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The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.Charleston had an estimated population of 134,385 in 2016.The present city has a total area of 127.5 square miles (330.2 km) is covered by water.North Charleston blocks any expansion up the peninsula, and Mount Pleasant occupies the land directly east of the Cooper River.The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 761,155 residents in 2016, the third-largest in the state and the 78th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England.Population growth in the interior of South Carolina influenced the removal of the state government to Columbia in 1788, but the port city remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census.
Despite its size, it remained unincorporated throughout the colonial period; its government was handled directly by a colonial legislature and a governor sent by London.
but difficulty in transport and communications with the north meant its settlers were effectively independent of Charles Town as late as the governorship of Philip Ludwell; even then, the north was controlled through an appointed deputy governor.
On December 7, 1710, the Lords Proprietors decided to separate the Province of North Carolina from Charles Town's government, although they continued to own and control both regions.
The traditional parish system persisted until the Reconstruction Era, when counties were imposed. It took seven years before the group arranged for settlement expeditions.
Nevertheless, traditional parishes still exist in various capacities, mainly as public service districts. In 1670, Governor William Sayle brought over several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda, which lies due east of Charleston although closer to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
The highest temperature recorded within city limits was 104 °F (40 °C) on June 2, 1985, and June 24, 1944, and the lowest was 7 °F (−14 °C) on February 14, 1899.