Isère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Dauphiné. Its area has been reduced twice, in 1852 and again in 1967.
Isère was also the name of the French ship which delivered the 214 boxes holding the Statue of Liberty.
Inhabitants of the department are called Isérois.
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 and Les Deux 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.