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Why South Carolina is divided into four sections with really unique names

The Palmetto State and its numerous cities go by many names — some easier to pronounce than others.

The most common way to split the state is into four regions: Pee Dee, the Upcountry (or Upstate), the Lowcountry and the Midlands.

Each region has unique land and history that make it stand out among the other regions and from much of America.

But why do we call northeastern South Carolina the “Pee Dee”?

Where exactly is “The Lowcountry”? Is it just Beaufort County or does it include Charleston, too?

From the history of the Pee Dee tribe to the Upcountry/Upstate’s Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s plenty to learn about South Carolina’s regions:


This beautiful, mountainous region is at the top of the Palmetto State.

When you visit, you’ll see the Blue Ridge Mountains stretching toward Georgia and West Virginia.

Favorite view in my favorite city. #yeahthatgreenville #yeahthatbridge

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The region includes art and shopping hub Greenville and is the headquarters of Denny’s, Spartanburg.

The region is also called Piedmont, which is French for “foot of the mountain,” said Carl Borick, director of the Charleston Museum. But it’s more likely Scottish and Irish settlers actually made the mountain region home, he said.

The region also calls itself the “Center of Char-lanta” making it the perfect connector between those two Southern metropolises.

The area holds the Kings Mountain National Military and State Park.

The park marks where the Revolutionary War battle of Kings Mountain marked one of the first major victories for the patriots at the time.


The Midlands — so called because it’s in the smack dab middle of the state — is home to Columbia, the state capital and … not much else.

However, some may have heard the mid-state called by another name: the Sand Hills. The Sand Hills originally marked the upper region of the coastal plain that goes westward toward Georgia and Virginia.

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The name comes from the fact that ocean levels used to rise all the way up to Columbia, Borick said.

The name and change in sea levels also explain why there is sandy soil in the region, he said.

Pee Dee

The Pee Dee region makes up northeastern South Carolina and includes major cities such as Myrtle Beach and Florence.

Within the Pee Dee region is one of the top vacation destinations for families and spring breakers: Myrtle Beach a.k.a. The Grand Strand.

However, what you might not know is the name Pee Dee didn’t come from European or Caribbean influences, but from the Native American tribe that once dominated the land.

The Pee Dee — also spelled PeDee — Tribe have lived near the Pee Dee River for generations and are still one of the few Native American tribes that are recognized by the state.

The tribe’s official site shows that they promote education and advocacy for the Pee Dee Tribe’s history.

The Grand Strand

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It’s rumored that Myrtle Beach’s nickname — The Grand Strand —was coined by a column in the city’s main newspaper The Myrtle Beach Sun News.

However, this is impossible because The Sun didn’t start reporting in the city until 1950. But an older paper simply called The Myrtle Beach News could be where this phrase was born.

The word Strand actually comes from the German word meaning “Beach,” meaning making the town’s beloved nickname literally mean “The Grand Beach.”

The name is definitely well-deserved due to the high number of visitors the beach spot gets every year.

Reports suggest at least 18.6 million visitors came to the area in 2016, and there others that at least 11 to 14 million visitors dip their toes in the sand/water, go to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and explore Dirty Myrtle’s crazy nightlife.


Last, but certainly not least, we have the region of the Palmetto State that’s rich with history and culture as evidenced by cities and towns such as Charleston.

When you look at the levels of elevation in South Carolina, the southeastern region is the lowest point of the state, Borick said.

The lines of where the Lowcountry begins and ends are murky, but if you’re referring to just the South Carolina coastal plains, then it runs from Beaufort County all the way up to Charleston. You’ll find beautiful beaches, rice-based cuisine and heavy African and French-influenced architecture and history.

Part of why Charleston’s architecture has an European feel is because many of the French — also known as Huguenots — escaped to the city to be freed from religious persecution, Borick said.

Rice is a popular dish in the Lowcountry thanks to the high amount ofthe stuff that’s planted and grown here.

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Dating back to the Colonial period, African slaves were brought by English settlers from Barbados and also by the large slave trade to Charleston Harbor.

African slaves were valued based on their previous knowledge and history of growing rice fields in Africa, Borick said.