Earlier, Surat was popularly called as Suryapur means the city of the Sun. It is a district of Gujarat and it is situated on the left side of the bank of Tapti River. The name of the district is mentioned in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. The history of Surat district is quite similar to the history of Surat city. It is believed that the place of Surat was founded by a Brahmin called Gopi, who named it as Surajpur or Suryapur. In the 12th and 15th centuries, this area was under the rule of Muslim rulers. It was then occupied by the Portuguese Empire in 1512 and again in 1530. The region got its present name, Surat by 1520 and also emerged as a separate district. Later in 1573, Surat went into the hands of Mughals. During the period of Mughal rule, it was flourished to the fullest. In 1800, the British captured the place of Surat and for the first time England set up its Indian trading factory at in 1612. After that the place was ravaged by the Maratha king, Shivaji for two times. These raids of Shivaji disturbed the trade and caused huge damage to the city. After India got its independence, when India's railways opened, the city started becoming prosperous again.
Narmadashankar Lalshankar Dave, popularly known as Narmad, was a famous Gujarati author, poet, scholar and public speaker. He was born on 24th August, 1833 in Surat. In his honour the South Gujarat University was renamed as Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in 2004. Navalram Pandya and Ranjitram Mehta are the two eminent authors and literary critic born in Surat.
Geographically, the district lies at 21020'N latitude, 72082'E longitude and 13 m Altitude. In the year 2019, there was a total 10.99% forest area of total geographical area. The district occupies an area of 4,549 sq km. and in terms of geographical area it occupies the ranks of 15th in the state and 249th in India. It is bounded by Bharuch, Narmada on the north, Navsari district on the south, Tapi district on the east and the Gulf of Cambay on the west. The chief river of the district is Tapti River. Due to the Gulf of Cambay the climate of Surat is moderate. During the summer days its average maximum temperature is 37 °C (99 °F). Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1284.6 mm in the year of 2018-19.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 9 tehsils namely Choryasi, Mangarol, Olapad, Palasana, Kamarej, Umarpada, Mahuva, Mandavi, Baradoli and Surat city. There are 16 Assembly Constituencies in the district. Moreover, the district comprises 22 towns and 713 villages. The administrative language in the district is Gujarati.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 60,81,322 including 34,02,224 are males and 26,79,098 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 787 females for every 1000 males. During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate of the district was 42.24% out of which 44.04% were males and 40.01% were females. The population density in the district is 1,337 persons per sq. km. In the year 2017 the number of live births in the district was 1,01,073 including 54,032 were males and 47,041 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district is 33,529 including 19,996 were males and 13,533 were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 86.50% of the total population. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district are Gujarati and Bhili/Bhilodi with 60.06% and 1.80%.
Diamond processing, textiles and chemical and petrochemical industries are the backbone of the economy of Surat. The quality of silk produced by Gujarat is very fine so it is often called as the Silk city of India. It has many cotton mills and it has also the biggest man made fibre centre. The city has many good industries likewise ONGC, GAIL, ABG Shipyard, Narmada Cement, Ambuja Cement, Ultra tech Cement, Reliance Petroleum, ESSAR group of Industries, etc which are also contributing in its economy.
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University is the one of the important universities of Surat. Most of the colleges of the district are affiliated to this university. Surat has one of the 30 National Institute of Technology in India i.e. Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology. The district has many reputed IT, engineering and management institutes. Government Medical College and New Civil Hospital and Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education & Research are the two renowned medical colleges of the district. As per 2011 census the literacy rate of the district is 85.53% including 89.56% are males and 80.37% are females.
Darshana Jardosh, an illustrious Indian politician and current member of the Lok Sabha representing the Surat constituency in Gujarat was born on 21st January, 1961 in Surat. She is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kashiram Rana, a distinguished Indian politician and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party was born on 7th April, 1938 in Surat. In 1989, he was elected to the 9th Lok Sabha in Gujarat. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Surat constituency for many times-in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.
The district has various sets of tourist place which allures many travellers from different parts of the world. Jagdish Chandra Bose Aquarium, the first multidisciplinary underwater aquarium of the country is situated at Pal area of Surat. Chintamani Jain Temple situated in the Shahpor area has many ancient rare wooden carvings and paintings of Jain culture. Surat fort or the Old Fort was built by Britishers in the 1616, which is now used for municipal offices. Earlier the Sardar Patel Museum was called the Winchester Museum. The museum was established in 1998 has many antique collection of arts and crafts. Jawaharlal Nehru garden is the largest and one of the oldest gardens in the city which has a musical fountain also. Dumas Beach, located along the Arabian Sea in the city is the most admired centre of attraction. Gavier Lake in the city attracts numerous migratory birds is the best place for nature’s lovers.