Student or Learner
Original sentence: Until recently, there was little awareness of the problem.
Does it mean that at present, there are 'more' awareness of the problem but in the past, there was little?
Does until recently means until now? To me, 'until recently' is still a reference to the past.
Do we usually use the past tense for this construction with 'until recently'?
I am also slightly confused by the following entry in Oxford dictionary. 'Until recently working or living in the place mentioned' means he just left?
(formal) until recently working or living in the place mentionedProfessor Jones, late of Oxford University
"Recently" means "a relatively short time ago" so "Until recently" does not mean "Until now". In your first example, you're right - it means that now there is more awareness than there was. That awareness started to grow only recently. Before then, there was very little awareness.
Yes, it refers to the past.
It is now Friday. Until last Tuesday, I had a job. Now I'm unemployed.
I recently lost my job.
Until recently, I had a job. Now I'm unemployed.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.