Myrtle Beach is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach is one of the major centers of tourism in the United States because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches, attracting an estimated 14 million visitors each year. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,109 with the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area population at 465,391 according to a 2013 estimate.
Technically a man-made island, Myrtle Beach has been separated from the continental United States since 1936 by the Intracoastal Waterway, forcing the city and area in general to develop within a small distance from the coast. In part due to this separation, the area directly west of Myrtle Beach across the waterway remained primarily rural, whereas its northern and southern ends were bordered by other developed tourist towns, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach. Since then, the inland portion of the Myrtle Beach area has developed dramatically and the beach itself is developing westward.
Due to strong erosion and tropical cyclones along the Atlantic Ocean, the city is separated from its beach by large dunes populated with sea grasses, which stabilize the sandy soil underneath and act as a natural seawall against storm surge. In conjunction, the city has also renourished the beach's sands several times, with one instance almost immediately followed by the landfalls of hurricanes Hugo and Hazel, necessitating a second replenishment to fill in the quick loss of the first.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.55 square miles.