The major languages in the district are Pashto, spoken by 75% of the population, and Hindko – spoken by 20%. The Hindko dialect of this district is Kohati and it is confined to the city of Kohat and a string of villages running east along the road to Kushalgarh on the Indus. There is also a group of native speakers of Urdu (0.8%) and Punjabi (4%).
From the early sixteenth century the history of Kohat revolves around three major tribes namely Bangash, Banoori, and Afridi. These people appear to have settled in the district, during 14th and 15th centuries. From 16th to 18th centuries, Kohat being part of Mughal Empire was administered by the Chiefs of two afore mentioned tribes. In the beginning of the 19th century Kohat came under the control of Sikhs who ultimately withdrew leaving to the administrative control of Khan of Teri in 1836.