Irkutsk, city (1989 pop. 626,000), capital of Irkutsk region, S Siberian Russia, at the confluence of the Angara and Irkut rivers. It is an industrial center, a port, the site of a hydroelectric dam, and a major stop on the Trans-Siberian RR. Manufactures include aircraft, automobiles, machine tools, textiles, chemicals, food products, and metals. Founded as a Cossack fortress in 1654, Irkutsk became the capital of Eastern Siberia in 1822. It has been a place of exile since the 18th cent. Many of the Decembrists settled in Irkutsk after their imprisonment, and a few of their houses are now open as tourist sites. In the city are a university (founded 1918) and several agricultural, medical, and technical schools. The Irkutsk dam has raised the level of nearby Lake Baykal by 20 ft (6 m).
Irkutsk (Ирку́тск; ; Эрхүү Erkhüü) is one of the largest cities in Siberia and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, situated by rail from Moscow. Population:

Geography and climate

The city proper lies at the Angara River, a tributary of the Yenisei, below its outflow from Lake Baikal, and on the bank opposite the suburb of Glaskovsk. The river, which has a breadth of is crossed by a flying bridge and two other bridges downstream. The Irkut River, from which the town takes its name, is a small river which joins the Angara directly opposite the town. The main portion of the city is separated from several important landmarks—the monastery, the fort, and the port, as well as its suburbs by another tributary, the Ida, or Ushakovka River.

As a Siberian city, Irkutsk experiences a subarctic climate, characterized by extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. Temperatures can be very warm in the summer, and brutally cold in the winter. However, Lake Bajkal takes its effect, such that temperatures in Irkutsk is not as extreme, as elsewhere in Siberia. The warmest month of the year in Irkutsk is July, when the mean temperature is , the highest temperature recorded being 37 C. The coldest month of the year is January, when the mean temperature is only . Precipitation also varies widely throughout the year, with the wettest month also being July, when precipitation averages 119 mm (4.70 in). The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 mm (.30 in), mainly due to the fact that almost all precipitation during the Siberian winter falls as fluffy, low moisture content snow.

Irkutsk is situated in a landscape of rolling hills within the thick taiga, typical of eastern Siberia, and in contrast to the flat, open steppe of western Siberia.

According to the regional plan Irkutsk city will be agglomerated with the satellite industrial towns of Shelekhov and Angarsk to form a metropolitan area with a total population of over one million.


Irkutsk grew out of the winter quarters established (1652) by Yakov Pokhabov for gold-trading and for the collection of the fur tax from the Buryats. The town gained official city rights from the government in 1686. The first road connection between Moscow and Irkutsk, the Siberian Road (Сибирский Тракт, Sibirsky Trakt), was built in 1760. The city benefitted economically from this new road. Many new products, often imported from China, were widely available in Irkutsk for the first time, including gold, diamonds, furs, wood, silk, and tea.

In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Irkutsk became the major center of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage comes from them; many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, survive today in stark contrast with the standard Soviet apartment blocks that surround them.

By the end of the 19th century there was one exiled man per two locals. Different people from the members of the Decemberists' uprising to Bolsheviks have been staying in Irkutsk for a long time. These people have greatly influenced the culture and the development of the city and it has finally became a prosperous cultural and educational center for Eastern Siberia.

1879, on July 4 and 6, the palace of the (then) Governor General, the principal administrative and municipal offices and many of the other public buildings were destroyed by fire; and the government archives, the library, and the museum of the Siberian section of the Russian Geographical Society were utterly ruined. Three quarters of the city were destroyed, including approximately four thousand houses. However, the city quickly rebounded, with electricity arriving in 1896, the first theater being built in 1897, and a major train station in 1898. The first train arrived in Irkutsk on August 16 of that year. By 1900, the city had earned the nickname "The Paris of Siberia."

During the civil war that broke out after the Bolshevik Revolution, Irkutsk became the site of many furious, bloody clashes between the "Whites" and the "Reds". In 1920, Kolchak, the once-feared commander of the largest contingent of anti-Bolshevik forces, was executed there, effectively destroying the anti-Bolshevik resistance.

During the Communist years, the industrialization of Irkutsk, and Siberia in general, was heavily encouraged. The large Irkutsk Reservoir was built on the Angara between 1950 and 1959 in order to facilitate industrial development.

The Epiphany Cathedral (illustrated, to the right), the governor's palace, a school of medicine, a museum, a military hospital, and the crown factories are among the public institutions and buildings. The Alexander Kolchak monument, designed by Vyacheslav Klykov, was unveiled in 2004. On July 27, 2004, the Irkutsk Synagogue (1881) was gutted by a conflagration.


The emblem of Irkutsk features an old symbol of Dauria: a Siberian tiger with a sable in his mouth. When the emblem was devised in 1690, the animal was described as a tiger ("babr", a bookish word of Persian derivation) with a sable in his mouth. This image had been used by the Yakutsk customs office from about 1642. It has its origin in a seal of the Siberia Khanate representing a sable and showcasing the fact that Siberia (or rather Yugra) was the main source of sable fur throughout the Middle Ages. (Actually, the English word "sable" is derived from the Russian "sobol").

By the mid-19th century, the word "babr" had fallen out of common usage, but it was still recorded in the Armorial of the Russian Empire. Furthermore, the tigers became extinct in this part of Siberia. In the 1870s, a high-placed French heraldist with a limited command of Russian assumed that "babr" was a misspelling of "bobr", the Russian word for "beaver", and changed the wording accordingly. This modification engendered a long dispute between the local authorities, who were so confused by the revised description that they started to depict the "babr" as a fabulous animal, half-tiger and half-beaver.

The Soviets abolished the image altogether, but it was restored following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.



Irkutsk hydropower station is the first cascade hydropower station in Irkutsk region. The building of dam was started in 1950 and finished in 1958.


The most famous large-scale industry in Irkutsk is Irkut (company). Irkut () refers to the Irkutsk Aviation Industrial Association,it was setup in 1932 in the Transbaykal region in the Russian Federation. It is best known as being the manufacturer of the Su-30 family of interceptor/ground-attack aircraft.The Russian government is planning to merge Irkut with Ilyushin, Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Tupolev, and Yakovlev as a new company named United Aircraft Building Corporation.


Important roads and railways like the Trans-Siberian Railway connect Irkutsk to other regions in Russia and Mongolia. Also, the city is served by the Irkutsk International Airport and the smaller Irkutsk Northwest Airport.

The Federal road to Vladivostok passes through a suburb of Irkutsk.


Television and mass media

There are many state and privately owned television stations in Irkutsk, including state IGTRK company and private ones AS Baikal TV, TV company AIST, TV company Gorod, and e.g. VSP newspaper agency. Irkutsk live webcamera inlc. life temperature in city center:


Irkutsk is home to Irkutsk State Railway Transport University (since 1975), Irkutsk State University (1918), Baykalsky State University of Economics and Law (since 1932), Irkutsk State Technical University (since 1939), Irkutsk State Academy of Agriculture, Irkutsk State Linguistic University (1948), Irkutsk State Medical University, Irkutsk State Pedagogical College, and a number of private colleges: Siberian Institute of Law, Economics and Management (since 1993), Institute of Economics of ISTU (since 1996), and others.


As part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences there are nine research institutes located in the Irkutsk Academgorodok suburb: Institute of Geography, Energy Systems Institute, Institute of Geochemistry, Institute of Systems Dynamics and Control Theory, Earth's Crust Institute, solar-terrestrial physics institute, Institute of Chemistry, Institute of Limnology (located on lake Baikal shore), Institute of Plants Physics, Laser Physics Institute (Branch of the Novosibirsk-based Institute). Apart from SB RAS Research Institutes, there are R&D institutes including GAZPROM R&D Institute (Branch of Moscow-based Institute), Irkutsk Institute of Less-Common and Precious Metals and Diamonds.


Irkutsk has long been home to the well-known Russian writer Valentin Rasputin; many of his novels and stories take place in the Angara Valley. An essay on the cultural history of Irkutsk (and another one about the nearby Lake Baikal) is included in Rasputin's non-fiction collection Siberia, Siberia, which is also available in English translation.

Sister Cities / Twin Cities

Irkutsk has the following sister/twin city relationships:

Images of Irkutsk



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