Buliisa District was created in 2006 by the Ugandan Parliament. Prior to that, Buliisa District was part of Masindi District. The district is primarily rural and most people in the district are either pastoralists, fisherpeople or subsistence agriculturalists. The district is part of Bunyoro sub-region, which is coterminous with Bunyoro Kingdom. According to the 2002 national census, Bunyoro was home to an estimated 804,000 people at that time. The districts that comprise Bunyoro Kingdom include:
The 1991 population census estimated the population of the district at about 47,700. In 2002, the national census conducted that year estimated the district population at about 63,400, with an annual population growth rate of 2.2%. In 2012 the population of Buliisa District was estimated at about 80,800. The table below illustrates the population growth trajectory for the district during the first decade of the 21st century. All numbers are estimates.
During the first 10 years of the 2000s, a considerable amount of crude oil deposits have been discovered in the district. The Ugandan Government is in the final stages of preparing to start extracting the oil discovered in Buliisa and the neighboring districts.