by Galina Zhdan
Irkutsk Oblast is 767.9 thousand square kilometers (296.5 thousands square ml) in area, including Ust-Ordyn Buryat autonomous district. It includes the southern part of Eastern Siberia. The main trunks of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railroad lines cross the Oblast. The Angara and Lena rivers also serve as channels of transportation. Lake Baikal is located on the south-eastern border of the Oblast.
The Oblast has a variety and abundance of natural resources, including rich water-power resources of the Angara river, deposits of rock and potassium salt, ore, and rare metals, coal reserves, and promising deposits of gas and oil, which have been recently documented. By January 1996 the Oblast's population stood at 2,795,000, 79.5 percent of whom lived in 22 cities and towns of the Oblast.
More than a quarter of Oblast industrial production occurs in the fuel sector, other in timber, timber processing, and pulp and paper industries, in non-ferrous metallurgy, and in electric power production. The volume of the 1995 gross Oblast product is more than the Oblast consumes, so Irkutsk Oblast enjoys a positive trade balance in the Russian economy.
Since the end of the 1980s, the Oblast has rapidly raised its
industrial productions export tendencies, (mainly production in
non-ferrous metallurgy, pulp and paper industry, oil processing
and chemical sectors). Major consumers of Oblast export production
are the countries of the Pacific region. Presently more than twenty
commercial banks operate in the Oblast. The per capita average
monthly income was 10 percent higher than in Russia as a whole.