The parish Stensele was created as late as 1822. It was, together with the parish Tärna, made into a municipality in 1863. In 1903 Tärna was detached to form a municipality of its own. The local government reform of 1971 saw the reunification of Stensele and Tärnaby municipalities, thus forming Storuman Municipality with the name taken from its largest village.
The municipality has Sweden's ninth largest area (8,286 km2), but is sparsely populated with a population density of less than 1 inhabitant per km2.