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Charleston, South Carolina

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Census Data for Charleston ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2019 and it gave Charleston a population of 137,973 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, which gave Charleston a population of 120,083 people.

The city of Charleston is located in Charleston County. The 2010 Census gave Charleston County; a population of 350,209 people. This means that Charleston had 34.29% of the county's total population, making it Charleston's most populous community.

At the same time, South Carolina had a population of 4,625,364 people, meaning that Charleston had 2.6% of the total population of South Carolina - making it the state's 2nd most populous community.

Area ...

The 2010 Census shows that the sampling area for Charleston has a total area of 127.5 square miles [330.2 km²]. Of this total, 109 square miles [282.3 km²] is land, with the balance (14.52%) being water (18.51 square miles [47.9 km²]).

Charleston County has a land area of 916 square miles [2,372.7 km²]. At 109 square miles [282.3 km²], Charleston has 11.9% of the county's total land area.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Charleston, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this defines the sampling area (usually a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.
    • Things like population, area and housing for Charleston reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Charleston might be different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau to resolve any difference between the two.
    • Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually the center of the polygon, known as the centroid). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:
    • Lat:   32° 49' 4"   (or 32.82°)
    • Lon:   -79° 57' 32"   (or -79.96°)
    • More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Charleston had 59,522 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 120,083 people, this averages 2.02 people per Housing Unit.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • The 2010 Census shows Charleston had a land area of 109 square miles [282.3 km²]. This translates to 466.9 Housing Units per square mile [180.3 housing units/km²].
    • From the Census of 2000: Charleston had 44,563 Housing Units, a population of 96,650 people and a land area of 97 square miles [251.2 km²]. This gives a density of 2.17 people per Housing Unit and 390.6 Housing Units per square mile [150.8 housing units/km²].
    • Note: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2010 Census and the 2000 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Charleston and you need to be careful when comparing between the censuses. More information about these differences can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Charleston County ...

Charleston is primarily located in Charleston County<4> and is the County Seat for Charleston County. A portion of Charleston extends into Berkeley County.

The county had a population of 350,209 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 120,083 people, Charleston represented 34.29% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Charleston has a population density of 941 people per square mile [363.7 people/km²], Charleston County averages 382.3 people per square mile [147.6 people/km²].

For more information, please visit our Census Page for Charleston County.

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Charleston, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Charleston. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • Although we don't have specific information about the shape of the polygon for Charleston or how it changed has over time, there is some information that can give us some hints. For example, since the shape of the sampling area is directly related to the shape of the polygon, any change to area probably indicates a new shape for the polygon.
    • If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Charleston, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Charleston.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:
    • Lat:   32.817922°   (or 32°49'4" N)
    • Lon:   -79.958927°   (or -79°57'32" W)
    • For the 2000 Census, the location given was:
    • Lat:   32.789295°   (or 32°47'21" N)
    • Lon:   -79.986255°   (or -79°59'10" W)
    • The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 2 miles to the northeast<5> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.
    • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#2404030) to Charleston. This identifier also marks a GPS point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Charleston. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:
    • Lat:   32.814559°   (or 32°48'52" N)
    • Lon:   -79.958394°   (or -79°57'30" W)
    • The GPS location given for the 2010 Census lies 1,236 feet to the north<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Charleston. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Charleston.

Miscellaneous Information for Charleston ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has used one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either Charleston County or the city of Charleston:

  • The GNIS Codes ...
    • The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Charleston:
    • GNIS ID for Charleston: 2404030
    • GNIS ID for Charleston County: 1252740
    • GNIS ID for State of South Carolina: 1779799
  • Misc. Census Codes ...
    • Charleston is located in Census Region #3 (the South Region) and Division #5 (the South Atlantic Division).
  • The US Postal Service ZIP Code ...
    • While some people have used ZIP codes to identify a community, the ZIP codes were actually created to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although a ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Charleston, they do identify addresses that are in (or near) the city. It's important to remember that the boundaries of the ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned, eliminated or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.
    • Our list of ZIP codes for Charleston:<7>
    • 29401, 29402, 29403, 29404, 29405, 29406, 29409, 29410, 29412, 29413, 29414, 29415, 29416, 29417, 29418, 29419, 29422, 29423, 29424 & 29425.
  • Census ZCTA Codes ...
    • The US Census Bureau created statistical entities that they call ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and these ZCTAs are frequently confused with the ZIP codes that come from the US Postal Service (USPS).
    • ZCTAs were first created for the 2000 Census and at that time, they were based upon the USPS ZIP codes. While largely covering the same areas, the boundaries of a ZCTA do not necessarily match the boundaries of a postal ZIP code with the same number. For example, while a postal ZIP code can cross a county or state line, a Census ZCTA can not. They should be treated as separate entities with no correlation between them.

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Charleston.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Visit our Community Index for South Carolina

About Charleston County

About South Carolina

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website for Charleston:

The official website for Charleston County:

The official website for State of South Carolina:

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2019.
<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.
<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).
<4>If you're interested in how the shape of South Carolina's counties, including Charleston, have changed over time, we recommend the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.
<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 321 degrees and a distance of 2 miles.
<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 7 degrees and a distance of 1,236 feet.
<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Charleston or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).






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This page was last modified: 18 Apr 2022