|Three geographic land areas define South Carolina; the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the
Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge region. South Carolinians simplify this somewhat
by referring to the eastern Atlantic Coastal Plain as the South Carolina Low Country and
the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge region as Up Country.
Two thirds of South Carolina is covered by the Atlantic Coastal Plain, from
the Atlantic Ocean extending to the west. The land rises gradually from
the southeast to the northwest.
An area of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, defined as extending from the coast
about 70 miles inland, is referred to as the Outer Coastal Plain. This area
is quite flat. Many rivers can be found in the Outer Coastal Plain with swamps
near the coast that extend inland along the rivers. An area called the Inner
Coastal Plain consists of rolling hills. This is where South Carolina's most
fertile soils are found.
In the central Atlantic Coastal Plain is an area of forested land called the
Pine Barrens. On the western edge of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, running from
the southwest to the northeast, is a line of sand hills. These sand hills may
have once marked the eastern coast of South Carolina suggesting that the
entire Atlantic Coastal Plain may have once been under water.
To the northwest of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is the Piedmont. The
Piedmont is marked by higher elevations, from 400 to 1,200 feet above sea level
and reaching 1,400 above sea level on its western edge. The landscape consists
of rolling hills; gentler in the east and more hilly to the west and northwest.
The border between the Piedmont region and the Atlantic Coastal Plain is called
the Fall Line to mark the line where the upland rivers "fall" to the lower Atlantic
The Blue Ridge covers the northwestern corner of South Carolina. Part
of the larger Blue Ridge that extends from southern Pennsylvania south to Georgia,
the South Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains are lower and less rugged than the mountains
in North Carolina. The forest covered Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina rarely
exceed 3,000 feet above sea level. The highest point in South Carolina,
Sassafras Mountain, reaches 3,554 feet into the sky.
( South Carolina Close-up )