The town of Abbottabad, under the British Raj, was the headquarters of the Hazara District during British rule of India. It was named after Major James Abbott who founded the town and district in January 1853 after the annexation of Punjab. He remained the first Deputy Commissioner of the Hazara district from 1849 until April 1853. Major Abbott is noted for having written a poem titled "Abbottabad", before he went back to Britain, in which he wrote of his fondness for the town and his sadness at having to leave it. In the early 20th century, Abbottabad became an important military cantonment and sanatorium, serving as the headquarters of a brigade in the Second Division of the Northern Army Corps.The garrison consisted of four battalions of native infantry (Gurkhas and Frontier Force) and four native mountain batteries.
In 1901, the population of the town and cantonment was 7,764and the income averaged around Rs. 14,900. This increased to Rs. 22,300 in 1903, chiefly derived from octroi. During this time chief public institutions were built such as the Albert Victor unaided Anglo-Vernacular High School, the Municipal Anglo-Vernacular High School and the Government dispensary.In 1911, the population had risen to 11,506 and the town also contained four battalions of Gurkhas.
In June 1948, the British Red Cross opened a hospital in Abbottabad to deal with thousands of patients who were being brought in from the Kashmir fighting areas.On 8 October 2005 Abbottabad was devastated by the Kashmir earthquake. Although most of Abbottabad survived, many old buildings were destroyed or damaged.
The city is bounded at all four sides by the Sarban hills, from which residents and tourists can see breathtaking views of the region and city. The location of the city and the hills allows Abbottabad to experience pleasant weather in the summer and cold winters. Neighbouring districts are Mansehra to the north, Muzaffarabad to the east, Haripur to the west and Rawalpindi to the south. Tarbela Dam is situated west of Abbottabad.
Abbottabad is situated in the Orash Valley lying between 34°09′N latitude and 73°13′E longitude at an altitude of 4,120 feet (1,260 m).
Abbottabad has a humid subtropical moderate climate, with mild to warm temperatures during the spring and autumn months, humid temperatures during June and July and cool to mild temperatures during the winter. The temperature can rise as high as 30 °C during the mid-summer months and drop below 0 °C during the winter months. Snowfall can occur in January, though it is sparse, while most rainfall occurs during the monsoon season stretching from May to August and frequently causes flooding.