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.
After 1955, the Soviet Government's Virgin Lands Campaign provided the impetus for the rapid growth and development of modern Pavlodar. Under the program, large numbers of young men and women from throughout the Soviet Union were relocated to the city; industrial and commercial activity was increased; and from the mid-1960s on, Pavlodar grew to become a major industrial centre of both the Kazakh SSR and of the Soviet Union. Because of a major arms and armour manufacturing facility located in the city.
Pavlodar has a temperate continental climate with long, cold winters and hot summers. The average temperature in January is −15.8 °C (4 °F) with absolute observed lows reaching −45 °C (−49 °F) to −47 °C (−53 °F). In July the temperature averages 21.5 °C (71 °F). Yearly precipitation amounts to 303 mm (12 in).
The city's population is 331,119 (as of January 1, 2012), and the extended urbanized area has 342,321 inhabitants.
Ethnic groups are as follows (as of January 1, 2010):Kazakhs — 159 835 (44.54%)
Russians — 156 567 (43.63%)
Ukrainians — 22 184 (6.69%)
Germans — 9 058 (2.73%)
Tatars — 7 752 (2.34%)
Belarusians — 2 852 (0.86%)
Ingushetians — 1 279 (0.39%)
Moldovans — 954 (0.29%)
Azeris — 802 (0.24%)
Chechens — 800 (0.24%)
Koreans — 594 (0.18%)
Polish — 574 (0.17%)
Bulgarians — 475 (0.15%)
Chuvash — 425 (0.14%)
Bashkirs — 415 (0.13%)
Others — 5 470 (1.65%)
Total — 331 710 (100.00%)
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.
FC Irtysh is a Kazakh football club based at the Tsentralny Stadium in Pavlodar. Another notable club formerly based in Pavlodar, FC Energetik, has since relocated to Ekibastuz.
The Chess Federation of Pavlodar organizes frequent citywide competitions such as «Pavlodar Open 2007» and «The Pavlodar Regional Cup», a fast chess competition. Several FIDE masters, and grandmasters including Rinat Zhumabayev, Pavel Kotsur, Yuri Nikitin Vladimir Grebenshikov, and Yelena Ankudinova, participate regularly in the events.
Ice hockey team Irtysh play in Astana Ice Palace (capacity 2, 800). Pavlodar hockey players were the champions of Kazakhstan three times in the row in the seasons 2012/2013, 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.
Pavlodar has an 86 km streetcar (tram) network, which began service in 1965 with, as of 2012, 20 regular and 3 special routes. The network has a 60% share of the local public transport market. However its fleet of 115 trams is due to be replaced by 100 new trams produced locally by Polish manufacturer PESA SA. In addition, Pavlodar has bus and minibus (marshrutka) service.
Several universities are located in Pavlodar, among them:Pavlodar State University (named after S. Toraigyrov)
Pavlodar State Pedagogical Institute