Elim is located on the northwest shore of Norton Bay on the Seward Peninsula, 96 miles east of Nome. It lies 460 miles northwest of Anchorage. Elim is located in the Cape Nome Recording District. The area encompasses 2.4 sq. miles of land and 0.0 sq. miles of water.

This settlement was formerly the Malemiut Inupiat Eskimo village of Nuviakchak. The Native culture was well-developed and well-adapted to the environment. Each tribe possessed a well-defined subsistence harvest territory. The area became a federal reindeer reserve in 1911. In 1914, Rev. L.E. Ost founded a Covenant mission and school, called Elim Mission Roadhouse. The city was incorporated in 1970. When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971, Elim decided not to participate and instead opted for title to the 298,000 acres of land in the former Elim Reserve. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race passes through Elim each year.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Elim. It is an Inupiat Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. The sale and importation of alcohol is banned in the village.