Oude IJsselstreek is a rural municipality. The total area of the municipality amounts to 137.8 km². It has over 40,000 inhabitants spread over 14 centres. With almost 11,000 the village of Ulft has the most inhabitants. Terborg is the only town in Oude IJsselstreek, with over 4,500 people. Ulft and Terborg, together with the villages of Varsseveld, Silvolde and Gendringen are the five largest centres of the municipality. The other villages and hamlets are: Bontebrug, Breedenbroek, Etten, Heelweg, Megchelen, Netterden, Sinderen, Varsselder en Veldhunten, Voorst en Westendorp.
The name Oude IJsselstreek refers to the Oude IJssel river that flows through the municipality. The river has played a major part in the history and the layout of a number of large residential areas in the municipality.
The industriousness in the municipality has its roots in the (former) iron foundries (Huts) along the Oude IJssel river. The later iron industry with well-known names such as DRU, ATAG, ETNA, BENRAAD and PELGRIM provided many people with jobs for a long period of time. Nowadays, employment is more diverse. In addition to the iron industry, the inhabitants now work in the wood industry, agriculture and in the field of recreation and tourism. There are a total of 2,290 companies in the municipality, providing 16,510 jobs.
Of importance to the development of especially places such as Ulft and Gendringen is the presence of the Oude IJssel river and bog ore. There was plenty of bog ore and it was easy to dig. The iron pans underneath the farmlands are very harmful to the crops and the bog ore posed a problem to the farmers. In 1753 the plan arose to start an iron foundry. The ore became profitable and the farmers’ problems were solved.
In 1754 iron foundry ‘Olde Hut’ was established in Ulft. This was the second blast-furnace company in the Netherlands. After a couple of years this ‘iron hut’ was taken over by Diepenbrock en Reigers (DRU, Diepenbrock en Reigers Ulft). In 1821 a second iron hut was established on the border of Terborg and Gaanderen: Vulcaansoord. In 1885 Bellaard, Becking en Bongers in Ulft opened another iron foundry. This foundry was popularly called ‘the new hut’. At the end of the 19th century the blast-furnace companies continued as iron foundries. In 1911 iron foundry Lovink was established in Terborg. The Lovink company is the only company still present in the municipality of Oude IJsselstreek today.
On the premises of the two former iron foundries in Ulft, called Het Gietelinck and Hutten Zuid, houses and recreational facilities are being built now. On Het Gietelinck part of the original buildings have been conserved, including the striking water tower, the porter’s building and the boilerhouse of the former DRU factory. These are beautiful examples of 19th century industrial architecture. The property is a national monument and soon there will be 300 houses and cultural facilities here, partly in the old buildings. Also the Nederlands IJzermuseum (iron museum) will be established here. On Hutten Zuid 260 houses are being built.
Iron and metal play are an important part in the municipality of Oude IJsselstreek. This is reflected in the many iron and bronze pieces of art that can be found in the municipality, especially in and around Ulft.