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The traditional areas of the Khant are in the river valleys of the middle and lower Ob and the Irtysh rivers. Administratively, their homeland is in the Khanty-Mansiyskiy Autonomous Okrug (where more than half live); Yamalo-Nenetskiy Autonomous Okrug and the Tomskaya Oblast. In 2002 they numbered 28773.

Although they are one of the most populous indigenous peoples in Russia, there has been extensive oil, gas and infrastructure development in their region along with in-migration of Russians and Tarters in their traditional southerly areas. As a result, the Khanty have come under pressure.

Traditionally,many Khanty were nomadic and semi nomadic reindeer herders in the forest tundra and taiga regions. In the forest tundra, herds were smaller and camps were seasonal. In the taiga regions, Khanty herders were more sedentary, migrating only in the summer.

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