The district is located on the upper course of the Havel river from its source to the outskirts of Berlin. The north is characterised by many lakes including the Großer Stechlinsee, which is well known thanks to a novel by Theodor Fontane called Der Stechlin.
The coat of arms shows the eagle as the symbol of Brandenburg in the upper part. In the lower half are two flying swans on green background representing nature with many lakes. The coat of arms was unofficially used by the precursor district of Oranienburg before the merger, but was never officially granted. It was granted to the district of Oberhavel on 18 May 1994.