It was elevated to a full-fledged district of Assam on 14th August, 1987. Earlier it was a sub division of Sivasagar district. The district got its name from the two Assamese words, one is “gola” means shop and another one is “ghat” means the landing point of river ferry. There is a story associated with the name of the place Golaghat which is originated from the shops established by Marwari (who have their origin in Rajasthan) businessmen during the mid of 20th century AD at the bank of river Dhansir, near to the present Golaghat town. National Park is situated in Golaghat district. On the other hand, some inscription on rocks of Nagajari Khanikar village of Sarupathar, remnants of fortifications, brick structures, monuments, temples, tanks, etc. are the proof of the glorious history of 9th-century kingdom in the Doyang-Dhansiri valley. The valley of Doyang-Dhansiri was under the rule of the Ahoms in the 16th century. Prior to the Ahom’s reign, this part was occupied by the Kacharis popularly known as Herombial. Then the Kacharis were forced to leave the place and they moved towards western side of the Karbi Hills. At that time the Ahom king appointed a ruler entitled 'Morongi-Khowa Gohain', an administrative post with the Rank of a Governor/Minister of the Ahom administration. A large number of people from different parts of the Ahom kingdom were started to settle in the earlier Kachari Kingdom, under the Morongi-Khowa Gohain . Interestingly, most of the Morongi-Khowa Gohains were appointed from the Burhagohain families but few exceptions. Numaligarh fort, constructed by Numal Gohain, a young Ahom prince was served as the administrative headquarters of the 'Morongi-Khowa Gohain' and also as a border trade post with the Nagas, Kacharis, Dimasas and other such hill people. During the British rule Golaghat district is famous for its participation in the freedom struggle of India. Kushal Konwar, Kamala Miri, Dwariki Das, Biju Vaishnav, Sankar Chandra Barua, Shri Tara Prasad Barooah, Rajendra Nath Barua, Gaurilal Jain, Ganga Ram Bormedhi and Dwarikanath Goswami are some eminent freedom fighters, born in the soil of Golaghat.
Geographically, the district lies at 26°51'N latitude, 93°97'E longitude and 95 m Altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 19.25% forest area of total geographical area. The district has an average elevation of 95 metres (311 feet). The district occupies a geographical area of 3,502 sq km. and it is bounded by the Brahmaputra River on the north, Nagaland on the south, Jorhat on the east and Karbi Anglong and Nagaon on the west. Dhansiri River, originates from the Laisang peak of Nagaland is the major river of the district. The river Kakodonga marks the border between Golaghat and Jorhat districts. Mostly during the summer and monsoon seasons the weather of the district remains hot and humid. Moreover, most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1381.6 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administrative wise, the district has been divided into 5 divisions namely Golaghat central, Golaghat east, Golaghat west, Golaghat north and Golaghat south. Moreover, it comprises 6 sub-districts, 7 towns and 1,125 villages. The administrative language in the district is Assamese and English.
As per 2011 census, the population of the district is 10,66,888 including 5,43,161 are males and 5,23,727 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 964 (females for every 1000 males) and child ratio of 963 (females per 1000 males). The population growth rate in the district during the year 2001-2011 was 12.75% out of which 10.78% were males and 14.85% were females. According to 2011 census, the prominent religion in the district is Hindu with 85.99% of the total population. The population density in the district is 305 (persons per sq. km.). As per 2011 census the principal language in the district is Assamese with 78.40%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 21,840 out of which 10,992 were males and 10,848 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 7,032 out of which 4,092 were males and 2,940 were females.
Most of the population of Golaghat district is dependent on agriculture. The main agricultural crops of the district are tea, rice and sugar cane. The reeling and rearing of Muga (Muga means silk in Assamese), the making of Japi (Japi means headgear in Assamese) and the extraction of agaru oil (agaru oil means eagle wood oil in Assamese) are the prime cottage industries of the Golaghat district. Numaligarh Oil Refinery of Numaligarh is the only heavy industry in the district. In the year 2018-19 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 10,47,974 lakhs at current price and Rs. 7,87,784 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2007-08 was Rs. 2,29,757 lakh at current price and Rs. 1,76,587 lakh at constant prices in the year 1999-2000. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2018-19 was Rs. 82,272 at current price and Rs. 59,870 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
As per 2011 census the literacy rate of the district is 77.43% including 83.56% are males and 71.09% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 7,21,764 out of which 3,96,475 are males and 3,25,289 are females. The total number of illiterates in the district is 3,45,124 out of which 1,46,686 are males and 1,98,438 are females. The district has some good old institutions which are able to achieve their distinctive credits in terms of academic performance.
Gulab Borbora, a well-known politician of Assam. He was born on 29th August, 1925 in Golaghat. He was the first non Congress chief minister of Assam from 1977 to 1979. He was a member of Janata Party. Raibahadur Ghanashyam Barua, another eminent politician of the district was the first Central Minister of Assam.
The district attracts a huge number of travellers every year. Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam is a world heritage site. Tourists from far places come to Kaziranga to see the one-horned rhinoceroses. Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary, another tourist place of the district. It is one of the oldest sanctuary containing hot water spring and waterfalls. It is surrounded by Nambor Sanctuary having 51 rare species of Orchid. Science and Nature Museum (Uncle Robin's Children Museum) is a famous museum of the district, within the residence of Dr Robin Banerjee, an internationally reputed naturalist. Golaghat Gymkhana was constructed by Raibahadur Ghanashyam Barua in 1910, is also a place of interest of the district. Some other foremost centres of attraction of the district are Golaghat Baptist Church, Golaghat Amateur Theatre Society, Dhansiri river ghat, Jamuna Water Park, Jamuna Water Body, Japixojia Lake, Athkheliya Namgarh (Namgarh means place of worship in Assamese), Nambor-Doigrung Wildlife Sanctuary.