The District of Nuapada was a part of Kalahandi District until early March 1993, but for administrative convenience, Kalahandi District was divided into two parts i.e. Kalahandi and Nuapada - see State Government Notification No. DRC-44/93/14218/R dated 27 March 1993. Nuapada District now comprises one sub-division Nuapada, five tehsils (Nuapada,Komana,Khariar,Sinapalli and Boden) and five community development blocks (Khariar, Sinapalli, Boden, Nuapada and Komna).
Nuapada district is in the western part of Odisha, lying between latitude 20° 0' N and 21° 5' and between longitude 82° 20' E and 82° 40' E. Its boundaries extend in the north, west and south to Mahasamund district in Chhattisgarh and in the east to Bargarh, Balangir and Kalahandi districts. The district has an area of 3407.5 km² and the administrative headquarters is located at Nuapada.
The plains of Nuapada subdivision are fringed by rugged hill ranges stretching southward, which belong to the main line of the Eastern Ghats and contain extensive plateaus of about 4000 ft (1200 m) in elevation with thick tropical vegetation. They contain such mineral deposits of laterite, graphite and bauxite.
Due to conspicuous absence of any Industry the economy revolves around Agricultural activities.Three major irrigation projects Upper Jonk,Sunder dam and up coming Lower Indira Irrigation Project provide support to 45,000 acres of land.Paddy is the main crop in the entire district.Other crops like Maize,cotton,and onion make a major share of crop cultivated.more than 10,000 house holds migrate to other state in search of better employment opportunities every year after the harvesting season is over.though the district tops in MGNREGS implementation the Advance provided by labor contractors before Nuakhai festival lure ignorant laborers into the plot.Due to unregistered and uninformed migration protection of migrant laborers has become a challenge to the government. In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Nuapada one of the country's 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640). It is one of the 19 districts in Odisha currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).
The hillsides rising up precipitously from the plains are covered with dense sal forests. The forests of the district are managed under Forest Division namely Khariar Division. According to their composition, the forests can be classified into sal forests, teak forests, miscellaneous forests where sal, teak and other species occur in mixture and bamboo forest. All these are situated in the dry deciduous forest zone. Timber is by far the major forest produce and sal is no doubt, a major constituent of these products. Other important species are bija, asan, bandhan and teak. Among the minor forest produces of this region are kendu leaf, bamboo, broom-grass, mohua flower and seed, antia bark and sabai-grass. Timber, bamboo and kendu leaf are the main exports outside the state.
Nuapada district has been perennially in the news during 80s due to acute drought conditions and allegations of deaths by starvation. When Nuapada district was carved out of Kalahandi district, all the drought-prone blocks came under the jurisdiction of Nuapada district, whereas the fertile land came under Kalahandi district. Hence the proverbial "starvation deaths" of Kalahandi were actually a feature of Nuapada and not of Kalahandi district.However the situation has changed tremendously at the outset of 21st century.Nuapada produces surplus paddy which is utilized by other deficit district.Due to well monitored public distribution system starvation is no more a concern.However underdevelopment particularly in Naxal affected Sunabeda plateau riddled with naxal violence taken the place of starvation death in recent times.
Nuapada (then under Kalahandi) had made news headlines when a tribal woman named Phanas Punji of Amlapalli village in the district sold off her teen-aged sister-in-law Banita to an unemployed blind man for forty rupees and a saree. Following the incident, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made a visit to the village. The incident has since become part of Odisha folklore.