Recklinghausen is a Kreis (district) in the middle of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Borken, Coesfeld, Unna, district-free cities Dortmund, Bochum, Herne, Essen, Gelsenkirchen and Bottrop, and the district Wesel.
In medieval times the area around Recklinghausen was the Vest Recklinghausen, a territory which belonged to Electorate of Cologne. From 1446 to 1576 it was rented to the lords of Gemen (now part of the city Borken) and Schaumburg-Lippe. In 1811 it was added to the Grand Duchy of Berg, and in 1815 became part of the Prussian Province of Westphalia.
The district was created in 1816, and after several changes it got its present borders with the last reorganizations of 1975-76.