The Irkutsk Region was founded in 1937. The Region area is 767,900 sq. km., the population is 2505 thousand people, among them 88% live in cities. The Region is located in UTC +8 time zone. The time difference between the Moscow time and the time zone is +5 hours.
The administrative center– is the city of Irkutsk (4300 km from Moscow).
The Region relief — is highland, from 500 to 1000 m. height above sea level. The main rivers are — the Lena, the Angara and the Lower Tunguska.
The climate is strongly continental with high temperature ratio (daily temperature difference may reach 30 degrees), average temperature varies depending on the Region area, average temperature in January is from —15 to —30, in July — from +17 to +19.
The Vitimskiy State Nature Reserve founded in 1982 is located in the territory of the Irkutsk Region. It is famous by its biological diversity — 422 species of lichens, 35 species of mammals and 228 species of birds. The reserve is located between two mountain chains, Meyskiy and Delun-Uluyskiy ranges. Ecological paths are laid down in the reserve territory. Lectures and summer children's camping are carried out here. This is the place for annual «Parks march» celebration.
Another park — the Baikalo-Lenskiy State Nature Refuge was founded in 1986. The main objective of the refuge — is the Baikal Mountains unique ecosystems protection. The refuge area is 659,9 thousand ha. The territory is located in a high seismicity zone. Mountain massifs incorporate volcanoes of Precambrian formation. The riverhead of the Lena River is located in the territory of the refuge. The main vegetation of the refuge — is the taiga one distinctly divided by altitudinal belts including very rare species, relic and endemic forms. The animal world symbol of the Baikalo-Lenskiy State Nature Refuge is brown bear. The refuge is also a dwelling place for reindeer, red deer, Siberian roedeer etc. The refuge incorporates an active museum with three ecological paths: through the reserved bank, rafting in the Lena River, and a route to the headstream of the Lena River.
One of the most unusual museums of the Irkutsk Region — is a complex museum the Krugobaikalskaya railway. A large engineering complex was founded in the years 1902-1905 on the bank of the Baikal Lake in the area 100 km long. In consists of 58 tunnels and galleries, over 500 bridges and viaducts, about 600 retaining bank protection walls which supplement 172 monuments of architecture.
Each year a lot of tourists take a train to drive through bridges and tunnels of the Krugobaikalskaya railway.
Irkutsk is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of Siberia. Ancient buildings remained in the center of the city: merchant Sibiryakov’s house with a monument to Alexander III opposite to it, governor general residence, Trapeznikov’s house and other ancient buildings. Other survived buildings are: Spasskaya church, Bogoyavlensky Cathedral, Krestovozdvizhenskaya church, Polish church, synagogue and Tatar mosque.
The Regional museum opened in Irkutsk in 1782 is still functional. It includes an exposition revealing the city history from the earliest times: ethnographic, geologic and historic collection.
Irkutsk features opportunities for ski mountaineering. Angara Park, ski bases Ershi and Olkha keep tracks equipped with artificial snow generation system and ski-lifts.
The Taltsy Architectural Ethnographic museum is located not far from Irkutsk. It is one of the country best museums in the open air. The territory of 70 hectares comprises over 80 architecture monuments of defensive, cultic and civilian architectonics of the Irkutsk Region peoples of 17 — 20-th centuries as well as ethnographic collections of X — XX centuries representing material and spiritual culture of the Russians, Buryats, Tungus and Tofa. The most valuable and unique collections are: wooden architectonics monuments of XVII-XVIII centuries; items collection from Siberian jails diggings (Irkutsk, Albazin); homespun cloth of Ukrainian and Belorussian migrants to Siberia. Summer ethnographic camps are available in the museum.
The Irkutsk Region traditionally welcomes «Zvezdy na Baikale» festival of classic music with participation of the best Russian musicians.
For more detailed information on the Region, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.