The Keonjhar District emerged as one of the District on 1st January, 1948. The District is bounded by Mayurbhanj District and Bhadrak District to the east, Jajpur District to the south, Dhenkanal District and Sundargarh District to the west and West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand State to the north. Covering a geographical area of 8303 sq kms, the Keonjhar District lies between 21º 1’ N to 22º 10’ N latitude and 85º 11’ E to 86º 22’ E longitude.
As per 2011 census, the total population of Keonjhar District is 1,801,733. The District comprises total 9,06,487 male population and total 8,95,246 female population. Total SC population of the District is 2,09,357 whereas the ST population is 8,18,878.
As per the administrative set up is concerned, the Keonjhar District has got three sub divisions namely Anandpur, Champua and Keonjhar. There are 13 tahsils, 13 blocks, 297 GPs, 2132 villages,4 Municipalities and 1 NAC functioning in the District.
The climate of Keonjhar District is characterized by an oppressively hot summer with high humidity. Summer generally commences in the month of March. Temperature begins to rise rapidly attaining the maximum in the month of May. During the summer, maximum temperature touches around 380 C. The weather becomes more pleasant with the advent of the monsoon in June and remains as such up to the end of October. The temperature in the month of December is lowest i.e. it hovers at around 110 C. Sometimes it even drops down to as low as 70C. The average annual rainfall is around 1534.5 mms.
Keonjhar is one of the major mineral producing Districts of Odisha. Iron ore, Manganese ore, Chromate, Quartzite, Bauxite, Gold, Pyrophillite and Lime Stone are the major minerals found in this District. The Kalinga Iron Works (Barbil), Ferro Manganese Plant (Joda), Ipitata (Beleipada), Charge Crome (Brahmanipal) are the major names in the industrial scene of Keonjhar. There are also engineering and metal based industries (53 numbers), chemical and allied industries including plastic industries (48 numbers) and agro and marine based industries (242 numbers) functioning in this District.
The major crops grown in the Keonjhar District are Paddy, Maize, Til, Niger, Arhar etc. Keonjhar District celebrates many festivals round the year. Sarhul, Sohrai, Karmapuja, Bodam, Chaitra Parab, Makar Sankaranti, Nuakhai, Raja Parab, Burani Jatra, Ratha Jatra, Shivaratri are the famous festivals celebrated in the District. The other local festivals celebrated in the District are Ram Navami, Dusshera, Dola Yatra, Rasha Purnima, Bada Osha and Chandan Jatra etc.
The whole District of Keonjhar was a princely state before its merger with Odisha. From the history it reveals that a part of the old Khijjinga territory with headquarters at Khijjinga Kota, identified with modern Khiching. It became a separate state with Jyoti Bhanja as its ruling chief sometime during the first half of the 12th century A.D.
The then State of Keonjhar comprised only the northern half of the modern District for a long time prior to the installation of Jyoti Bhanja as King. During the latter part of the 15th century the southern half of the District was occupied by King Govinda Bhanja under whose rule Keonjhar was extended from Singbhum in the north to Sukinda in the South and from Mayurbhanj in the East to the borders of the States of Bonai, Pallahara and Anugul in the West.
During the rule of Pratap Balabhadra Bhanja (1764–1792 A.D.) two small areas of Tillo and Jujhpada were purchased from the Zamindar of Kantajhari and were added to the District. These were recognised as parts of Keonjhar in the Sanad granted by the East India Company to Raja Janardan Bhanj in 1804. Since then there had been no territiorial changes of the District till its merger with the Province of Odisha. But after merger largely for the reasons of administrative expediency the areas of Tillo (7.51 sq.km) and Jujhpada (9.06sq.km.) were transferred to the Districts of Balasore and Cuttack respectively, while a number of villages called Ambo group (14.84 sq.km.) of Balasore District were added to Keonjhar District.