Kostanay was founded by Russian settlers in 1879 and named Nikolaevsk, in honor of Tsar Nicholas II. In 1888, the town had more than 3,000 inhabitants involved in the building of a mill and a brewery, which are still operational. In 1893, Kostanay was granted city status. The Red Army took control in 1918 and changed the city's name to Kostanay. The Kostanay Region was established in 1936 with its administrative center in Kostanay. In 2009, the city population was 214,916 (2009 Census results).