Known as the Gamecock City, Sumter lies near the geographic center of the state of South Carolina Sumter is 100 miles west of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand and the state capital, lies approximately 45 miles to the west.
As of 2007, there were 59,180 people, 34,717 households, and 4,049 families living in the city. The population density was 4,469.5 people per square mile (775.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 45.3% Caucasian, 49.1% African American, 1.24% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.98% of the population.
Sumter is home to Shaw Air Force Base, headquarters of the Third Army, 9th Air Force, the 20th Fighter Wing and many other tenant units. Since World War II it has been a major source of federal and civilian employment in the area. Swan Lake/Iris Gardens located in Sumter, is the only public park in the United States with all eight known species of swan. The beautiful black waters of Swan Lake form the setting for the spectacular Iris Gardens. Sumter is also the home of Morris College a historically black, coeducational, liberal arts college, operated by the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina. The educator Mary McLeod Bethune, 19th-century prima donna Clara Louise Kellogg, Confederate General Richard Heron Anderson, and Bill Pinkney of the original Drifters notable Sumter natives.
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