Greenville's population is about 70,000, making it the largest town east of Raleigh. The Greenville area is also home to Pitt Community College, and most Greenvillians are connected to ECU, PCC, or the regional medical center. Some locals affectionately refer to Greenville as a "black hole" because many people who leave tend to eventually return, and many who come from other places tend to stay. Because of political bias and a recent economic downturn after governmental restrictions on tobacco farming, eastern NC is sometimes ignored, but a large tourism industry is developing in the stead of our fading rural economy.
Greenville is within a day's drive of numerous eastern NC locales, including the Outer Banks (OBX) and Washington, less than 25 miles east, which has the NC Estuarium and places for fishing and boating around the Inner Banks (IBX). The Tar River has canoe trails which are suitable for kayaking, and the Rec Center offers canoes, kayaks, and other outdoor gear rentals. There are also dances here almost every weekend, such as contra, salsa, ballroom, and occasionally swing and disco. Late May through July, the Sunday in the Park series provides free concerts featuring local artists. Fall and spring are great times for students to leave town for a day and visit local festivals. Greenville partners with ECU to host PirateFest, an arts, athletics, and international festival in the spring, as well.