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City (pop., 2006 est.: 578,073), east-central Russia. Located on the Angara River, it was founded as a wintering camp in 1652. It soon became a commercial centre for the fur trade and a base on the Russian trade route to China and Mongolia. Its importance grew after the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1898. An industrial and cultural centre, it is the seat of Irkutsk State University and the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Irkutsk, visit Britannica.com.