Like the neighbouring Vechta district, it is well known for factory farming, especially of turkeys and pigs. These two districts are also known as the Schweinegürtel (“pig belt”). The ground is mostly of poor quality. The mass import of animal food made factory farming possible. With the help of liquid manure, corn is grown, which is also used for a growing production of biogas.
The region was part of the county of Tecklenburg in medieval times. It was then for a long time (1400-1803) property of the bishop of Münster. In 1803 it was annexed by Oldenburg and remained a part of Oldenburg until 1945. The district was established in 1933.
The district comprises the western portion of a historical region called Oldenburgisches Münsterland, which means "lands of Oldenburg formerly held by Münster". It is a plain countryside, which was originally swampy and full of tiny rivers and brooks.
The Thülsfelde Reservoir is an artificial lake that was built between 1924 and 1927 in order to prevent floods in the area. Today it is a major tourist attraction with several camping sites and a youth hostel.