noun - The Lowcountry (sometimes spelled Low Country or 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. It is site of the Low Country Splash, the largest open water swimming competition in the state of South Carolina.
The Lowcountry is often thought of as a geographic and social identifier. While there is a general consensus on defining Lowcountry as it relates to culture, there is a considerable difference of opinion on its geographic extent. According to some historians, the Lowcountry extends from the Sandhills of South Carolina, just east of Columbia, to the coast. This area is mostly near or at sea level; thus the term "low country". Contemporary definitions however differentiate depending on perspective:
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.