What is the meaning of Lowcountry?
The south is an area rich in history, culture, cuisine, and more. However, the Lowcountry area of the south is in a class all its own. But, what makes this area so special? And, where exactly is the Lowcountry located? This article is the perfect primer to learn all about this special southern term.
What Exactly IS the Lowcountry?
Merriam-Webster defines the Lowcountry as, "a low-lying country or region especially : the part of a southern state extending from the seacoast inland to the fall line..." (merriam-webster.com) More specifically, the Lowcountry refers to a region of the South Carolina coast known for its historic cities, culture and tourism.
So, Is it Lowcountry or Low Country?
Both! There are some who prefer to use the term as a single word "Lowcountry" and some who voraciously defend the correct usage as being two words "Low Country". In reality, either one works so I guess you'll just have to choose which team you're on!
Where is the Lowcountry region in South Carolina?
There are a few schools of thought regarding the exact extent of the geographic region of the Lowcountry. Some include the counties of Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper while the larger accepted area includes Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. Seeing as how I'm located in the latter, I'm ok with the larger area.
Is Charleston, South Carolina part of the Lowcountry?
The use of the term "Lowcountry" in conjunction with Charleston, South Carolina is almost ubiquitous at this point. Referring to the architecture, culture, cuisine and more, Charleston is definitely an integral part of the Lowcountry and we proudly wear the term as a badge of honor.
What Makes South Carolina's Lowcountry so special?
While the Lowcountry was originally known for - and dependent on - its plantation-based crops like rice and indigo which could withstand the sub-tropical climate, the area has since developed other economic sectors with its major industry based around tourism. Tourists from far and wide visit the Lowcountry to experience its unique culture comprised of its people, historic architecture, unique southern cuisine and natural beauty.
In the Charleston, South Carolina area one its most well-known tourist draws is our amazing architecture. Lowcountry style homes are known for their distinct designs developed in the 1700's which continue to be used to this day due to their ideal layout for the climate.
The raised first floors to protect from tides and hurricane flooding, large covered porches for cool shady sitting areas, and large windows to allow in the cool breezes are all distinctive Lowcountry touches.
Sure, in our warmer, sub-tropical climate you could stay inside with the AC on full blast, but when you're in the Lowcountry, the last thing you want to do is miss out on all the outdoors have to offer! Boating, fishing, crabbing, golfing, shopping and of course the beaches are all can't miss activities in the Lowcountry.
Of course, if you stay inside, you'll miss the amazing live oaks, wispy Spanish moss, palmettos, marshlands, cordgrass and pluff mud that are indelible landmarks of being here.
Lowcountry cuisine shares some characteristics of southern cooking but the geography, history, people and resources make it uniquely its own. Strong African influences make the cuisine see comparisons to cajun cuisine. But don't get it twisted! We have our own style. Shrimp and Grits, She-Crab Soup, Crab Rice, Charleston Red Rice, Lowcountry Boil, Perlau and Hoppin' John are just a few. Oh, and don't forget Cooter soup, a truly adventurous and frugal dish featuring turtles!
The Gullah-Geechee People
People from all walks of life call the Charleston Lowcountry home these days but the areas culture would be less vibrant and rich without the Gullah community's influence. The Gullah people (or Geechee in Georgia) grew from the merging of South Carolina's Kongo, Angola, Senegambia and Sierra Leone African slave population during its rice and indigo plantation era. With relatively little European influence, these groups merged their languages, cultures and cuisines into the distinctive and influential Gullah heritage that still exists today.
Pay the Lowcountry a Visit
The Charleston-area Lowcountry is where I call home and I love every second of living, working and adventuring here. If you haven't paid us a visit, you're certainly missing out so plan a trip, see the sights and give me a call if you decide to make the Lowcountry a place to call home!
If you'd like to learn more about some of the neighborhoods here in the area, check out my articles on James Island, West Ashley, Mount Pleasant and Summerville. And get in touch with me HERE to follow me for more helpful articles on the area.