Historically, Kandhamal District has existence since 3rd century BC. Till 1855, it was the included in Boudh. At that time the place of Kandhamal was considered as an popular unconquered Atavika country. There are some evidences in the history of the district which proves that Kandhamal district was a part of the Maurya region. Then in the later years the mountainous Atavika country came to be known as Kandhamal. From the historical records it has been cleared that the district is named after the vigorous Khonds, who use to dwell in this region. The present district of Kandhamal is made up of the fragments of the three erstwhile principalities of Boudh, Ghumsar and Khemundi, which were formed during the reign of the Gangas, the last indigenous rulers in the throne of Odisha. During different periods of time the place was ruled by different rulers of some prominent dynasties likewise Ganga dynasty, Gupta dynasty, Bhanja dynasty, the Somavansis, the Chindak Nagas/Telugu Chodas, the Kalchuris and the British. British ruled over the region a long period i.e. started from 1830 to 1880.
Geographically, the district has a total 8,021 sq. kms. area and occupies the rank 6th in State and 101st in India on the bases of this size. It lies at 20°13'N latitude, 84°02'E longitude and 700 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 67.37% forest area of total geographical area. The district is bounded by Boudh district in the North, Rayagada district and Gajapati district in the South, Nayagarh district in the East, Ganjam district in the South East and Kalahandi district in the West. The climate of the district is extremely hot in the summers and fairly cold in the winters.The actual rainfall in the district was 1376.0 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 17 sub-districts, 4 towns and 2,587 villages. Oriya is its official language. It came into existence on 1st April, 1993 with its administrative headquarters located at Phulbani which is situated at a distance of 206 kms. from the State Capital.
Demographically, according to the 2011 census, the district has a total number of 1,72,004 households with a total of 7,33,110 comprising 3,59,945 are males and 3,73,165 are females which leads it to rank 23rd in the state and 479th in India. The density of population of the district is 91 (persons per sq. kms.). The sex ratio is pegged at 1037 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 962 (females per 1000 males). As per 2011 census the percentage of major religion practiced by the people of this regions are Hindu and Christian with 79.16% and 20.31% of the total population. The population growth rate during the period of 2001-2011 was 13.10% including 11.51% were males and 14.68% were females. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district are Oriya and Kui with 53.15% and 45.65%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 14,057 out of which 7,172 were males and 6,885 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 5,424 out of which 3,004 were males and 2,420 were females.
Economically, the district is dependent on agriculture primarily. In the year 2011-12 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 3,76,052 lakhs at current price and Rs. 2,41,539 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2011-12 was Rs. 3,47,485 lakh at current price and Rs. 2,20,836 lakh at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2011-12 was Rs. 47,185 at current price and Rs. 29,987 at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. Rice, maize, pulses, mango, citrus, banana, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. are the chief agricultural products in the district. Elephants, handicrafts and terracotta works of the district are world famous.
Education wise, according to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 64.13% out of which 76.93% are males and 51.94% are females. The total literate population of the district is 3,99,786 including 2,33,900 are males and 1,65,886 are females. Adivasi College, Rushimal Mahavidyalaya, Amcs College, Kalinga Mahavidyalaya, S.M Government Women's College, Gurukula Sanskrit College, Kondhamal Vidyalaya, J.J Mahavidyalaya, Panchayat College are some of the most reputed educational institutions in the district.
Radhakant Nayak, a veteran India politician from the Indian National Congress party is a Member of the Rajya Sabha. Radhakant Nayak is associated with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). Sugrib Singh is a member of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) political party. He is the part of the 14th Lok Sabha of India.
The district has several famous historical and religious places to visit. These places are Putudi Water Fall, Balaskumpa, Chakapad, Daringbadi, Belghar. In the year of 2019, there were total 4,69,093 domestic tourists and 594 foreign tourists who visited the above places. Daring Badi is a beautiful hill station. It is located in dense forest. It is called the Kashmir of Odisha. Putudi waterfall is a prominent waterfall, situated nearby Phulbani. It falls into Bada Saluki River. Belghar has panoramic view of lush and rolling hills. It is also famous for trekking and cane works. Chakapad is a devotional centre, dedicated to Shivism. It is situated on the bank of river Burtunga. The Lord Shiva as Birupakshya, Anandeswara and Jageswara are worshipped in three temples here. The festivals are celebrated on Sivaratri, Sitalsasthi and Rasha Purnima. Balaskumpa is a beautiful devotional place, dedicated to the Goddess Barala Devi. Dashara is the main occasion to visit here.