Kvinesdal was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). Feda was separated from Kvinesdal on 1 January 1900 but again merged with Kvinesdal on 1 January 1963. Fjotland was also merged with Kvinesdal on that date. (Fjotland was in addition a part of Kvinesdal in the period 1841-1858.)
Kvinesdal is an elongated mountain-to-coast municipality, reaching saltwater at the head of the Fedafjord, which provides access to the North Sea in the south. Further north, the landscape is cut in narrow valleys with small villages scattered around. There are also abandoned mines at Knaben, which remains an immensely popular Ski resort. Due to Kvinesdal resembling the geography of the nation as a whole, it is often referred to as "Little Norway".
Kvinesdal belongs to a central area in the Norwegian south from which a lot of people emigrated to North America, particularly the United States, from the 1850s until the 1950s. It is noted for being an "American village" (Norwegian: Amerika-bygd) due a high number of American citizens residing in the municipality. These are typically either Norwegians who moved to the States, obtained US Citizenship and later moved back to Norway, or the descendants of Norwegians who themselves have never acquired Norwegian citizenship.