For other uses, see Irkutsk (disambiguation).
Irkutsk (English)
Иркутск (Russian)
-  City[1]  -

Industrial panorama in Irkutsk

Location of Irkutsk Oblast in Russia
Location of Irkutsk in Irkutsk Oblast
Coordinates: 52°17′N 104°17′E / 52.283°N 104.283°E / 52.283; 104.283Coordinates: 52°17′N 104°17′E / 52.283°N 104.283°E / 52.283; 104.283
Coat of arms
Anthem none
City Day First Saturday of June
Administrative status (as of December 2014)
Country Russia
Federal subject Irkutsk Oblast[2]
Administratively subordinated to City of Irkutsk[2][1]
Administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast,[2] Irkutsky District,[2] City of Irkutsk[2]
Municipal status (as of December 2004)
Urban okrug Irkutsk Urban Okrug[3]
Administrative center of Irkutsk Urban Okrug,[3] Irkutsky Municipal District[4]
Mayor[5] Dmitri Berdnikov[5]
Representative body Duma
Area 277 km2 (107 sq mi)[6]
Population (2010 Census) 587,891 inhabitants[7]
- Rank in 2010 24th
Density 2,122/km2 (5,500/sq mi)[8]
Time zone IRKT (UTC+08:00)[9]
Founded 1661[10]
Postal code(s)[11] 664xxx
Dialing code(s) +7 3952[12]
Official website
Irkutsk on Wikimedia Commons

Irkutsk (Russian: Иркутск; IPA: [ɪrˈkutsk]) is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, and one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: 587,891(2010 Census);[7] 593,604(2002 Census);[13] 622,301(1989 Census).[14]


Irkutsk Castle in 1735

In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovyo (winter quarters) near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov built an ostrog nearby.[10] The ostrog gained official town rights from the government in 1686. The first road connection between Moscow and Irkutsk, the Siberian Road, was built in 1760, and benefited the town economy. Many new products, often imported from China via Kyakhta, became widely available in Irkutsk for the first time, including gold, diamonds, fur, wood, silk, and tea. In 1821, as part of the Speransky reforms, Siberia was administratively divided at the Yenisei River and Irkutsk became the seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia.

Irkutsk Assembly of the Nobility in the early 1900s

In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile in 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.

Epiphany Cathedral and central Irkutsk in 1865

By the end of the 19th century, there was one exiled man for every two locals. People of varying backgrounds, from members of the Decembrist uprising to Bolsheviks, have been in Irkutsk for many years and have greatly influenced the culture and development of the city. As a result, Irkutsk eventually became a prosperous cultural and educational center in Eastern Siberia.

In 1879, on 4 and 6 July, the palace of the 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 completely ruined. Three-quarters of the city was destroyed, including approximately 4,000 houses.[15] However, the city quickly rebounded, with electricity arriving in 1896, the first theater being built in 1897 and a major train station opened in 1898. The first train arrived in Irkutsk on August 16 of that year. By 1900, the city had earned the nickname of "The Paris of Siberia."

Irkutsk in 1918

During the Russian Civil War, which broke out after the October Revolution, Irkutsk became the site of many furious, bloody clashes between the "Whites" and the "Reds". In 1920, Aleksandr Kolchak, the once-feared commander of the largest contingent of anti-Bolshevik forces, was executed in Irkutsk, which effectively destroyed the anti-Bolshevik resistance.

Irkutsk was the administrative center of the short-lived East Siberian Oblast, which existed from 1936 to 1937. The city subsequently became the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast after East Siberian Oblast was divided into Chita Oblast and Irkutsk Oblast.

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

Epiphany Cathedral (built in 1718–1746)

The Epiphany Cathedral (left), 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 Aleksandr Kolchak monument, designed by Vyacheslav Klykov, was unveiled in 2004. On 27 July 2004, the Irkutsk Synagogue (1881) was gutted by a conflagration.


The city proper lies on the Angara River, a tributary of the Yenisei, 72 kilometers (45 mi) below its outflow from Lake Baikal and on the bank opposite the suburb of Glaskovsk. The river, 580-meter (1,900 ft) wide, is crossed by the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Dam and three other bridges downstream.

The Irkut River, from which the town takes its name, is a smaller river that joins the Angara directly opposite the city. The main portion of the city is separated from several landmarks—the monastery, the fort and the port, as well as its suburbs—by another tributary, the Ida (or Ushakovka) River. The two main parts of Irkutsk are customarily referred to as the "left bank" and the "right bank", with respect to the flow of the Angara River.

Irkutsk is situated in a landscape of rolling hills within the thick taiga that is typical in Eastern Siberia.

According to the regional plan, Irkutsk city will be combined with its neighboring industrial towns of Shelekhov and Angarsk to form a metropolitan area with a total population of over a million.


Irkutsk originally had a borderline subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dwc). Since 2000, the temperatures have resembled a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dwb). Snow cover disappeared earlier, from late April in the 1930s to late March in the 1980s. Discontinuous permafrost depth had decreased from 200 m to 100 m during the same period.

Irkutsk is characterized by an extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. It can be very warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter. However, Lake Baikal has its effect, such that temperatures in Irkutsk are not as extreme as elsewhere in Siberia. The warmest month of the year in Irkutsk is July, when the average temperature is +18 °C (64 °F), the highest temperature recorded being +37.2 °C (99.0 °F).

The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is −18 °C (0 °F), and record low of −49.7 °C (−57.5 °F). Precipitation also varies widely throughout the year, with July also being the wettest month, when precipitation averages 113 millimeters (4.4 in). The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 millimeters (0.30 in). Almost all precipitation during the Siberian winter falls as flurry, low moisture content snow.

Climate data for Irkutsk (normals 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 2.3
Average high °C (°F) −12.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −17.8
Average low °C (°F) −21.8
Record low °C (°F) −49.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 13
Average rainy days 0 0.04 1 9 15 18 18 17 16 9 2 0 105
Average snowy days 21 16 13 11 3 0.2 0 0 2 10 20 23 119
Average relative humidity (%) 82 76 65 56 55 67 74 78 76 73 79 85 72
Mean monthly sunshine hours 93 149 207 223 266 264 243 218 182 152 93 62 2,142
Source #1:[16]
Source #2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)[17]

Administrative and municipal status

Irkutsk is the administrative center of the oblast and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Irkutsky District,[2] even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the City of Irkutsk[1]—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the City of Irkutsk is incorporated as Irkutsk Urban Okrug.[3]

Coat of arms

The original version of the coat of arms
A fountain in Kirov Square

The coat of arms of Irkutsk features an old symbol of Dauria: a Siberian tiger with a sable in his mouth. When the coat of arms 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.



The 662.4 MW Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station was the first cascade hydroelectric power station in the Irkutsk region. The construction of the dam started in 1950 and finished in 1958.[18]


The largest industry in Irkutsk is Irkut, the Irkutsk Aviation Industrial Association,[19] which was set up in 1932 in the Transbaykal region of the Soviet Union. 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.[20]

There is the Irkutsk Aluminium Smelter which belongs to the Rusal Company.[21]


Passenger railway station in Irkutsk
Tram in Irkutsk

Important roads and railways like the Trans-Siberian Highway (Federal M53 and M55 Highways) and Trans-Siberian Railway connect Irkutsk to other regions in Russia and Mongolia. The city is also served by the Irkutsk International Airport and the smaller Irkutsk Northwest Airport.

The Federal road and railway to Moscow and Vladivostok pass through the other side of the Angara River from central Irkutsk.

Trams are one major mode of public transit in Irkutsk. Other modes are trolleybus, bus, and fixed-route taxi, cycling (marshrutka).


Irkutsk Academic Drama Theater

Television and mass media

There are many state-owned and privately owned television stations in Irkutsk, including state company IGTRK[22] and private ones, such as AS Baikal TV,[23] TV company AIST,[24] TV company Gorod,[25] and also other media outlets, like the VSP Newspaper Agency.[26] There is also a live webcam broadcasting from the city center.[27]


Irkutsk is home to the East Siberian Education Academy (since 1909), Irkutsk State University (1918), Irkutsk State Medical 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 Railway Transport University (since 1975), 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 Irkutsk is within the influence of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences, there are nine research institutes located in the Irkutsk Academgorodok suburb: the Institute of Geography, the Energy System Institute, the Institute of Geochemistry, the Institute of System Dynamics and Control Theory, the Earth's Crust Institute, the Solar-Terrestrial Physics Institute, the Institute of Chemistry, the Limnological Institute (formerly located on Lake Baikal's shore), the Institute of Plant Physics, Laser Physics Institute (a Branch of the Institute of Laser Physics in Novosobirsk). A number of institutes conduct research within Irkutsk State University: the Institute of Biology, the Institute of Oil and Coal Chemistry and Synthesis, the Laboratory of Quantum Chemistry, the Institute of Applied Physics, the Interregional Institute of Social Studies, the Astronomical Observatory, and the Botanical Gardens. The East-Siberian Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences is also located in Irkutsk and is represented by the following research organizations: the Scientific Center for Medical Ecology, the Institute for Paediatrics and Human Reproduction, the Institute for Microbiology and Epidemiology, the Institute for Medicine of the Workplace and Human Ecology, the Institute of Reconstructive and Restorative Surgery, the Institute of Surgery, and the Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics. Also, the Fyodorov Eye Microsurgery Scientific and Technical Center has a branch in Irkutsk. Additionally, there are R&D institutes including GAZPROM R&D Institute (a Branch of a Moscow-based institute), the Irkutsk Institute of Rare and Precious Metals and Diamonds (Irgiredmet), part of the Petropavlovsk Group of Companies.,[28] and the Vostoksibacademcenter of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences that publishes the Project Baikal journal.


Irkutsk was 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 an English translation.


The Church of the Cross (1747–60) is a pinnacle of the Siberian Baroque architecture

Irkutsk[29] is a point of interest for tourists with its numerous museums and old architecture. The Taltsy Museum (Russian: Тальцы), located on the Angara 47 kilometers (29 mi) South of Irkutsk, is an open-air museum of Siberian traditional architecture. Numerous old wooden buildings from villages in the Angara valley, which have been flooded after the construction of the Bratsk Dam and Ust-Ilimsk Dam, have been transported to the museum and reassembled there. One of the centerpieces of the collection is a partial recreation of the 17th-century ostrog (fortress) of Ilimsk, which consists of the original Spasskaya Tower and the Church of Our Lady of Kazan transported from the flooded ostrog in the mid-1970s, to which an exact modern copy of another tower of the ostrog and the Southern wall of the fortress were added in the early 2000s.[30]

The Botanic Garden of the Irkutsk State University known as the "Irkutsk Botanic Garden" is the only botanic garden as a living museum in Irkutsk Oblast and Baikalian Siberia. Its mission is "to protect and enrich the flora of the Lake Baikal area and the world for people through public education, collection, propagation, research, and conservation of plants". The garden is mainly an educational and scientific tool for the Irkutsk State University and maintains the largest plant collection of living plants in Eastern Siberia (more than 5000 plant taxa), a herbarium, and a seed bank. It occupies 27 hectares within Irkutsk city, 70 km (43 mi) West of Lake Baikal. It has a federal status of especially protected land and a nature memorial of Irkutsk.


Irkutsk is also home to several theaters, including the Okhlopkov Drama Theater, one of Russia's oldest.[31]


Bandy is popular in the city. There are several clubs, most notably Baykal-Energiya[32] of the Russian Bandy Super League, which can draw spectator crowds of 30,000.[33] It is also the centre of women's bandy in Russia with the club Rekord,[34] which provides most players to the national team.[35] 2012 Women's Bandy World Championship[36] was hosted in Irkutsk and received praise from Federation of International Bandy.[37] 2014 Bandy World Championship was played in the city.[38][39] The final of Russian Bandy Super League 2016 will be played at Rekord Stadium.

Twin towns and sister cities

Irkutsk is twinned with:[40][41]

Notable people



  1. 1 2 3 Charter of Irkutsk Oblast
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Law #49-OZ
  3. 1 2 3 Law #88-oz
  4. Law #94-oz
  5. 1 2 "Мэр - Официальный портал города Иркутска". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  6. "Федеральная служба государственной статистики Российской Федерации - База данных показателей муниципальных образований". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  7. 1 2 Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1" [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  8. The value of density was calculated automatically by dividing the 2010 Census population by the area specified in the infobox. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox does not necessarily correspond to the area of the entity proper or is reported for the same year as the population.
  9. Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №271-ФЗ от 03 июля 2016 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #271-FZ of July 03, 2016 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
  10. 1 2 Lantzeff, George V., and Richard A. Pierce (1973). Eastward to Empire: Exploration and Conquest on the Russian Open Frontier, to 1750. Montreal eduacadtion: McGill-Queen's U.P.
  11. Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (Russian)
  12. "International Calling Codes - Pg2". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  13. Russian Federal State Statistics Service (May 21, 2004). "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек" [Population of Russia, Its Federal Districts, Federal Subjects, Districts, Urban Localities, Rural Localities—Administrative Centers, and Rural Localities with Population of Over 3,000] (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian). Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  14. Demoscope Weekly (1989). "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров" [All Union Population Census of 1989: Present Population of Union and Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Oblasts and Okrugs, Krais, Oblasts, Districts, Urban Settlements, and Villages Serving as District Administrative Centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года [All-Union Population Census of 1989] (in Russian). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  15. Kennan, George (1891). Siberia and the Exile System. London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. pp. 1–2.
  16. " Climate Data for Irkutsk 1981–2010" (in Russian). Weather and Climate (Погода и климат). Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  17. "Irkutsk Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  18. "Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station History". Irkutskenergo. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  19. John Pike (2002-09-18). "Irkutsk Aviation Industrial Association - Russian Defense Industry". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  20. "Russian Aircraft Industry Seeks Revival Through Merger." The New York Times. February 22, 2006
  21. "Страница не найдена". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  22. "IGTRK - Irkutsk branch of the State Television an Radio Broadcast Company". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  23. "AS Baikal TV". AS Baikal TV. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  24. "TV Company AIST". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  25. Gorod TV
  26. "VSP Newspaper Agency". Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  27. Live webcam in Irkutsk Archived March 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. "Аналитическая служба". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  29. "Irkutsk - Lonely Planet Travel and Information Guide". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  30. В «Тальцах» завершается реконструкция южной стены Илимского острога (Re-creation of the southern wall of the Ilimsk ostrog in the Taltsy Museum is approaching its completion) (Russian)
  31. "Irkutsk: Libertine Legacy by the Lakeside | Beyond Moscow". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  32. "Хоккейный клуб "Байкал-Энергия". Официальный сайт". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  33. baikal-energy bandy on YouTube
  35. "". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  36. "WCS 2012 home page". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  37. emh solutions. "A very well organized World Championship for Women in Irkutsk made a great success". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  38. "XXXIV Champ Of World Bandy". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  39. emh solutions. "Russia world champions". Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  40. (Russian) Sister cities of Irkutsk


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