Irkutskaya Oblast is situated in the southern part of Eastern Siberia. In the south and southeast it borders upon the Republic of Buryatia, in the southwest - upon the Republic of Tyva, in the west and northwest - upon Krasnoyarsky krai, to the north, northeast and east lie the Republic of Saha (YakutiaYakutia) and Chitinskaya Oblast. The oblast involves Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug. The main rivers here are the rivers of the basin of Yenisei (Angara, Lower Tunguska) and Lena (Vitim, Kirenga). There is the lake of Baikal in Irkutskaya Oblast.
The climate is continental. The average temperatures of January vary from 15 in the south to 33 degrees centigrade below zero in the north; the average temperatures of July vary from +17 to +19 degrees. Precipitations are about 400 mm per year in the north and in mountains. Here the permafrost area occurs.
Irkutskaya Oblast was formed on September 26, 1937. Its area is 745.5 thousand sq. km (not including Ust-Ordynsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug). The centre of the region is Irkutsk founded in the year of 1686. The distance to Moscow is 5042 km. The population of the city is 639 thousand inhabitants (1994). The city comprises 5 districts: Kirovsky, Kuibyshevsky, Leninsky, Oktyabrsky, Sverdlovsky.
Irkutskaya Oblast was formed in 1937 as a result of disintegration of East-Siberian Oblast. Before 1764 there existed the Irkutsk province. Irkutsk was a residence of the governor-general of Siberia (since 1803) and Eastern Siberia (since 1822). Earlier, in XVIII century, Irkutsk played a role of the main advanced post of Russia in the east, the centre of diplomatic, commercial and industrial ties of Russia with Asia and America.
At the close of XIX century the Trans-Siberian Railway gave a new impulse to development of the territory that earlier served as an exile place (Decembrists served their term here). The railway brought the region and the centre of Russia together. In XX century evacuation of industrial enterprises from the European part of the country during the Great Patriotic War also contributed to development of the region. Construction of the hydroelectric power stations in 50-60-es called into being the cities of Bratsk and Ust-Ilimsk.
Irkutskaya Oblast is vast and rich. There are minerals, hydroenergetics and manufacture of aluminium and woodworking, the enormous building complex. Irkutskaya Oblast is one of the highly industrialized regions of Russia.
But most of all citizens of Irkutsk are proud of the cultural level. Since olden times Irkutsk was a cultural capital of Siberia, and many well-known people of the country left their traces in the Irkutsk province. Bishop Avvakum and prelate Innokenty (Kulchitsky), Alexander Radishev and Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Anton Chekhov and Benedikt Dybovsky are just few to mention. Here on the banks of Baikal, Angara and Lena lots of talented people, who became famous not only in Russia but abroad, were born. Memory of their deeds is kept in museums of the region.
Today in these hard times for culture a network of museums continues to develop. In 90-es new museums, showrooms and picture galleries in Irkutsk, Angarsk, Shelekhov, Tulun, Nizhneudinsk, Bratsk, Ust-Ilimsk, Elantsy, Magistralny, Ust-Kut, Zalari, Sayansk, Khuzhir, Ust-Ud and other settlements appeared.