Chiefland City Hall
Chiefland City Hall
Chiefland water supply tower

Chiefland terms itself the "Gem of the Suwannee Valley," although the town actually straddles the high point between the Suwannee River and Waccasassa River drainages. There used to be a Timucua village just south of the present townsite but the Timucua vanished into extinction about 200 years ago.

Traditionally, the local economy ran on ranching, farming, dairy, aquaculture and timber, but since the population in this part of Florida started climbing in the last part of the 20th century, Chiefland began to emerge as a regional shopping center. Georgia-Pacific ran a large timber-processing mill in Chiefland from 1955 to 1978, but timber operations have been scaled way back since then. Agriculture and aquaculture are still big but tourism has become more of an influence in recent years.

About six miles west of Chiefland is Manatee Springs State Park, a first-magnitude freshwater spring that is frequented year-round by manatees because of the large volume of steady 72°F water emerging from the ground.

Between 2000 and 2010 the population of Chiefland rose about 12.6%.