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Charleston Harbor runs about 7 miles (11 km) southeast to the Atlantic with an average width of about 2 miles (3.2 km), surrounded on all sides except its entrance.
Sullivan's Island lies to the north of the entrance and Morris Island to itself south.
The city limits also have expanded across the Cooper River, encompassing Daniel Island and the Cainhoy area.
The present city has a total area of 127.5 square miles (330.2 km North Charleston blocks any expansion up the peninsula, and Mount Pleasant occupies the land directly east of the Cooper River.
Charleston was founded as Charles Town—honoring King Charles II of England—in 1670.
Its initial location at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River (now Charles Towne Landing) was abandoned in 1680 for its present site, which became the 5th-largest city in North America within 10 years.
The entrance itself is about 1 mile (2 km) wide; it was originally only 18 feet (5 m) deep, but began to be enlarged in the 1870s.
It adopted its present spelling with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War.
Hurricanes are a major threat to the area during the summer and early fall, with several severe hurricanes hitting the area—most notably Hurricane Hugo on September 21, 1989 (a category 4 storm).
The dewpoint in June to August ranges from 67.8 to 71.4 °F (19.9 to 21.9 °C). Census, the metropolitan statistical area had a total population of 712,239 people.
Summer is the wettest season; almost half of the annual rainfall occurs from June to September in the form of thundershowers. Winter is short and mild, and is characterized by occasional rain.
Measurable snow (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) only occurs several times per decade at the most, with the last such event occurring December 26, 2010.
Endemic bouts of yellow fever and malaria influenced the removal of the state government to Columbia in 1788, although the port remained among the 10 largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census.