Historically, Sambalpur is witness of the ancient civilization. Earlier Sambalpur state was a princely state of British India. On the other hand, in the year 1849 when its ruler died without a direct male heir, the British captured the state as per the doctrine of lapse. It was attached to the British Bengal Presidency, but was transferred to the Central Provinces in 1862. Then in 1905 the district was transferred back to Bengal, but the subdivisions of Phuljhar and Chandarpur-padampur remained there with the Central Provinces. In 1912, it came under the province of Bihar and Orissa. In 1936, it emerged as a separate province of Odisha. After independence, Odisha became a state of India. At the very beginning, Sambalpur district comprised four districts likewise present day’s Sambalpur district, Bargarh district, Jharsuguda district and Deogarh district which was subsequently divided into four separate districts. Whereas Bargarh was separated in 1993 and districts of Jharsuguda and Deogarh were separated in 1994. Currently, it comes under Red Corridor.
Isaac Santra is known as an physician, Gandhian and social worker. He contributed for the eradication of Leprosy from India. He was honoured with the prestigious Padam Shri Award in 1956. Jadunath Supakar was a famous Indian artist and textile designer. He played an important role for the popularization of handloom industry of Varanasi. He revived the Padam Shri in the year 1985 and also the Odisha Lalit Kala Academy Award.
Geographically, the district has a total 6,624 sq kms. area and occupies the rank 9th in State and 149th in India on the bases of this size. It lies at 21°47' N latitude, 83°98' E longitude and 135 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 50.42% forest area of total geographical area. It is bounded by Deogarh District to the East, Bargarh and Jharsuguda districts to the West, Sundergarh District to the North, and Subarnapur and Angul districts in the South. The climate of the district is extremely hot in the summers and fairly cold in the winters. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1251.2 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 20 sub-districts, 6 towns and 1,313 villages. Oriya is its official language. It came into existence on the 1st April, 1993 with its administrative headquarters located at Sambalpur which is situated at a distance of 300 kms. from the State Capital.
Demographically, according to the 2011 census, the district has a total number of 2,48,829 households with a total population of 10,41,099 comprising 5,26,877 are males, and 5,14,222 are females which leads it to rank 20th in the state and 436th in India. The density of population of the district is 157 persons per sq kms. The sex ratio is pegged at 976 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 940 (females per 1000 males). As per 2011 census the percentage of major religions practiced by the people of this region is Hindu 92.61%. The population growth rate during the period of 2001-2011 was 11.27% including 10.89% were males and 11.67% were females. According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Oriya with 78.80%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 22,496 out of which 11,638 were males and 10,858 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 14,760 out of which 8,990 were males and 5,770 were females.
Economically, the district depends on agriculture mainly. Forest related products also provide a good source of income. Tendu leaf is famous as green gold of Odisha. It has several power, alumina and steel industries. The district is also famous for Diamonds and Sambalpuri textile. In the year 2011-12 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 7,09,643 lakhs at current price and Rs. 4,46,243 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2011-12 was Rs. 5,84,504 lakh at current price and Rs. 3,53,543 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. 55,656 at current price and Rs. 33,664 at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The region is considered as one of the most backward districts and currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).
Education wise, according to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 76.22% including 84.35% are males and 67.93% are females. The total literate population of the district is 7,03,691 out of which 3,93,192 are males and 3,10,499 are females. Gangadhar Meher College (Autonomous), Sambalpur University, Sambalpur University Institute of Information Technology, Silicon Institute of Technology, Veer Surendra Sai Medical College, Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology, Women's College, Orissa Medical College of Homoeopathy & Research, Sri Aurobindo School (SAIIE&R), Gayatri Residential English Medium School, Kuchinda College, St. Joseph's Convent Higher Secondary School and Central School (KV) are some of the most reputed educational institutions in the district.
Ghanashyam Panigrahi was an Indian politician from Indian National Congress. He played an important role to spread the message of Gandhi ji during the Non-Cooperation Movement. He also inspired a lot of people to join the Indian National Congress, political party. He was the founder of National School at Sambalpur in 1921. Sriballav Panigrahi belonged to the Indian National Congress party in Odisha and All India Congress Committee (AICC). He represented the Deogarh Lok Sabha constituency in the Parliament, three times, in 1984, 1991 and 1996. Nagendra Kumar Pradhan is an Indian politician from Biju Janta Dal. He was elected as a member of the 16th Lok Sabha from the Sambalpur constituency in Odisha. He was also served as a member of Legislative Assembly of Odisha.
The district has many famous historical and religious tourist places. These places are Gudguda Waterfall, Maa Ghanteswari Temple, Huma, The Leaning Temple of Lord Shiva, Cattle Island, A Natural Wonder, Hirakud Dam, Sambalpur Town, Samaleswari Temple. In the year of 2019, there were a total 16,02,529 domestic tourists and 1,651 foreign tourists who visited these places.