Arua District got its name from Arua town. In the late 1970s, the Ugandan president at the time Godfrey Binaisa declared that all districts/provinces acquire their names from their regional capital so that is how Arua district inherited the name from Arua town The district originally included Aringa County, which was later split off to become Yumbe District.
The district is the birthplace of former President Idi Amin. Arua District was a springboard for some units of the Uganda People’s Defense Force who entered the DRC at the beginning of the Second Congo War.
Arua District is a peaceful district save for the disruption caused in the late 1990s by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels on the Karuma-Pakwach road that provides the main road link into the district. In 2005, the northeastern part of the district was split off as the separate, new district of Koboko District.
Arua District has five counties after three of the original six counties were split off. Koboko was granted district status. Maracha was, in 2006, also granted district status, (Maracha District). Initially, Terego County was also included in Maracha District (Maracha-Terego District).
However, failing to agree on were the new district headquarters should be located, Terego County opted to remain part of the larger Arua District. The inhabitants of Terego County in Arua District and those of Maracha District, regard themselves as different ethnicities; although the Government of Uganda recognizes them as the Lugbara. The other counties in Arua District are: Vurra, Madi-Okollo and Ayivu; where the Arua District headquarters are located.