The erstwhile Garhwa Subdivision of Palamau district consisting of 8 Blocks was separated from Palamau district as an independent district “Garhwa” with effect from 1 April 1991. It is situated on Southwest corner of Palamau division, which lies between 23060’and 24039’ N latitude and 83022’ and 84000’ E longitude. The district is surrounded by river Sone in the north; Palamau district and area of Chhattisgarh in the south; Palamau district in the east and Surguja district of Chhattisgarh and Sonebhadra district of U.P. in the west. Garhwa district is a part of Palamau Commissionery consisting of 14 blocks and two subdivisions namely Garhwa & Nagar-Untrai.
As of 2001[update] India census, Garhwa had a population of 36,708. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Garhwa has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 69%, and female literacy is 51%. In Garhwa, 17% of the population is under 6 years of age.