On February 18, 1805, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Highland County. The county was originally parts of Ross, Adams, and Clermont Counties. Residents chose the name Highland because the county is situated on high land between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers.
Highland County is located in southeastern Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with less than one percent of the county's 553 square miles consisting of urban areas. Hillsboro is the county seat and only city within Highland County.
The largest employers in Highland County are manufacturing businesses. Retail positions and government are the second and third largest employers respectively. The county does have a tourist industry, with Fort Hill State Memorial, Rocky Fork State Park, and Paint Creek State Park being the primary attractions.
Cartoonist Milton Caniff and temperance advocate Eliza Jane Thompson, who founded the Women's Christian Temperance Union, rank among the counties more prominent residents. Ohio Governors Allen Trimble and Joseph B. Foraker also resided in the county.