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Irtysh River facts for kids

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Irtysh River
Irtysh River watershed
Country Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia
Physical characteristics
Main source Altay Mountains
River mouth Ob River
Length 4,248 km (2,640 mi)
Basin features
Basin size 1,643,000 km2 (634,000 sq mi)

The Irtysh River is a river in Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. It is the chief tributary of the Ob River. The river's source lies in the Mongolian Altai in Dzungaria (the northern part of Xinjiang, China) close to the border with Mongolia.

The Irtysh's main tributaries include the Tobol River, Demyanka River and the Ishim River. The Ob-Irtysh system forms a major drainage basin in Asia, encompassing most of Western Siberia and the Altai Mountains.

Economic use

In Kazakhstan and Russia, tankers, passenger and freight boats navigate the river during the ice-free season, between April and October. Omsk, home to the headquarters of the state-owned Irtysh River Shipping Company, functions as the largest river port in Western Siberia.

On the Kazakhstan section of the river there are presently three major hydroelectric plants. The world's deepest lock, with a drop of 42 metres (138 ft), allows river traffic to by-pass the dam at Ust-Kamenogorsk. Plans exist for the construction of several more dams.


Seven railway bridges span the Irtysh. They are located in the following cities:

  • About 15 km downstream from Serebryansk (on the dead-end branch line from Oskemen to Zyryanovsk)
  • Oskemen
  • Semey, on the Turkestan–Siberia Railway
  • Pavlodar, on the South Siberian rail line (Astana to Barnaul)
  • near Cherlak, on the Middle Siberian rail line (Среднесибирская магистраль)
  • Omsk, on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Opened in 1896, this is the oldest bridge on the river.
  • Tobolsk, on the Tyumen-Surgut line

As the Kuytun–Beitun Railway in China's Xinjiang is being extended toward Altay City, a railway bridge over the Irtysh at Beitun will need to be constructed as well.

Numerous highway bridges over the Irtysh exist in China, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

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