Pavlodar is a city in northeastern Kazakhstan and the capital of Pavlodar Province. It is located 450 km northeast of the national capital Astana, and 405 km southeast of the Russian city of Omsk along the Irtysh River. The population (around 350,000) of Pavlodar is composed predominantly of ethnic Russians and Kazakhs with significant Ukrainian, German and Tatar minorities. The city is served by Pavlodar Airport.
One of the oldest cities in northern Kazakhstan, Pavlodar was founded in 1720 as Koryakovsky, an Imperial Russian outpost. The settlement was created to establish control over the region's salt lakes, an important source of valuable salt. In 1861 the settlement was renamed Pavlodar and incorporated as a town. Pavlodar's significance was due in large measure to the substantial agricultural and salt-producing industries that had developed there despite the town's relatively small population. Pavlodar's population numbered only about 8,000 in 1897. The name Pavlodar signifies The Gift of Paul, and was chosen to commemorate the birth of the Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia.
After 1955, the Soviet Government's Virgin Lands Campaign provided the impetus for the rapid growth and development of modern Pavlodar. As part of the program, large numbers of young men and women from throughout the Soviet Union settled in the city, rapid industrial and commercial expansion followed. From the mid-1960s on, Pavlodar grew to become a major industrial centre of both the Kazakh SSR and of the Soviet Union; the largest local industries are the manufacture of farm machinery, aluminum, and industrial chemicals; an oil refinery was completed in 1978. Because of a major arms and armour manufacturing facility located in the city, Pavlodar was closed to foreigners until 1992.