Salem district is a district of Tamil Nadu state with its administrative headquarters located at Salem city. The history of the district can be trace back to the stone ages. The presence of Paleolithic and Neolithic stone implements and lots of fertilize ash in the nearby areas of Salem proves of the prehistoric culture in the district. The culture of this region depicts the cultural picture of 3rd century B.C. and the ancient Chola Nadu. This place was culturally and economically very advanced during the Christian era since at that time silver coins were used by the Roman Emperor Tiberices Claudices Nero (37-68 A.D.). After some time it was captured by Poligars, who constructed numerous beautiful temples and forts in and around the place. During the early 18th century before being captured by Hyder Ali and after the Mysore-Madurai war, it was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. It was ceded to the British in 1768 and at that time the area became part of the struggle between Kongu Nadu led by Dheeran Chinnamalai and the British. Salem became part of Salem district since independence in 1947. Earlier, it was the largest district of Tamil Nadu but later it was divided into two parts i.e. Salem–Dharmapuri districts in 1965 and Namakkal district in 1997.
The town and the surrounding hilly regions were part of the Chera dynasty and was part of the trade route with the Roman empire. It was later governed by Poligars, who built temples and forts in and around the city. It was part of the Vijayanagara empire before being captured by Hyder Ali during the early 18th century, after the Mysore-Madurai war. It was ceded to the British in 1768 and the area became part of the struggle between Kongu Nadu led by Dheeran Chinnamalai and the British. Salem became part of Salem district since independence in 1947.
Geographically, the district lies at 11°66'N latitude, 78°15'E longitude and 1515 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 28.09% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses a geographical area of 5,237 sq. km. and it is bounded by Dharmapuri district on the north, Namakkal district and Tiruchirappalli district on the south, Erode district on the east and Viluppuram district and Perambalur district on the west. The climate of the district is characterised as moderate dry climate but it remains pleasant during the monsoon season. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1116.5 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 11 taluks namely Attur, Edappadi, Gangavalli, Mettur, Omalur, Salem, Salem South, Salem West, Sankagiri, Pethanaickenpalayam, Valapady and Yercaud. There are 16 assembly constituencies in the district. Moreover, the district comprises 68 towns and 585 villages. The administrative language in the district is Tamil.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 34,82,056 including 17,81,571 are males and 17,00,485 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 954 females for every 1000 males. During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 15.44% out of which 13.94% were males and 17.06% were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 95.53% of the total population. The population density in the district is 665 persons per sq. km. According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Tamil with 88.48%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 49,173 out of which 25,924 were males and 23,249 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 33,337 out of which 20,399 were males and 12,938 were females.
The district is very famous as textile centre of south India. During the pre-independence period also the district has numerous handloom and spinning mills. Salem is also rich in variety of natural resources. It has one of the largest magnetite and bauxite deposits in India. Some of its population are also engaged in agriculture. The chief agricultural products in the district are paddy, cucumber, green gram, black gram, horse gram, turmeric, sugarcane, mango, tapioca, groundnut, gingerly, red gram, etc. Industrially, Salem district is well developed and every year a huge chunk of revenue comes from its industries. Some of its notable industries are Salem Steel Plant, Salem Diary, Sambandam Spinning mill, Jawahar Mills, Narasus Roller Flour Mills, Salem District Coop Spinning Mill, Tamil Nadu Magnetite, Tata Refractories and B.S.P. Refineries. In the year 2011-12 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 30,55,776 lakhs at current price and Rs. 19,43,274 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2018-19 was Rs. 64,41,679 lakh at current price and Rs. 47,06,498 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 1,39,937 at current price and Rs. 1,07,483 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. Salem district provides a platform for higher education. Moreover, the district has many different types of schools including government schools and private schools. Some of its reputed educational institutions are namely Yercaud montford, Cluny convent, Malco Vidyalaya, St. Maries School, Vaideeswara hr sec school, Jairam arts and Science College, Thiyagara Polytechnic College, Sona College of Engineering, Government College of Engineering and Periyar University. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 72.86% including 80.24% are males and 65.15% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 22,85,562 including 12,85,107 are males and 10,00,455 are females.
S. Semmalai, an eminent Indian politician and the member of 15th Lok Sabha (2009-2014) from Salem Constituency was born on 9th June, 1945 at Molaipatti village in the district. He is a member of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) political party.
Salem, an enchanting place of Tamil Nadu has numerous set of tourist places which allures many travellers from across the country. Yercaud, a well known hill station of Tamil Nadu is situated at a distance of 22 km. from Salem city. This place is popularly known as the Ooty of Salem. The region is also favourable for the plantation of coffee and oranges. A small zoological park named Kurumpapatti Zoological Park is located 6 km. away from Salem city. One can found a large variety of birds in this park like white peacock, small multicolour cranes, etc. Panamarathupatti Lake is a natural lake situated near the Panamarathupatti village. This lake attracts many birds during the season. It is a perfect destination for nature’s lovers. The district has some extraordinary waterfalls like Myluthu falls, Hogenakkal falls, Agaya Gangai waterfalls, Kiliyur Falls, etc. Sankakiri Fort, a wonderful historical fort is situated at a distance of 30 km. from the city. There are 10 compound walls, 5 temples, 2 mosques and 6 platforms within the fort.