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 means The Gift of Paul, and was chosen to commemorate the birth of the Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia.
The largest local industries are aluminum, industrial chemicals, and farm machinery. An oil refinery was completed in 1978. In 2012 Polish rolling stock manufacturer Pesa Bydgoszcz announced its intentions to build a tram assembly plant in Pavlodar in conjunction with the city's plans to buy up to 100 new trams from the manufacturer to shore up its aging public transport infrastructure.
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