The district had a population of 22,000. According to the 2002 census 55% of its population is Armenian, 22% Caucasus Greeks, 12% Georgian, and 9.5% Azerbaijanis. Some of Tsalkan Greeks are Turkophone, and are known as Urums. In the past they used to be the majority in the town of Tsalka but now their weight considerably decreased due to emigration (primarily to Greece).
Several thousands of ethnic Georgians who had suffered from landslides in Svaneti and Adjara were settled in Tsalka in 1997-2006. The town and its district has experienced occasionally violent ethnic division in the recent decade.