Following exploration of the coast in
1521 by Francisco de Gordillo, the Spanish tried
unsuccessfully to establish a colony near
present-day Georgetown in 1526, and the French also
failed to colonize Parris Island near Fort Royal in
1562. The first English settlement was made in 1670
at Albemarle Point on the Ashley River, but poor
conditions drove the settlers to the site of
Charleston (originally called Charles Town).
South Carolina, officially separated from North
Carolina in 1729, was the scene of extensive
military action during the Revolution and again
during the Civil War. The Civil War began in 1861 as
South Carolina troops fired on federal Fort Sumter
in Charleston Harbor, and the state was the first to
secede from the Union.
Once primarily agricultural, South Carolina today
has many large textile and other mills that produce
several times the output of its farms in cash value.
Charleston makes asbestos, wood, pulp, steel
products, chemicals, machinery, and apparel.
Farms have become fewer but larger in recent years.
South Carolina ranks third in peach production; it
ranks fourth in overall tobacco production. Other
top agricultural commodities include nursery and
greenhouse products, watermelons, peanuts, broilers
and turkeys, and cattle and calves. The only
commercial tea plantation in America is 20 mi south
of Charleston on Wadmalaw Island.
Points of interest include Fort Sumter National
Monument, Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, and aircraft
carrier USS Yorktown in Charleston Harbor; the
Middleton, Magnolia, and Cypress Gardens in
Charleston; Cowpens National Battlefield; the Hilton
Head resorts; and the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical
Garden in Columbia.