Oral (Kazakh: ), Uralsk (Russian: ) in Russian, formerly known as Yaitsk (Russian: , until 1775), is a city in northwestern Kazakhstan, at the confluence of the Ural and Chogan Rivers close to the Russian border. As it is located on the western side of the Ural river, it is considered geographically in Europe. It has a population of 350,000. It is the capital of the West Kazakhstan Province. Ethnic composition is dominated by Kazakhs (60%). Oral is an agricultural and industrial center, and has been an important trade stop since its founding. Barge traffic has passed up and down the Ural River between the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains for centuries. Today it is one of the major entry points for rail traffic from Europe to Siberia, servicing the many new oil fields in the Caspian basin and the industrial cities of the southern Urals. It is served by Oral Ak Zhol Airport. Oral, founded in 1613 by Cossacks, was originally named Yaitsk, after the Yaik river, the name of the Ural river at the time. Because the Yaik Cossacks (Ural Cossacks) sided with the insurrectionists during the rebellions of Stenka Razin and Pugachev, Empress Catherine II declared on January 15, 1775 that the Yaik river would henceforth be renamed the Ural River and Yaitsk would be known as Uralsk. The city was captured by Pugachev, and its fortress besieged from December 30, 1773 to April 17, 1774. Czarist troops under Commander Mantsurov took the city after Golytsin had taken the city of Orenburg from the rebel forces.