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American Express -- Services in South Carolina are provided through Abbott & Hill Travel, 10 Carriage Lane, Charleston (tel. 843/566-9051; www.abbottandhilltravel.com).

Area Codes -- It's 803 for Columbia and environs; 843 for Charleston and the South Carolina coast; and 864 for Greenville, Anderson, Spartanburg, and the Upstate area.

Emergencies -- Dial tel. 911 for police, ambulance, paramedics, and the fire department. You can also dial tel. 0 (zero, not the letter O) and ask the operator to connect you to emergency services.

Fishing -- A fishing hot line (tel. 800/ASK-FISH [275-3474]) gives you an up-to-date fishing report on South Carolina's major lakes, as well as information on fishing regulations. For more information, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202 (tel. 803/734-3886; www.dnr.state.sc.us).

Liquor Laws -- The minimum drinking age is 21. Some restaurants are licensed to serve only beer and wine, but many offer those plus liquor in minibottles, which can be added to cocktail mixers. Beer and wine are sold in grocery stores Monday to Saturday. All package liquor is offered through local government-controlled stores, commonly called "ABC" (Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission) stores, which are closed on Sunday.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The major papers are the State (Columbia), the Greenville News, and the Charleston Post and Courier.

Taxes -- South Carolina has a 6% sales tax. Cities often tack an accommodations tax (an occupancy tax) on to your hotel bill. Counties also have the option of adding an extra .5% to 3% use tax.

Time Zone -- South Carolina is in the Eastern Standard Time zone and goes on daylight saving time in summer.

Weather -- Phone tel. 803/822-8135 for an update.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.