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A gerrymander is a voting district in first past the post electoral systems which is geographically nonsensical, created to tweak the representation of various groups in a legislative body. It is named for then-govenor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry and the salamander, and was coined for a state senate district which crawled all the way around the port city of Boston from the shore to the south to the shore to the north, and was illustrated in a political cartoon of the day as an actual salamander.
In the United States, each state is required to reapportion their Congressional districts following each decennial census. The party in power in each state tries its best to increase its representation by this method, even to the level of using computer programs to parse the exact boundaries of the districts. Some states, however, have mandated letting a computer program do the job "honestly", taking the politics out of the task.
State legislatures tend to approve district boundaries that benefit incumbents by making their seats "safer" by concentrating supporters of one political party together in each district. Sometimes a majority party punishes the minority party by redistricting two minority party incumbents into the same district, forcing them to run against each other in a primary. Another strategy is to put as many minority party voters as possible into the fewest possible districts to limit the number of districts with minority party majorities.
The current US House of Representatives reflects pro-Republican gerrymandering by state legislatures, as it has a Republican majority despite the fact that Democratic candidates got more votes overall.
Historically, gerrymandering was used in the U.S. to limit African American representation. More recently, African American advocacy groups and their Democratic allies supported gerrymandering as a means to increase African American representation, but the US Supreme Court ruled in Shaw v. Reno that district lines could not be drawn on the basis of race.