James Island, incorporated in 1993, is a large triangular sea island that is framed by Wappoo Creek and Charleston Harbor on the north, Morris Island and Folly Beach on the east, and the Stono River and Johns Island on the west. The town is small and rural and was re-incorporated in 2002.
The Civil War began on James Island on the morning of April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces at Fort Johnson fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter. Both forts were located on the island's northern shore.
James Island remained predominantly rural until the 1960s. It has since become a residential suburb.
James Island is best known for its Holiday Festival of Lights. The festival runs from mid-November through the beginning of January. The festival is a huge tourist attraction in James Island.