Rukum District belonged to Province No. 5 and partially to Karnali Pradesh before split into two districts Western Rukum and Eastern Rukum after the state’s reconstruction of administrative divisions in 2017. Rukum covers an area of 2,877 km² with population of 207,290 in 2011 Nepal census. It is in the basin of Bheri River, a major tributary of the Karnali. Most of Rukum is drained by west-flowing tributaries such as Uttar Ganga draining Dhorpatan Valley and to the north of that the Sani Bheri draining southern slopes of the western Dhaulagiri Himalaya.
Elevation ranges from below 800 meters along the Bheri and its lowest tributaries to about 6,000 meters in the Dhaulagiris with a range of climates from sub-tropical to perpetual snow and ice. Agricultural use ranges from irrigated rice cultivation through upland cultivation of maize, barley, wheat, potatoes and fruit, to sub-alpine and alpine pasturage reaching about 4,500 meters.