The district is named after the former Princely State of Banswara. There are two traditions regarding the etymology of Banswara. According to one tradition, it is derived from the name of the Bhil chief Bansia who ruled over this area before being killed by Maharaval Jagmal Singh in 1529 CE. According to the other tradition, the name is derived from the Bans Vara (the country of bamboos) due to the abundance of bamboos in the dense forests of this region.
Banswara is part of the Vagad region of southern Rajasthan, which includes Banswara and Dungarpur districts. The region is mainly inhabited by tribals, predominantly Bhils. Banswara and Dungarpur are combilnely called VAGAR, and in both the places local language is VAGRI.
The District lies in the Mahi River basin. The Mahi flows north through the district from its origin in the Vindhya Range of Madhya Pradesh, entering the district from the southeast and flowing north towards the northern end of the district, where it turns southwest to form the boundary between Banswara and Dungarpur districts before entering Gujarat and emptying into the Gulf of Cambay.
Banswara district is divided into 3 sub-divisions, which are further divided into 5 tehsils and 8 development blocks. Banswara sub-division consists Banswara and Garhi tehsils, Ghatol sub-division consists Ghatol tehsil and Kushalgarh sub-division consists Kushalgarh and Bagidora tehsils. The 8 development blocks in the district are: Talwara, Garhi, Ghatol, Peepal Khunt, Bagidora, Anandpuri, Kushalgarh and Sajjangarh.
The district consists 5 Vidhan Sabha constituencies, Kushalgarh, Danpur, Ghatol, Banswara and Bagidora. All of them along with 3 other Vidhan Sabha constituencies from Dungarpur district are part of the lone Lok Sabha constituency of the district, Banswara.