The main village of the town, where 8,636 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Hanover census-designated place (CDP), and is located at the junctions of New Hampshire routes 10, 10A, and 120. The town also contains the villages of Etna and Hanover Center.
Hanover was chartered by Governor Benning Wentworth on July 4, 1761, and in 1765–1766 its first European inhabitants arrived, the majority from Connecticut. Although the surface is uneven, the town developed into an agricultural community. Dartmouth College was established in 1769 beside the Common at a village called "the Plain"—an extensive and level tract of land a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the Connecticut River, and about Script error above it.
At one point in its history, the southwest corner of Hanover was known as "Dresden", which in the 1780s joined other disgruntled New Hampshire towns along the Connecticut River that briefly defected to what was then the independent Vermont Republic. For a time, Dresden was capital of the republic. After various political posturings, however, the towns returned to New Hampshire at the heated insistence of George Washington. One remnant of this era is that the name "Dresden" is still used in the Dresden School District, an interstate school district serving both Hanover and Norwich, Vermont—the first and one of the few interstate school districts in the nation.
While it is likely that the name "Dresden" derived from Dresden in Germany, it has also been suggested that it could derive directly from the old Sorbian word drezg ("forest") or Drezd'ane, for an inhabitant of a forest.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of Script error, of which Script error is land and Script error is water, comprising 2.52% of the town. The primary settlement in Hanover, where over 75% of the town's population resides, is defined as the Hanover census-designated place (CDP) and contains the areas around Dartmouth College and the intersections of New Hampshire Routes 10, 10A, and 120. The CDP has a total area of Script error, of which Script error is land and Script error is water.
Hanover experiences a warm summer continental climate (KöppenDfb), with long, cold, snowy winters, and warm, humid summers. Temperatures average Script error in January to Script error in July, and the annual mean is Script error. Extremes range from Script error, recorded on February 16, 1943, to 103 °F (39 °C), recorded on August 2, 1975.
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,260 people, 3,119 households, and 1,797 families residing in the town. The population density was 220 people per square mile (86/km2). There were 3,278 housing units at an average density of 65.2 per square mile (25.2/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 81.0% White, 3.4% Black, 0.8% Native American, 10.8% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.
There were 3,119 households out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 4.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the town, the population was spread out with 27.8% at or under the age of 19, 25.5% from 20 to 24, 14.4% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years.
For the period 2010-14, the estimated median income for a household in the town was $94,063, and the median income for a family was $129,000. Male full-time workers had a median income of $87,550 versus $53,141 for females. The per capita income for the town was $34,140. About 2.0% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
Like most other college towns, Hanover is a liberal bastion and a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections. No Republican presidential nominee has managed to receive over 32 percent of the vote in the town in the past two decades. Hanover backed Hillary Rodham Clinton with 85 percent of the vote in 2016, providing the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York with her largest margin of victory in the state of New Hampshire, which she narrowly won by 2,736 votes statewide. Her margin of victory in Hanover was by over twice that amount, allowing attribution that her margin in Hanover was what ultimately allowed her to carry the Granite State. However, Hanover did not back Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary (supporting Barack Obama with 58.15 percent of the vote to Clinton's 26.11 percent) nor did it support her in the 2016 Democratic primary when voters opted for U.S. SenatorBernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont with 53.04 percent of the vote.
The Hanover Water Company supplies water for downtown Hanover from several local reservoirs. The company is owned by Dartmouth College (52.8%) and the Town of Hanover (47.2%), with management by the Town of Hanover under a contract. In 2000, all full-time company employees became town employees. In recent years, the town has spent over $20 million to upgrade main water lines, and will undergo another $6 million project to build a new water treatment plant. Outside the downtown area, residents rely on private wells that are not maintained by the town.
CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007. "This just might be the best college town," read the headline of a story in the January–February 2017 issue of Yankee.