Jorhat ("jor" means twin and "hat" means market) means two hats or mandis - "Masorhaat" and "Sowkihat" which existed on the opposite banks of the Bhugdoi river.
Jorhat was the last capital of the Ahom Kingdom, as a planned town under royal patronage. It is often spelt as "Jorehaut" during the British reign. In 1794, the Ahom King Gaurinath Singha shifted the capital from Sivasagar, erstwhile Rangpur to Jorhat. Many tanks were built around the capital city by the Ahom royalty such as Rajmao Pukhuri or Borpukhuri, Buragohain Pukhuri, Bolia Gohain Pukhuri, Kotoki Pukhuri and Mitha Pukhuri. This town was a flourishing and commercial metropolis but was destroyed by a series of Burmese invasion of Assam between 1817 and the arrival of the British force in 1824 under the stewardship of David Scott and Captain Richard.
From the very first decade of the British rule, revolutionaries like Gomdhar Konwar, Dhananjay Borgohain, Jeuram Dihingia Baruah , and Peuli Phukan emerged. The British system of administration came into vogue in the year 1839 with an established Police Thana. During the great Sepoy Mutiny, Maniram Dewan and Piyali Barua were publicly hanged here in 1858.
In 1885, a narrow-gauge railway, Jorehaut Provincial Railway, became operational. In time, this contributed to the rapid growth of the tea industry.
The municipality covers an area of 9 square kilometres (3.5 sq mi), has 19 wards with a population of about 1.53 lakhs at present, with 72.8 square kilometres (28.1 sq mi) for master plan area. The district spreads over 2,851 square kilometres (1,101 sq mi) and had a population of 870,000 according to a 1991 census. Population density at that time was 306 persons per square kilometre (793/sq mi). The sex ratio is 913 (913 females per 1000 males).
Jorhat Municipal Board (covering the out growth area) had a population of 1,26,736 as of the 2011 census.
The average literacy rate of Jorhat in 2011 was 91.39%. Gender-wise, male and female literacy were 93.63% and 88.99% respectively, which is one of the highest in the state. The total literates in Jorhat were 182,600 of which male and female were 96,806 and 85,794 respectively.
Jorhat's sex ratio stood at 935 females per 1000 males, according to the Census 2011 Directorate.
Hindus were 87.49% of the population, while Muslims were 10.50% and Christians 0.62% of the population respectively.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are 6.40% and 1.84% of the population respectively.
Assamese is the predominant language and is spoken by 70.08% of the population, while Bengali was spoken by 12.27%. Hindi (11.60%) and Bhojpuri (1.01%) are spoken by migrants from the Gangetic plains, such as traders and labourers. Other small languages in the city include Marwari, Sadri, Santali, Sora and Odia which in total are spoken by 5.04% of the population.
Jorhat has contributed in the fields of arts, culture and tradition of the contemporary Assamese society. In 1896, Jorhat Theatre was established to perform cultural activities and dramas by some renowned people of the town. The Chandrakanta Handique Bhawan, the headquarters of Asam Sahitya Sabha was established in 1926. Jorhat has produced creative writers, historians and journalists. Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, the first Assamese to win India's highest literature award, the Jnanpith Award, was from Jorhat.
The six daily newspapers published in Jorhat are - Dainik Janambhumi, Amar Asom, Dainik Agradoot and Asomiya Khabar in Assamese, the Purbanchal Prohori in Hindi and The Telegraph in English. The Eastern Clarion was the first English daily published in the city, but it went into administration. Apart from the dailies, weekly newspapers including Saptahik Janambhumi are also published in Jorhat. City Guide of Jorhat was the first yellow pages, published in July 1987. The first online yellow pages of Jorhatmycity  was initiated in January 2013.
Jorhat has a radio broadcast station of All India Radio (AIR) located in the outskirts of the city at Garmur.
District & Sessions Judge Court, Jorhat
The District & Sessions Judge Upper Assam District Jorhat was created on 15 November 1948 and has been made permanent w.e.f the 1 April 1953. The first roll of honor of District & Sessions Judge of Assam Valley, Upper Assam Districts, Jorhat District was Mr. S.K Das, MA, BL. Presently, the territorial jurisdiction of the District is extended over 2(two) sub-divisions namely Majuli Sub-Division and Titabar Sub-Division. Altogether, the District & Sessions Judge and the Chief Judicial Magistrate comprise 15 courts manned by Judicial Officers of various grades. The District & Sessions Judge together with the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Complex, Jorhat is situated in the heart of the city. The Present District & Sessions Judge as the head of the establishment is Shri Mridul Kumar Kalita. The present Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat, the head of all the Criminal Courts is Sri Vijay Kumar Singh.
The first rail connectivity of Jorhat began in the British era. In 1885, Jorehaut Provincial Railway, a narrow-gauge railway services became operational and it contributed to the growth of the tea industry in Upper Assam.
The Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) of Jorhat is located at Kotokipukhuri, Tarajan in the western part of the city. It provides connectivity to elsewhere in the state and the Northeast with regular buses from ASTC and private operators. Auto-rickshaws, local cabs and rickshaws are the main mode of public transport within the city.