The name derives from the fact that the territory formed part of the Duchy of Carinthia, which belonged to the Habsburg Empire until World War I. In 1919, the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia) occupied southern Carinthia. Those parts which are today Slovenian territory were annexed without referendum. However, in the region north, respectively west of this, the voters in the Carinthian Plebiscite on October 10, 1920 determined that those parts should remain with the newly founded Republic of Austria. After World War II, the region formed part of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia and remained part of an independent Slovenia after the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.
The historical region consists of two geographical separate parts:
The modern statistical region has different borders, as it includes the municipalities of Slovenj Gradec, Radlje ob Dravi, Mislinja, Vuzenica, Podvelka and Ribnica na Pohorju, which were historically part of Styria, while the historically Carinthian area around Jezersko has been incorporated into the statistical region of Upper Carniola.