The name comes from the Xia dynasty king Tai Kang, who sited his capital in the area. It was also called Yangxia, also a reference to the Xia king. As a major thoroughfare, the county has been historically important. It was the hometown of Wu Guang, one of the peasant leaders of the rebellion against the Qin dynasty. It was also the ancestral hometown of the Xia and Yuan surnames, who dominated the government of the Southern Dynasties.
Today, Taikang is a primarily agrarian county, with some light industry. The county is famous for its production of cotton.