For demographic purposes, Charleston  is part of the Charleston/North Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties. In the 2000 census, it comprised about 550,000 people. The city of Charleston proper has a population of about 100,000.
The Hilton Head/Beaufort MSA includes Beaufort and Jasper  counties and comprised about 142,000 people in the 2000 census. The town of Hilton Head had about 40,000 residents in 2000, and Beaufort had about 13,000.
The Savannah MSA, which includes Chatham, Bryan, and Effingham counties, numbered about 300,000 people in the 2000 census. The city of Savannah  itself has a population of about 130,000.
The Brunswick MSA includes Brantley, Glynn, and McIntosh counties. Because it was first defined in 2003, there is no U.S. Census info yet, but in 2005 it had about 100,000 people.
Its legacy as the center of the U.S. slave trade and plantation culture means that the Charleston/Savannah region has a large African American population. The Charleston MSA had a 31 percent African American population in 2000, and the Savannah MSA had a 35 percent African American population in that census. In the cities proper, the black population is higher, about 35 percent in Charleston ’s case and nearly 60 percent in Savannah ’s.
The Hispanic population, as elsewhere in the United States, is growing rapidly, but statistics can be misleading. Though Hispanics are growing at a triple-digit clip in the region, they still remain under 3 percent of each state’s population. Bilingual signage is becoming more common but is still quite rare.