The district headquarters are located at Alpuri. It was previously a subdivision of Swat District but was upgraded to the status of a district on July 10, 1995. The total area of the district is 1,586 square kilometers.
Shangla comprises two sub-divisions, Alpuri and Puran Tehsil. Shangla has the lowest Human Development Index in the province and second lowest in the country, According to the 2017 census, the district had a population of 757,810 with a population density of 480 persons per square kilometre. There are relics of the ancient Greek period at Pirsar, Chakesar, and Daut. it is believed that Alexander the Great camped at Pirsar for a few days. There are also relics of the Hindu Shahi in Olandar-Ajmair.
Shangla district consists of small valleys and is situated between the hillocks and surrounded by high mountains full of forests comprising Pindrow Fir, Morinda Spruce, Blue Pine (Kail), Chir Pine, and Deodar Cedar trees.
The average elevation of the district is 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level. The highest point (3,440 m) is near Kuz Ganrshal in the north of the district.