Jamtara originated from two words in the local tribal language, Jama (Santali for Snake) and Tar (Settlement) - meaning this area may have been heavily infested with snake. Mihijam, the other big town in the district, has some of the best doctors in the region for snake bites.
Jamtara is located in north-eastern Jharkhand. In the North-East Dumka; in the North-West Giridih; in the South-West Dhanbad and in the South Burdhman (West Bengal) districts border the region. It is located 250 km from Ranchi, the state capital. It has an area of 1801 km². Distance from other major cities like from Howrah is 260 km and from Patna is 290 km.
Jamtara is located at 23°57′N 86°48′E / 23.95°N 86.8°E / 23.95; 86.8. It has an average elevation of 155 metres (508 feet).
Other towns in this district are Nala, Kundahit, Narayanpur and Fatehpur. As part of the economically backward Santhal Pargana area, this district too has not seen much development. In mineral rich Jharkhand, this is one of the districts with no minerals. As a result, employment is low. Add to it the fact that majority of the land in this area is non sellable (a geriatric law from British times), resulting in no outside investment.
Some Major educational institutions in Jamtara District Headquarters for Secondary: JBC+2 HS School, Girls High School, SDDAV School, St Joseph School, Edwards English School Higher Secondary: Jamtara College, Jamtara Mahila College, JBC +2 HS School Graduation: Jamtara College, Jamtara Mahila College.Beside this 1 kendriya vidyalaya is also coming up near the sachivalaya bhawan.
In spite of these Institutions 1 women's ITI & Navodaya vidyalaya are also running in district.
As of 2001 India census, Jamtara had a population of 22,426. Males constitute 50% of the population and females 48%. Jamtara has an average literacy rate of 66%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 75%, and female literacy is 57%. In Jamtara, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age.