Diversity is key: the Alb-Donau-Kreis region
Alb-Donau-Kreis is characterised by a vast diversity of landscapes. From the high plateaus of the Swabian Jura in the north and west with their distinct juniper heaths, the valleys of the rivers Blau and Lone as well as Schmiech and Lauter lead down to the riverscapes of the Danube and Iller in the south and east of the administrative district. With its more than 26,000 inhabitants, Ehingen is the district’s largest city.
The Jura mountainscape was home to the predominantly Evangelical territories of the Free Imperial City of Ulm and the Duchy of Württemberg. The Danube and Iller are lined with the baroque-style cities, churches and monasteries of Catholic Upper Swabia. The region included small-sized dominions held by imperial knights, monasteries and Further Austria. The minute, artfully carved ivory figurines and flutes on the other hand, which were found in the caves of Lone and Ach Valley, are reminiscent of completely different, even more distant times. Dated about 40,000 years ago, they are some of the first works of art of humanity. The flutes are considered to be the oldest music instruments made by humans. In 2017, the caves found in Ach and Lone Valley were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Since the 19th century, the lime and cement industry has played a key role in the industrialisation of today’s Alb-Donau-Kreis region. And it still is an important industrial sector. Today, the district’s economic landscape is characterised by mechanical engineering, toolmaking and special equipment construction, automotive suppliers, pharmaceutical businesses as well as logistics, wholesale and an exceptionally fast-growing service sector. Ulm is an important hub for the district’s economy and scientific research. That is why the district administration is located in this self-governing city situated in the heart of the district.
A good mix of commerce and service sector has led to extraordinarily positive employment figures. In Alb-Donau-Kreis, more than 50,000 people are employed in part-time and full-time jobs (figures excluding marginal employment contracts not subject to insurance). The population has also been growing rapidly in the past three decades. Since district’s founding in 1973, the number of inhabitants has increased by more than 27 per cent to more than 197,000.
Steep river valleys, caves and springs, the juniper heaths of the Swabian Jura, the sweeping reedlands near Langenau, numerous fortresses and castles, the large monastery complexes in Blaubeuren and Obermarchtal, the lovely historical old towns of Blaubeuren, Ehingen, Munderkingen, Schelklingen and Oberdischingen: the cultural and recreational landscapes of Alb-Donau-Kreis have long been well-known destinations of the tourism industry. Parts of the district area belong to the Swabian Jura biosphere reserve, and the administrative district is also part of the Swabian Jura UNESCO Geopark.
Together with the city of Ulm and the Neu-Ulm regional district, Alb-Donau-Kreis is also member of the “Ulm Innovative Region”.