Isère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from the main part of the former province of Dauphiné. Its area has been reduced twice, in 1852 and again in 1967, on both occasions losing territory to the department of Rhône.
In 1852 in response to rapid urban development round the edge of Lyon, the (hitherto Isère) communes of Bron, Vaulx-en-Velin, Vénissieux and Villeurbanne were transferred to Rhône. In 1967 the redrawing of local government borders led to the creation of the Urban Community of Lyon (more recently known simply as Greater Lyon / Grand Lyon). At that time intercommunal groupings of this nature were not permitted to straddle departmental frontiers, and accordingly 23 more Isère communes (along with 6 communes from Ain) found themselves transferred to Rhône. The affected Isère communes were Chaponnay, Chassieu, Communay, Corbas, Décines-Charpieu, Feyzin, Genas, Jonage, Jons, Marennes, Meyzieu, Mions, Pusignan, Saint-Bonnet-de-Mure, Saint-Laurent-de-Mure, Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, Saint-Priest, Saint-Symphorien-d'Ozon, Sérézin-du-Rhône, Simandres, Solaize, Ternay and Toussieu.
Isère was also the name of the French ship which delivered the 214 boxes holding the Statue of Liberty.
Isère includes a part of the French Alps. The highest point in the department is the Sub-Peak "Pic Lory" at 4,088 metres, subsidiary to the Barre des Écrins. The summit of La Meije at 3,988 metres is also very known. The Vercors Plateau dominates the west of the department.
Inhabitants of the department are called Isérois.
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As early as the 13th century, residents of the north and central parts of Isère spoke a dialect of the Franco-Provençal language called Dauphinois. It continued to be spoken in rural areas of Isère into the 20th century.
Isère features many ski resorts, including the Alpe d'Huez, Les Deux Alpes, the 1968 Winter Olympics resorts of Chamrousse, Villard de Lans, Autrans. Other popular resorts include Les 7 Laux, Le Collet d'Allevard, Méaudre, Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, Alpe du Grand Serre, Gresse-en-Vercors.
Grenoble has a dozen museums, including the most famous created in Grenoble in 1798, the Museum of Grenoble.
It is the third largest ski and winter destination of France, after Savoie and Haute-Savoie, and before Hautes-Alpes. It also hosts Coupe Icare, an annual festival of free flight, such as paragliding and hang-gliding, held at the world-renowned paragliding site at Lumbin.
Other companies include STMicroelectronics France, Schneider Electric SA, Caterpillar France SAS, Hewlett Packard, Becton Dickinson France SAS, Soitec, Siemens, Teisseire. There are also well-developed industries in new technologies with Inovallée and the Polygone Scientifique.