The district was established in the year 1858 with headquarter at Belha Pratapgarh. According to the Gazetteer, it was named Pratapgarh because of a fort built at Rampur by Raj Pratap Singh. The name Belha Pratapgarh was give by adding the two names Belha, the place of the ancient Belha Bhavani temple, situated on the banks of Sai River, and Pratapgarh.
Earlier this district was part of Faizabad division, but in 1988, it became a part of Allahabad Division. Its latitude is 25.91 degrees, while longitude is 81.99. The district shares its boundaries with Sultanpur in the north, Jaunpur in the east, Prayagraj and Kaushambi in the south and Rae Bareli in the west. River Ganga determines its boundary with Fatehpur, Kaushambi and Prayagraj districts and it has a geographical area 3717 sq. km.
According to the 2011 census, there are total 2219 villages in the district, out of which 2183 are populated. The district is 137 m above sea level. The river Gomti flows in the north, Ganges in the south and Sai from west to east. Besides, rivers Chamraura, Paraiya, Bakulahi, Sakrani and Loni also flow through the district. District headquarter is 173 km from state capital Lucknow and is situated in the east. The Sai river, which flows continuously from west to east, divides this district into two parts. The large rainy rivulets and lakes of Bainti, Vihar, Rampur and Taal of Dawoodpur, Rangoli are the main heritage of the district.
There is no mineral wealth in the district and only pebbles are available in some places which are used in road construction. Alkaline soil is used for washing clothes.