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(from 1893 to 1895, Nikolaevsk), a city; center of Kustanai Oblast, the Kazakh SSR. Located on the left bank of the Tobol River. Railroad junction for lines to Cheliabinsk, Tobol, and Peski-Tselinnye. Population, 134,000 (1972; 34,000 in 1939).
Founded in 1883, Kustanai was granted the rights of a city in 1893. The railroad line between the city and Cheliabinsk was completed in 1912–13. On Dec. 25, 1917 (Jan. 7, 1918), Soviet power was established in Kustanai. Later, the city was captured by the White Guards. It was liberated by the Red Army on Aug. 19, 1919.
The industry of prerevolutionary Kustanai included small-scale, semihandicrafts enterprises that processed agricultural raw materials. In addition, there were several small plants (leather goods plants, breweries, and vegetable oil mills). Every year, two or three fairs were held in the city. During the period of socialist construction Kustanai was transformed into an industrial and cultural center. Its rapid growth was connected with the cultivation of the virgin lands in northern Kazakhstan in 1954, as well as with the development of a new industrial region as a result of large-scale railroad construction and the exploitation of major deposits of minerals in the Turgai Basin.
The city’s main industries are food processing (meatpacking and milling combines, as well as other enterprises) and light industry (a worsted-cloth combine and garment and foot-wear factories). There is also a synthetic fibers plant. Located in the city are metalworking enterprises for the repair of motor vehicles and farm machinery and the production of spare parts and building materials enterprises that produce reinforced-concrete structures, concrete blocks, and bricks.
Kustanai has a pedagogical institute, a branch of the Tselinograd Agricultural Institute, and technicums specializing in construction, mechanical engineering, industrial teacher training, automotive transportation, agriculture, and cooperatives. There are also pedagogical and medical schools. The city has a drama theater, a museum of local lore, and a philharmonic society.