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Irkutsk (Russian: Ирку́тск) is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast in Russia and one of the largest cities in Siberia. Irkutsk is situated amid a landscape of rolling hills within the thick taiga which is typical of eastern Siberia. The city proper lies at the Angara River, a tributary of the Yenisei, 72 kilometers or 45 miles below its outflow from Lake Baikal, and on the bank opposite the suburb of Glaskovsk. The river, which is 580 meters or 1,900 feet 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 which joins the Angara River directly opposite the city. The main portion of the city is separated from several landmarks including the monastery, the fort, the port as well as its suburbs by another tributary, the Ida - also known as the Ushakovka River. Additionally, 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 has a borderline subarctic climate just short of a humid continental climate characterized by extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. Temperatures can be very warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter. However, Lake Baikal has an effect so that temperatures in Irkutsk are not as extreme as they are elsewhere in Siberia. The warmest month of the year in Irkutsk is July when the mean temperature is around 18 °C or 64 °F. The highest temperature ever recorded was 37 °C or 99 °F. The coldest month of the year is January when the mean temperature is −19 °C or −2 °F. Precipitation also varies widely throughout the year, with the wettest month also being July, when precipitation averages 119 mm or 4.70 inches. The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 mm or .30 inches. Almost all precipitation during the Siberian winter falls as fluffy, low moisture laden snow.
Important roads and railways like the Trans-Siberian Highway - Federal M53 and M55 Highways and the Trans-Siberian Railway connect Irkutsk to other regions in Russia and Mongolia. Also, the city is 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 downtown Irkutsk. Irkutsk has long been 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 are included in Rasputin's non-fiction collection, Siberia. Siberia is also available in English translations for English speaking readers.