The region was founded on January 15, 1940. It was abolished in 1962 and restored in 1966. The region is situated in the west of the Vitebsk oblast and borders on the Braslav, Miory, Postavy and Glubokoye regions.
The regional centre is the town of Sharkovshchina, 210 km away from Vitebsk and 195 km away from Minsk. The total area of the region is 1.100 square kilometers. The region stretches 60 km from west to east, 30 km from north to south. There are 7 village councils, 272 settlements in the region.
Major minerals are clay, sand, gravel and peat. Forests account for 19% of the territory.
There are 11 lakes (the total area is 470.5 hectares) and 4 artificial ponds (35 hectares). The River Disna and its confluents Mnuta, Berezovka and Yanka flow from west to east. There is also the water protection area Yelnya in the region.
Four parks laid out in the 18th -19th centuries survive. There are 36 wild sanctuaries of the oblast and local importance. The total area is 6.800 hectares. Three bird species are under the protection of the state (osprey, merlin, black stork). They are inscribed on the Red Book of Belarus.
The region is famous for its historical landmarks. These include a whitestone church (1912) in the town of Sharkovshchina and Holy Assumption Church on the bank of the Disna River, Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation (1787) in Germanovichi. The architectural ensemble in Gorodets is the species of the 18th -19th centuries architecture. It includes St. Mikhail Church and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Luzhki, a chapel and a country estate in the village Gorodets.