The city has 44,185 inhabitants (14.8% Hungarian, 3.3% Ruthenian; 1992 census).
Neighboring communities are: Sărăsau, Săpânţa, Ocna şugatag, Giuleşti, Vadu Izei, Rona de Jos and Bocicoiu Mare communities in Romania, Bila Cerkva community and Solotvino "town type community" in Ukraine (Transcarpathia).
King Ladislas IV of Hungary settled Romanians in this territory between 1272 and 1290. The Dragoă family in Maramureă was the founder of the Principality of Moldova. In 1352 the city was a free Royal Town, capital of Máramaros County.
From 1556 – like the Castle of Huszt – the settlement became the town of the Prince of Transylvania. From 1570 – 1733 the town and the county was the part of the Principality of Transylvania. In 1733 King Charles III reallocated it and Máramaros County to Hungary from Transylvania. Máramarossziget was one of the Romanian and Ruthenian cultural and political centers in Hungary. In 1910 the settlement was a town in the Máramaros County of the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Hungarian administration lasted until 1944 and in these years more than 20,000 Jews from Sighet would be sent to Auschwitz and other extermination camps. Nowadays there are only about 100 Jews living in Sighetu Marmaţiei. The Jewish community was formerly led by the Teitelbaum family who also led that of the Satmar (Moshe Teitelbaum was Sigheter Rebbe before succeeding his uncle Joel Teitelbaum as Satmar Rebbe).
The Treaty of Paris at the end of World War II rendered the Vienna Diktat void, and Sighetu Marmaţiei returned to Romania. The settlement was a town 1952 – 1960 in Baia Mare Region, a city 1960 – 1968 in Maramureă Region and since 1968 in Maramureă County.
Well-known Hungarian naturalist-realist painter Simon Hollósy was born in the town on February 2, 1857.