There is an interesting story associated behind the name of the district. Gumla began as a hamlet. Earlier a week-long “Cow Fair” (Gau-Mela) took place in the town every year. During the cow fair people from distance places were drawn to the town to buy and sell these agricultural staples. Gradually people started to inhabit in the small hamlet permanently and it grew into a village. The village was given the name “Gumla” by the natives. During the rule of British, Gumla was a part of the Lohardaga district. In the year 1843 it went under the Bishunpur province that was later named as Ranchi. In 1902, Gumla became a subdivision of the Ranchi district. Gumla as a separate district came into existence in 18th May, 1983. Sri Jagannath Mishra the then ruling Chief Minister of Bihar inaugurated it and Sri Dwarika Nath Sinha acquired the post of 1st deputy commissioner of the newly formed district. Gumla is a religious place as well since it considered to be the birthplace of the Hindu God Hanuman. A temple a few kilometers away from the city off the Gumla-Ghaghra road is dedicated to him and his mother. The district contains mountains named "Risyamook", which are mentioned in the great epic, Ramayana. At present, the district is a part of the Red Corridor.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka (1942-1971) from the district was a brave soldier in the Indian army. He was posthumously awarded the Paramvir Chakra. In 2000, on the occasion of 50th Republic day, the Government of India issued a postal stamp in his memory. Other famous personalities of the district are the freedom fighters Sri Buctor Sai and Sri Moondal Sai. They were born in the Raidih block of the district. Both of them proved iron-gram for the British and they never accepted their slavery.
Geographically, Gumla lies in 23°04'N latitude and 84°54'E longitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 26.92% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses an area of 5,360 sq kms. and it is bounded by Jashpur District and Chattisgarh State to the west, Khunti and Ranchi District to the east, Lohardaga District to the north and Simdega District to the south. The three major rivers that flow through the district are South Koyel, North Koyel and Shankh. The people of Gumla enjoy a good climate characterized by a pleasant cold and temperate weather conditions. The maximum temperature during summer is 40-20°C and the minimum temperature during winter is 21-3°C. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1015.9 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administrative wise, the district is divided into 11 blocks namely Gumla, Kamdara, Basia, Bharno, Palkot, Raidih, Sisai, Bishunpur, Chainpur, Dumri and Ghaghra which serve as prime units of economic development. Moreover, the district comprises 3 towns and 946 villages. The administrative language in the district is Hindi.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 10,25,213 out of which 5,14,390 are males and 5,10,823 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 993 females for every 1000 males. During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 23.16% including 22.83% were males and 23.49% were females. The population density in the district was 191 persons per sq. kms. As per 2011 census the major religions in the district are Hindu and Christian with 30.19% and 19.75% of the total population. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district are Hindi and Kurukh/Oraon with 58.07% and 29.61%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 22,794 out of which 11,749 were males and 11,045 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 4,779 out of which 3,061 were males and 1,718 were females.
The district is rich in natural and mineral resources. So, a huge part of the economy of the district comes from mines. There are 23 bauxite mines and 68 stone mines in Gumla. Besides these there are many brick makers. The district receives funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF) for the reason that in 2006 the Indian government declared Gumla as one of the backward district of Jharkhand. In the year 2008-2009, the gross domestic product of the district was Rs. 2,58,447 lakh at current price and Rs. 2,00,963 lakh at constant prices in the year 1999-2000. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2008-09 was Rs. 2,24,932 lakh at current price and Rs. 1,83,118 lakh at constant prices in the year 1999-2000. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost in the district during the period 2008-09 was Rs. 14,786 at current price and Rs. 12,037 at constant prices in the year 1999-2000.
As per 2011 census, the literacy rate in the district is 65.73% including 75.55% are males and 55.9% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 5,59,720 including 3,21,795 are males and 2,37,925 are females. The district is not affluent in the field of education. In 1986, Rakesh Popli and his wife Rama Popli, expert in child education, established the first Ekal Vidyalaya (one-teacher) school to bring education to the tribes of the Gumla region. Students are compelled to go to Ranchi for higher education because of the scarcity of good colleges in the district.
Kartik Oraon, a well known politician was born on 29th October, 1924 at Karound Littatoli village of the district. For several times, he represented Lohardaga constituency in the Parliament of India and also rose to become State Minister for Aviation and Communication in the Government of India.
There are many tourist places in the district which allures a number of travellers every year. Anjan is one of the well-known places of interest of the district. It is a small place about 18 kms. away from the district. Anjan is the birthplace of lord Hanuman. Basudeokona is located 3 kms. east from Raidih block. It is famous for religious stone idols (Ajanta caves stone idols). Netarhaat, a place few kilometers away from the Gumla District, is admired for beautiful sunset and sunrise. Many people come here for finding peace. It is also called “The Door of Heaven”. Panch Pandava Pahar is situated in Bishunpur block. It is a group of five hills so it is named as Panch Pandava Pahar. Native believes that the pandavas had spent some times here during Agyatwas (agyatwas means exile in Hindi). Nagpheni is situated in the middle of Gumla and Sisai block. It is famed for the Jagarnath temple and there is a big rock in the shape of snake "Nag". Palkot (Pampapur) of the district is also a centre of attraction among travellers. There is a description of Pampapur, located on Rishimukh Parvat, in Ramayana. Villagers believe that the ancient Pampapur is present day’s Palkot. Hapamuni, a famous and ancient village, is situated in Ghaghara block of the district. Mahamaaya temple is the significant temple of the place. Dewaki, a place of religious interest, is located on the bank of river Ghaghra in Ghaghra block. Shiv-Parvati temple, of this place is a remarkable temple.