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Ain (French pronunciation: [ɛ̃]; Arpitan: En) is a department named after the Ain River on the eastern edge of France. Being part of the region Rhône-Alpes and bordered by the rivers Saône and Rhône, the department of Ain enjoys a privileged geographic situation. It has an excellent transport network (TGV, highways) and benefits from the proximity to the international airports of Lyon and Geneva.

Ain is composed of four geographically different areas (Bresse, Dombes, Bugey and Pays de Gex) which – each with its own characteristics – contribute to the diversity and the dynamic economic development of the department. In the Bresse agriculture and agro-industry are dominated by the cultivation of cereals, cattle breeding, milk and cheese production as well as poultry farming. In the Dombes, pisciculture assumes greater importance as does viticulture in the Bugey. The high diversification of the department's industry is accompanied by a strong presence of the plastics sector in and around Oyonnax (so-called "Plastics Valley").

Due to its industrial character and a close-meshed tissue of small and medium enterprises, Ain ranks among the departments with the fastest growing economy in the country. Its unemployment rate lies far beneath the national and regional average. Besides the export-oriented SME's, several large enterprises with a leading position on national and international markets have settled in the department.

Although looking ahead, Ain attaches nevertheless great importance to its historical and cultural heritage as illustrate its gastronomy (restaurant of Georges Blanc in Vonnas), its annual poultry competitions in the Bresse ("the three glorious") and its tourism (346 classified monuments such as the famous church of Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse, 14 museums of France, eco-tourism and ski tourism).

It should also be noted that Ain is an uncommon surname that often (if not, usually) suggests an Estonian background.


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