It was formed in 1784 when New Brunswick was partitioned from Nova Scotia. Once a layer of local government, the county seat was abolished with the New Brunswick Equal Opportunity program in 1966. Counties continue to be used as census sundivisions by Statistics Canada.
Located in the southwestern corner of the province, bordering the US state of Maine, Charlotte County is at the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains, which gives it a rugged terrain that includes Mount Pleasant. The St. Croix, Magaguadavic, and Digdegaush rivers drain into the Bay of Fundy. The county includes the large, populated islands of Grand Manan, White Head, Deer Island, and Campobello.
Eighteen per cent of the workforce is employed in aquaculture. Connors Bros., the largest sardine canning facility in North America, is located in Blacks Harbour. Cooke Aquaculture is an Atlantic salmon farming company, founded and headquartered in St. George. A paper mill, operated by JD Irving, is in Utopia, and Flakeboard Co. Ltd. operates outside of St. Stephen. Ganong Bros., Canada’s oldest chocolate company, maintains its factory in St. Stephen.
Governance is in the form of New Brunswick municipalities in the case of the towns of St. Andrews, St. George, and St. Stephen, the villages of Grand Manan and Blacks Harbour, and the rural community of Campobello Island. The remaining parts of the county are administered as local service districts of the Southwest New Brunswick Regional Service Commission, except Clarendon, which is part of RSC 11 in neighbouring Sunbury County.