The Wainganga and its tributaries are the most important rivers in the district. The town of Balaghat is on the Wainganga, which flows north and south through the district and forms part of the boundary with Seoni District. The Bagh, Nahra and Uskal rivers are tributaries of the Wainganga. The Bawanthadi and Bagh rivers define the boundary with Maharashtra.
Geographically the district is divided into three distinct parts:
Administratively, the district is divided into eight development blocks: Waraseoni, Balaghat, Katangi, Paraswada, Baihar, Khairlanji, Laanji, and Kirnapur.
In the 1991 Census, the total population of the district was 1,365,870.
Balaghat is directly connected by bus with larger cities such as Bhopal, Nagpur, Gondia, Jabalpur, Raipur, etc. The nearest airport is at Nagpur.
About 80% of the manganese production in India comes from Balaghat District. The recently discovered copper deposit at Malajkhand is regarded as the largest in the country. Bauxite, Kyanite, and limestone are the other main minerals of the district.
The Deogarh kingdom was annexed by the Bhonsle Marathas of Nagpur in 1743, and shortly thereafter conquered all but the northern section of the district. This section, together with the rest of the Garha-Mandla kingdom, was annexed in 1781 to the Maratha province of Saugor, then under control of the Maratha Peshwa. In 1798 the Bhonsles also obtained the former Garha-Mandla territories.
In 1818, at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War, The Nagpur kingdom became a princely state of British India. In 1853, the Nagpur kingdom, including Balaghat District, was annexed by the British, and became the new province of Nagpur. Balaghat District was then divided among the British districts of Seoni and Bhandara. Nagpur Province was reorganized into the Central Provinces in 1861.
Balaghat District was constituted during the years 1867 by amalgamation of parts of the Bhandara, Mandla and Seoni districts. The headquarters of the district was originally called "Burha" or "Boora". Later, however, this name fell into disuse and was replaced by "Balaghat", which was originally the name of the district only. Administratively, the district was divided into two tehsils, Baihar tehsil in the north, which included the plateau region, and Balaghat tehsil, which included the more settled lowlands in the south. The new district was part of the Central Provinces' Nagpur Division.
In the middle of the 19th Century the upper part of the district was a lightly settled, but a handsome Buddhist temple of cut stone, belonging to some remote period, is suggestive of a civilization which had disappeared before historic times. The first Deputy-Commissioner of the district, Colonel Bloomfield, encouraged the settlement of Baihar tehsil with Ponwar Marathas from the Wainganga Valley. About that time one Lachhman Naik established the first villages on the Paraswara plateau.Malanjkhand is the most populer copper mine in Asian Region.
In 1968-9 the rains ceased a month before time, causing the failure of the lowland rice crop and a famine. The district suffered very severely from the famine of 1896-1897, when the output of all crops fell to only 17 percent of normal. The district suffered again in 1899-1900, when the rice crop failed again, falling to only 23 percent of normal. The population in 1901 was 326,521, having decreased 15% in the decade 1891-1901, due to the effects of famine.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the district had only of paved roads, together with of unpaved roads. The Jabalpur-Gondia railway line through the district was completed in 1904, with six stations in the district.
After Indian Independence in 1947, the Central Provinces became the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. In 1956, Balaghat District became part of the Jabalpur Division of Madhya Pradesh, when the districts to the south of Balaghat, including Gondiya, Bhandara, and Nagpur districts, were transferred to Bombay State.