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The history of the district is linked with the history of Bamberg.
In 1862 the districts of Bamberg-West and Bamberg-East were established. They were merged in 1929. The present borders were established in 1972, when portions of the adjoining district of Erlangen-Höchstadt were annexed.
The district surrounds the town of Bamberg. The western half of the district is occupied by the Steigerwald, a hilly forest region. In the east there is the hill chain of the Franconian Jura. Between these regions the Main river enters the district from the north, turns around just before the town of Bamberg and leaves to the northwest. The smaller Regnitz river comes from the south and flows into the Main at Bamberg.