Sunday, August 18, 2013

The mystique of the South Carolina Lowcountry

[Image: 640px-Harbour_Town_July_2007.jpg]

The mystique of the South Carolina Lowcountry

By Sakura Honda
The Daily Magi
July 26, 2051

The Lowcountry (official spelling, sometimes spelled Low Country or just lowcountry) is a geographic and cultural region located along South Carolina's coast. The region includes the South Carolina Sea Islands. Once a location that was known for its agricultural wealth, the Lowcountry today is internationally renowned for its historic cities and communities, its natural beauty, and its unique cultural heritage, which have attracted millions of visitors and thousands of new residents.

The most commonly accepted counties of the Lowcountry are Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties. Supporters of this definition point to the Lowcountry Council of Governments (a regional governmental entity charged with regional and transportation planning) as covering these four counties. In addition, the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism identifies the "Lowcountry and Resort Islands" tourism area as the four aforementioned counties.

A larger geographic definition for Lowcountry often includes Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, sometimes referred to as the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area. Critics of this larger definition point that the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area, frequently used by those living in the City of Charleston, borrowed the Lowcountry moniker in an attempt to give a name to their region of the state; however, supporters point that many of the same geographic qualities and features found in the smaller area are also found throughout the three metropolitan counties as well.

Applied more broadly, the term can also refer to peripheral or adjacent areas. These include Allendale, Georgetown, and Williamsburg counties. Although along the coast, Horry County, home to Myrtle Beach and Conway is very rarely included in the definition and is more often considered to be its own region (The Grand Strand) or closer geographically to the Pee Dee Region of the state.

Tourism is the current dominant economic sector throughout much the Lowcountry and hinges upon three major contributing factors: resort amenities, cultural sites, and natural features.

The evolution of the modern resort community was pioneered at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island in the 1950s. Since that time, other parts of Hilton Head Island in addition to Fripp Island, Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island, and the Wild Dunes portion of the Isle of Palms have developed into popular destinations for golf, tennis, and beach vacations. Longstanding seaside communities including Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, and the Isle of Palms remain popular destinations for visitors and a growing number of permanent residents and second-home owners.

Charleston is one of the leading cultural and historic destinations in the United States and attracts millions of visitors each year. Beaufort is also a very popular destination for cultural activities and sightseeing, while some of the smaller communities in the region have certain cultural activities or amenities that attract thousands of visitors per year. Highway or traveler commercial services are of particular importance to communities in the lowcountry (including Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, South Carolina, Goose Creek, Charleston and Summerville) and along Interstate 95 (including St. George, Walterboro, and Hardeeville).

Hunting Island State Park, Edisto State Park and other local, state, and federally protected or preserved lands and wetlands provide thousands of acres of pristine natural areas that are accessible in areas to millions of visitors.

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