One of the earliest settlements in the state, Greenland was a parish of Portsmouth (then called Strawbery Banke) operating in 1638. Captain Francis Champernowne moved from Strawbery Banke in 1640 and settled in the area of the present Portsmouth Country Club. Although it was originally to be called Canary, he would call his farm "Greenland". His extensive landholdings included a farm which is now the town of Madbury, named for his ancestral home in Devon, England.
Residents requested and were granted a separate parish in 1706. In c. 1710, Captain Samuel Weeks constructed a substantial brick house, thought to be the oldest brick house in New Hampshire still standing. It survived the earthquake of 1755. Only the 18" thick beams that supported the structure were cracked during the quake. Greenland would incorporate in 1721.
Greenland annexed parts of Stratham in 1805 and 1847.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.3 square miles (34 km2), of which 10.5 sq mi (27 km2) is land and 2.8 sq mi (7.3 km2) is water, comprising 21.07% of the town. The highest point in Greenland is Breakfast Hill, at 151 feet (46 m) above sea level), on the town's border with Rye. Greenland abuts Great Bay to the north and is primarily drained by the Winnicut River. Greenland lies fully within the Piscataqua River (Coastal) watershed.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,208 people, 1,204 households, and 892 families residing in the town. The population density was 305.9 people per square mile (118.1/km²). There were 1,244 housing units at an average density of 118.6 per square mile (45.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.79% White, 0.28% African American, 0.03% Native American, 1.22% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.72% of the population.
There were 1,204 households out of which 36.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.5% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.9% were non-families. 19.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $62,172, and the median income for a family was $67,188. Males had a median income of $44,592 versus $31,815 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,270. About 3.6% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.1% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.
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