Irkutsk Oblast

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Irkutsk Oblast (Russian: Ирку́тская о́бласть, Irkutskaya oblast) is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast), located in south-eastern Siberia in the basins of Angara River, Lena, and Nizhnyaya Tunguska Rivers. The administrative center is Irkutsk.



By the end of the seventeenth century Irkutsk was a small town, the monasteries were being built, the suburbs and agricultural settlements were being formed.

Since the eighteenth century in Irkutsk the trades and crafts began to develop, the golden and silver craftsmen, smiths appeared. In relation with the expansion of Russian state to the East from Irkutsk, the city became a capital of enormous territories from the Enisey to the Pacific, it played an important role in the exploration and securing vast Eastern-Siberian and Far-Eastern territories to Russia. Gradually Irkutsk gained more meaning as the main transportation and trade center of Eastern Siberia, it became a center of trade routes from Kamchatka, Chukotka to Yakutia, Mongolia, and China. The administrative meaning of the city increased: it became a center of one fifth of the provinces of Siberia; in 1764 it became a center of independent province.

The eighteenth century, in the history of Irkutsk, was a century of the research expeditions. In Irkutsk first and second expeditions of Vitus Bering to the shores of Kamchatka were organized.

The merchant class formed in a city. In the second half of the eighteenth century Irkutsk industrial and merchant companies of Golikov, Trapeznikov, Bechevin, Milinikov, Sibirakov began to explore the Aleutian Islands and later Alaska. In 1799 the merchant companies were united in Russian- American company “for the trades on the territory of the Aleutian and Kuril islands and the rest part of North-Eastern sea, belonging to Russia by the right of discovery.” Grigorii Ivanovich Shelikhov, an outstanding seafarer, played an important role in mastering enormous spaces of northern part of Pacific ocean. He founded first colonies of Russian America.

In 1727 the Irkutsk Eparchy was founded.

During the eighteenth century educational school, professional-technical education, science, museums, library, theater, book-printing were developed in Irkutsk. Educational and cultural organizations were opened. In 1725 first school in Eastern Siberia, attached to Voznesenskii monastery, was opened, in 1754 – sea (navigation) school and secondary schools were opened. The 1780s were marked by the opening of the second public library among province towns in Russia, regional museum and an amateur theater. In Irkutsk outstanding representatives appeared, still remembered by the people. These were an architect, geographer, historian A.I.Losev, a writer I.T.Kalashnikov, a teacher S.S.Schukin. Siberian science was created. A.G.Laxman, Lomonosov’s apprentice, one of the first Siberian mineralogist, worked in Irkutsk.

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