Chamoli district is a district of Uttarakhand state with its administrative headquarters located at Gopeshwar town. The territory encompassed by the present Chamoli district was the part of the Pauri Garhwal district of the Kumaon until 1960. The Chamoli district is popularly known as the district of “Garhwal’’ and the land of forts. There are many interesting mythological stories are associated with the Garhwal of the place, Chamoli. But the authentic history of the Garhwal is available from the 6th AD onward. The script of king Kankpal in the Narvaman rock script in siroli and the chand pur Gari rock confirms the history and culture of Garhwal. According to some historians and scientists it is origin place of Arya race. About 300 BC ago, Garhwal was invaded by Khasa through the Kashmir, Nepal and Kuman. At that time its natives built a small fort called Garhi for their own protection. But all was in vain since Khasa defeated the native and then captured the fort. Following Khasa, Kshatiya invaded this land and ruled over it. In this way during different periods of time the place was ruled by different rulers. Finally, the British came to this region and they made the place, a part of Dehradun and Saharanpur. After sometime the British established a new district in this region and they named it, Pauri. During that period the present day’s Chamoli district was a tehsil of the newly formed Pauri. Chamoli was emerged as a separate district in the map of Uttarakhand in the year 1960.
Chandi Prasad Bhatt, an eminent Indian Gandhian environmentalist and social activist who founded the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) in Gopeshwar in 1964, which after sometime became a mother-organization to the Chipko Movement was born on 23rd June, 1934 at Gopeshwar in the Chamoli district. The Government of India honoured him with the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award in 2005. Again, he was conferred with another esteemed prize i.e. Gandhi Peace Prize in the year 2013.
Geographically, the district lies at 30°66'N latitude, 79°56'E longitude and 1293 m altitude. In the year 2019, there was a total 33.74% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses a geographical area of 8,030 sq km. and it is bounded by Tibet Autonomous Region on the North, Bageshwar district and Almora district on the South, Pithoragarh district on the East and Uttarkashi district, Rudraprayag district and Pauri Garhwal district on the West. The climate of the district remains pleasant throughout the year. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1278.2 mm in the year of 2019-20.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 6 tehsils namely Joshimath, Karnaprayag, Tharali, Gair, Chamoli and Pokhri. Moreover, it comprises 6 sub-districts, 6 towns and 1,246 villages. The administrative language in the district is Hindi.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 3,91,605 out of which 1,93,991 are males and 1,97,614 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 1019 (females for 1000 males). During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 5.74% including 5.58% were males and 5.89% were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 98.52% of the total population. The population density in the district is 49 persons per sq. km. According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Hindi with 96.21%. In the year 2018 the number of live births in the district was 5,544 including 2,968 were males and 2,576 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 2,114 including 1,204 were males and 910 were females.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of the district. Most of the lands in the district are use for agricultural purposes. More than half of its population are engaged in agriculture in order to earn their livelihood. The chief agricultural products in the district are wheat, maize, rice, pulses, etc. The adoption of the new agricultural technologies amongst the famers of the district helps to increase the production of various agricultural items. Every year a huge chunk of revenue comes from the agricultural products in the district helps in its economy to a great extent. The district is also rich in mineral resources. Soapstone, Copper, Iron, Graphite, Gypsum, Lead, Slate, Limestone, etc are the commonly found mineral resources in the district. But the district is scantily industrialised. In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Chamoli as one of the country's 250 most backward districts and currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF). In the year 2016-17 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 5,73,115 lakh at current price and Rs. 4,67,071 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 5,06,875 lakh at current price and Rs. 4,10,003 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost in the district during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 1,18,448 at current price and Rs. 95,811 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
The district is well-known as an abode of several reputed educational institutions. It provides a platform for higher education. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 82.65% including 93.4% are males and 72.32% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 2,80,556 including 1,55,395 are males and 1,25,161 are females.
The district has many centres of attraction which allures numerous travellers from different parts of the country as well as world. Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary set up in the year 1972 covers an area of about 967 sq km. of the Garhwal Himalayas. Tourists come to this place to enjoy its magnificent sceneries which includes the high undulating mountains and valleys, thick verdure forests and grasslands. Badrinath temple near to the Chamoli is a sacred place of the Hindu pilgrimage centre which is even a part of the 'Char Dhams' of the Uttarakhand state. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was constructed by Adi Shankaracharya but later was refurbished by the Garhwal rulers. Tapta Kund, a pious hot water spring is located in front of a temple at the bank of Alaknanda River. People from far off places come to this place to take a bath in the holy kund. Some other notable places of interest in the district are Nanda Devi National Park, Hemkund Sahib, Joshimath, Auli, Gopeshwar, etc.