The corridor encompasses a cultural and linguistic area along the southeastern coast of the United States from the northern border of Pender County, North Carolina to the southern border of St. Johns County, Florida and 30 miles inland. The land mass of this area, which is included in the Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain and the 79 barrier islands that hug the coast, encompass approximately 12,818 square miles, an area larger than the states of Maryland and Delaware combined.

This area is home to one of the country’s most unique cultures, a tradition first shaped by captive Africans brought to the southeastern United States from the primarily rice-producing regions of West and Central Africa. That culture continues today by their descendents, known as Gullah Geechee people.  

Brought to the New World and forced to work on the coastal plantations of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, Gullah Geechee people developed a separate creole language and distinct culture patterns that included more of their African cultural traditions than the African-American populations in other parts of the United States. Gullah Geechee people retained many aspects of their creole culture due to the geographic barriers that isolated these sea island communities. Although Gullah Geechee people traveled between nearby islands and the mainland, few outsiders entered the Gullah Geechee communities, particularly after the Civil War. After their emancipation from slavery, the Gullah Geechee people’s isolation became more of a choice, as people returned to their homes, communities, and their way of life. In these rural communities, Gullah Geechee people continued their language, arts, crafts, religious beliefs, folklore, rituals and food preferences, and a strong sense of place and family. The Gullah Geechee peoples’ traditional economic practice of farming, fishing, hunting, and small-scale marketing of subsistence products also continue today, yet many areas that once supported these activities have been replaced by coastal development.

© 2016 Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor