a city, the center of Gur’ev Oblast, Kazakh SSR. Located on the north shore of the Caspian Sea and along both banks of the mouth of the Ural River. It is a river port. Rail lines connect it with Oktiabr’sk in Aktiubinsk Oblast and with Astrakhan. Population, 114,000 (1971; 9,300 in 1897; 11,900 in 1926; 41,000 in 1939).
The city was founded in 1640 by a merchant family, the Gur’evs, who built a wooden fort there. In order to defend the trade routes on the Caspian Sea from the Yaik River Cossacks, the Gur’evs, by order of the government, built a stone fortress in 1647–62, which was defended by the strel’tsy (semiprofessional musketeers). In 1667–68, Gur’ev was occupied by S. T. Razin. In 1810 the fortress was disarmed, and in 1865, Gur’ev became a district center. Its main economic activity was fishing. Soviet power was established there in late February 1918 and finally consolidated in July 1919.
Under Soviet rule Gur’ev has become a major center of the petroleum and chemical industries. A pipeline from Gur’ev to Orsk was built in 1935, and the Uzen’-Kuibyshev pipeline passes through Gur’ev. The city has oil refineries, chemical plants for polymer plastics, machine-building plants, ship-repair facilities, a fish cannery (at the settlement of Balykshi), a building-materials combine, and a meat-packing plant. Educational and cultural facilities in the city include a pedagogic institute, a polytechnic school, a technicum for the fishing industry (Balykshi), an agricultural technicum, a medical school, a school of music, a museum of local lore, and a drama theater.
The old city is located on the right bank of the Ural River; the settlements for the oil refinery and chemical plants, and the settlement of Novostroika are on the left bank. The suburban settlement of Balykshi is located south of the city.