The history of the district is not so clear. The name of the district is taken from the two prominent rivers called Papum and Pare. Ahoms, the King of Assam, ruled the region in medieval period from 1228 A.D. to 1826 A.D. The Nish is accepted the sovereignty of Ahoms but were not paying any taxes to them. In 1672 the Nishi revolted against Ahoms. The clashes between them caused the loss of many lives. The British controlled the region in 19th century. The district was the part of Western Section of North-East Frontier Tract in 1914 renamed as Balipara Frontier Tract in 1919 and later divided in Se LA Sub-Agency and Subansiri Area and in 1954. In 1914, the district was the part of Western Section of North-East Frontier Tract, later renamed as Balipara Frontier Tract in 1919. The tract was divided into Se LA Sub-Agency and Subansiri Area in 1946. The Subansiri Frontier Division was renamed as Subansiri District in 1965. In 1987, it was divided into Upper and Lower Subansiri District. Papum Pare was emerged as a separate district in the year 1999 when it was split from the Lower Subansiri district.
Mamang Dai is a famous Indian journalist, author, poet, and former civil servant. The State government of Arunachal Pradesh was honoured him with Verrier Elwin Award in 2003 and Padam shri in 2011 from the Indian Government. Rajani Kanta Patir was the chief secretary of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Geographically, the district has a total area of 3,603 sq. km. and occupies the rank 12th in State and 334th in India on the basis of the size. It lies at 27017'N latitude, 93070'E longitude and 200 m altitude. In the year 2019, there was a total 92.00% forest area of total geographical area. The district is bounded by Kurung Kumey District, Arunachal Pradesh in the North, by Assam in the South, Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh in the East and East Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh in the West. The main rivers that flow through the district are Panior, Pare, Dikrong. The climate of the district can be characterized as moderate type. The climate of the district remains pleasant almost throughout the year. The actual rainfall in the district was 2870.5 mm in the year of 2018-19.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 3 towns and 485 villages. English is its administrative language. The administrative headquarters of the district is located at Yupia town, situated at the distance of 31 kms from the State Capital. The district has total 3 subdivisions and they are Itanagar capital complex, Yupia, and Sagalee. These 3 subdivisions are further divided into 15 administrative circles namely Balijan, Itanagar, Naharlagun, Doimukh, Toru, Sagalee, Leporiang, Mengio, Kimin, Banderdewa, Tarasso, Kakoi, Gumto, Parang, and Sangdupota. It comprises 4 legislative assembly constituencies such as Itanagar, Naharlagun, Doimukh and Sagalee. All of these are the part of Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency.
Demographically, according to the 2011 census, the district has a total number of 33,476 households with a total population of 1,76,573 comprising 89,182 are males, and 87,391 are females which leads it to rank 1st in the state and 594th in India. The density of population of the district is 49 (persons per sq km.). The sex ratio is pegged at 980 (females per 1000 males) while the child ratio stands at 977 (females per 1000 males). The schedule tribe population of the district is recorded as 1,17,216 including 56,469 are males, and 60,747 are females. The percentage of Schedule Tribe is 12.31%. As per 2011 census the major religions in the district are Christian and Hindu with 47.80% and 32.30% of the total population. The population growth rate during the period of 2001-2011 was 44.73% including 38.95% were males and 51.15% were females. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district are Nissi/Dafla and Bengali with 54.54% and 10.51%. In the year 2017 the number of live births in the district was 8,979 out of which 4,199 were males and 4,780 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 251 out of which 187 were males and 64 were females.
The district is mainly dependent on agricultural sector. Paddy, maize, millet, pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane, tuber crops, wheat are mainly grown here. Citrus, pineapple, kiwi, walnut, mushroom and litchi are some of the prominent horticultural products in the district. The district is rich in mineral resources such as shale, sandstone, quartzite, etc. More than half of their populations are engaged in agricultural activities in order to earn their livelihood. The GDDP or Gross District Domestic Product during 2007-08 was Rs. 26,269 lakh at Current Price and Rs. 41,405 lakh at Constant Prices during 1999-2000. The NDDP or Net District Domestic Product during 2007-08 was Rs. 46,494 lakh at Current Price and Rs. 36,588 lakh at Constant Prices during 1999-2000. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, at factor cost during 2007-08 was Rs. 35,064 at Current Price and Rs. 1,326 at Constant Prices during 1999-2000.
Education wise, according to the 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 79.95% including 86.06% are males and 73.72% are females. The total literate population in the district is 1,21,048 out of which 65,794 are males and 55,254 are females. The total number of illiterates in the district is 55,525 out of which 23,388 are males and 32,137 are females. Himalayan University, Rajiv Gandhi University, National Institute of Technology, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Dera Natung Government College, Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya, Gyan Ganga Vidyapeeth School, Abotani Vidya Niketan, Boum Kakir Mission School, Donyi Polo Vidya Bhawan, Gove Secondary School are some of the main educational institutions in the district.
Nabam Tuki is the member of the Indian National Congress Party. He also served as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh from 2011 to 2016. Shri Nabam Rebia belongs to the Indian National Congress party. He is a member of the Rajya Sabha.
The district has some historical and religious places which are very famous not only within the country but also in the world. These places are Legendary Ganga Lake (Gyakar Sinyi), Donyi-Polo Vidya Bhawan, Institute of Science and Technology (Nirjuli), Government Piggery and Poultry Farm (Nirjuli), Indira Gandhi Park (Itanagar).