 100,000. However, at the time of the 2000 census, the population had bounced back again. Current estimates show that the population has risen almost 4% since the last census taken in 2010, indicating that this city will see continued growth.
The Congaree people were the first known inhabitants of what is now Columbia. In 1540, Hernando de Soto was the first European to come to Columbia. However, the city was not settled until many years later, when the South Carolina General Assembly created the city in 1786. The area was selected as the state’s capital, although some legislators originally wanted to call the city Washington. Columbia was one of the first planned cities in the nation.
The State Legislature first met in Columbia at the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, Columbia was incorporated as a village before achieving city status in 1854.
When first designed, Columbia was divided into 400 blocks across a 2-mile square. Each block was further divided into half-acre plots and sold. There were rules put in place for the houses that were to be built on these plots of land. During the beginning of the 19th century, the city began to grow, with its population closing in on 1,000 residents.
It was also during the beginning of the 19th century that the University of South Carolina was founded, to provide Upcountry and Lowcountry South Carolinians with educational opportunities without having to leave the country.
It was around 1816 when the population grew to over 1,000, and there were about 250 homes in the town. As the 19th century progressed, Columbia received its city charter, a police force, and a railroad, which contributed to further population growth. Around the mid-1850s, the city’s economy revolved around the cotton industry and because of that, thousands of slaves lived in Columbia.
During the Civil War, much of the city was destroyed by fire. In 1865, the city began to rebuild and experienced a construction boom. The city continued to grow.
During the 20th century, Columbia was taking on a role as a hub for textile manufacturing. Six mills employed thousands of workers in the area. In the early 20th century, paved roads were constructed for the first time on Main Street, and there was another construction boom that included the development of a bank, hotels, and a shopping center. This trend only continued through the 1930s when the city had over 800 retail establishments. It was also during the early 1900s when Camp Jackson was established, which later became Fort Jackson.
During the second half of the 20th century, the city took on historic preservation projects to restore and renovate historic buildings which still stand today. Revitalization continued through the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in the downtown area. New additions include shopping centers, a children’s museum, an arena, art galleries, shops, restaurants and more, as well as a very diverse economy based on government, healthcare, and finance. Columbia is also home to major companies including Michelin, SCANA, Honeywell and Westinghouse Electric.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Columbia was:
Black or African American
Two or more races
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among black people with a rate of 61.46%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 48.57%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
91.66% of Columbia residents speak only English, while 8.34% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 3.86% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Columbia is Native, with 61.78% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Columbia is White, with 14.89% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 5.4%. Among those working part-time, it was 35.3%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 36.46%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 55-64.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Columbia
94.99% of Columbia residents were born in the United States, with 51.73% having been born in South Carolina. 2.86% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Asia.