The district of Carnarvon was proclaimed on 1 January 1880, incorporating within its boundaries portions of the divisions of Fraserburg and Victoria West. It is located in the heartland of the Karroo, and because of its semi-arid nature, its main economic activities were of a pastoral nature.
The following census figures are available for the division:
1891 census: 9,132 residents, of whom 2,884 were literate
1904 census: 5,792 residents, of whom 2,516 were literate
In the 2011, census the population was 7,360.