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Irkutsk
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Irkutsk

November 20, 2005

The city of Irkutsk, deep in the heart of the Asian portion of the Russian Federation, is shown in this image. The city is located just North of Lake Baikal, which stretches from the top right to about the center of the image.

The boundary (marked with a thick black line) separates the Irkutsk Oblast, an administrative subdivision of Russia, from the country of Mongolia. Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in Asia and the deepest lake on the globe, measuring over 600 kilometers (390 miles) long, 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide, and 1.6 kilometers (0.9 miles) deep; it is also one of the oldest, dated at 25-30 million years old.

The lake has abundant wildlife, with over a thousand species each of plants and animals. However, in the late 1990's, animals began dying there in alarming numbers.

According to National Geographic, industrial pollution was identified as the chief culprit. In 1997, the Russian Federation responded, passing landmark legislation protecting the lake.

In recognition of the fact that industrial activities in the areas surrounding the lake can be harmful, the law calls for the creation of three zones: Central, Buffer, and Atmospheric Influence. Regulations are the most restrictive in the Central zone, where the lake is located and less restrictive away from the center.



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