Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug

(redirected from Khantia-Mansia Autonomous District)
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug


(until 1940, Ostiak-Vogul National Okrug; from 1940 to 1977, Khanty-Mansi National Okrug), part of Tiumen’ Oblast, RSFSR. Formed Dec. 10, 1930. Located on the central part of the Western Siberian Lowland. Area, 523,100 sq km. Population, 460,000 (1977). Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug is divided into seven raions and has five cities and 17 urban-type settlements. The administrative center is the city of Khanty-Mansiisk.

Natural features. The okrug is a mixture of lowlands, such as the Central Ob’ and Konda lowlands, and uplands, such as the Siberian Uvaly (elevations to 285 m), the Severnaia Sos’va Upland (elevations to 301 m), and the Belogorsk “Mainland” (elevations to 231 m). In the extreme west is a narrow belt of the eastern slopes of the Northern and Polar Urals.

The climate is continental. Winters are long and severe, with a mean January temperature that ranges from –20°C to –22°C; summers are short but warm, with a mean July temperature that ranges from 16°C to 18°C. The mean annual temperature ranges from –1°C to –3°C. Annual precipitation is 400–500 mm, with maximum precipitation (75 percent) occurring in the summer. Permafrost is widespread in the north. The growing season ranges from 115 to 125 days.

The principal river is the Ob’, which flows within the okrug for a distance of 1,218 km through a valley that is up to 55 km wide. The other important rivers are tributaries of the Ob’; examples are such left tributaries as the Bol’shoi Iugan, Bol’shoi Salym, Irtysh (including its tributary the Konda), and Severnaia Sos’va and such right tributaries as the Vakh, Agan, Pirn. Nazym, and Kazym. The more than 1,500 lakes form lake systems, the largest of which are Tursuntskii Turnan, Leushinskii Turnan, Vandmtor, and Untor.

Peat soils and podzols predominate; alluvial soils are found in the floodplains of rivers and along the lakeshores. More than one-third of the okrug is covered by forests, which contain timber reserves of 2.5 billion cu m. Coniferous trees—pine, spruce, and cedar—make up 85 percent of the forests. In the far north the taiga gives way to tundra with sparse forests of spruce and larch.

Fauna is represented by approximately 50 species of mammals, including more than 20 species of economically useful animals, such as the squirrel, sable, Siberian weasel, fox, blue hare, ermine, and marten. The muskrat, New World mink, and Barguzin sable have been acclimatized. The approximately 200 species of birds include many waterfowl and such economically useful birds as the hazel hen, grouse, capercaillie, and willow ptarmigan. The rivers and lakes abound in fish, including salmon, whitefish, and sturgeon, that are commercially valuable. The Konda-Sos’va Beaver and Sable Preserve is located in the okrug.


Population. According to the 1970 census, Khanty constitute 4.5 percent of the population, Mansi 2.5 percent, Russians 76.9 percent, Tatars 5.2 percent, Ukrainians 3.7 percent, and Komi 1.1 percent. As of Jan. 1, 1976, the average population density was 0.8 person per sq km; the most densely populated areas are the Ob’ and Irtysh river valleys. The urban population makes up 74 percent of the total. The okrug’s five cities are Surgut, Nizhnevartovsk, Nefteiugansk, Khanty-Mansiisk, and Urai.

Historial survey. The Khanty and Mansi emerged as an ethnic community late in the first millennium B.C. and in the first millennium A.D. The Khanty, referred to as Iugry, are first mentioned in written sources in the 11th century. From the 14th century the Khanty were called Ostyaks, and the Mansi were called Voguls. In the second half of the 12th century Iugra Land, where most of the Khanty and Mansi lived, became a volost (territorial division) of Novgorod Land. The population, which engaged chiefly in hunting and fishing, paid a tribute of furs to Novgorod.

After Novgorod was incorporated into the Muscovite state in 1478, the Muscovite prince tightened his administrative control over Iugra Land. When Ermak defeated the Siberian khan Ku-chum in 1582, some of the Khanty and Mansi living in the Irtysh region voluntarily placed themselves under the protection of the tsar of Moscow and agreed to pay a iasak (tribute). By this time, the primitive communal system of the Khanty and Mansi was disintegrating. In 1584 the first Russian ostrog (fortified settlement), Obskii Gorodok, was built at the mouth of the Irtysh. In 1593, Surgut was founded; it was followed by Pelym and Berezovo. As Russian promyshlenniki (private traders and hunters) and slu-zhilye liudi (military servitors) settled the outlying lands, the Vogul and Ostyak volosts became parts of newly organized districts, such as Tobol’sk and Berezovo. The Russian voevody (military governors) relied on tribal leaders in carrying out tsarist colonial policies.

The seizure of the most desirable lands of the Khanty and Mansi by Russian merchants and rich peasants intensified in the late 17th century. Christianity was propagated but was only slowly accepted. The local population was nomadic and engaged in fishing, hunting, and reindeer raising; the inhabitants of the southern region raised other livestock as well. The majority of the Khanty and Mansi led a difficult existence: cruelly exploited by tribal leaders and tsarist officials, they suffered from disease and epidemics. As capitalist relations developed in the last half of the 19th and in the early 20th century, and as the Khanty and Mansi made a partial transition from a natural, closed patriarchal economy to commodity-money relations, the primitive communal system rapidly disintegrated, and the working masses faced ruin and poverty.

After the October Revolution of 1917, White Guards seized power in the summer of 1918; they were finally driven out in mid-1921. With the establishment of Soviet power, ethnic oppression ended, and the Khanty and Mansi were granted the same political rights as other peoples. In 1923 the Tobol’sk Administrative Okrug was created in Ural’sk Oblast; it included the raions inhabited by the Khanty and Mansi: Konda, Samarovo, Surgut, Berezovo, and Obdorsk. By a decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee dated Dec. 10, 1930, the Ostiak-Vogul National Okrug was established; it became the Khanty-Mansi National Okrug in 1940 and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in 1977.

The Committee of the North, under the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, played an important role in the development of the okrug. The construction of new settlements helped the Khanty and Mansi make the transition to a settled way of life. The old occupations—hunting, fishing, and reindeer raising—underwent development, and new occupations were created, including animal husbandry, land cultivation, and fur farming. Industrialization, the collectivization of agriculture (carried out between 1929 and 1936), and the cultural revolution eliminated economic and cultural backwardness, brought forth working-class cadres, and engendered a national intelligentsia.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the Khanty and Mansi fought in the Soviet Army against the fascist German invaders, and nine persons were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. The discovery in 1960 of petroleum and natural-gas reserves in the okrug has led to a radical reorganization of the regional economy. The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1970 and the Order of Friendship of Peoples in 1972.


Economy. In addition to trapping and fur farming, the okrug’s leading industries are the petroleum, lumber, natural-gas, fishing, and electric power industries. Petroleum, natural gas and petroleum by-product gas are extracted; the principal petroleum deposits are Samotlor, Ust’-Balyk, and Mamontovo. Two natural gas refineries have been constructed at Nizhnevartovsk. The Surgut State Regional Electric Power Plant operates on petroleum by-product gas.

The lumber and wood-products industries are represented by logging, which produced 9.6 million cu m of commercial timber in 1975, and the production of lumber and crossties. The Konda Logging and Timber Distribution Combine, the largest in Western Siberia, is located in the okrug. In 1977 a sawmilling and wood-products combine was under construction in the settlement of Sovetskii. There are three fish-processing combines (Khanty-Mansiisk, Surgut, and Berezovo) and three fish-processing plants. The okrug is a major supplier of such furs as silver fox, blue arctic fox, and mink; fur farms account for a considerable portion of fur production. Prefabricated-housing combines are located in Surgut and Urai, and the okrug produces bricks and reinforced concrete.

Reindeer raising is an important industry; most of the 55,800 reindeer are in Berezovo Raion. In 1975 the okrug had 12 kolkhozes and 17 sovkhozes. The sown area totals 7,200 hectares (1976), with feed crops occupying 59.2 percent, potatoes 37.3 percent, and other vegetables 3.5 percent. There are hothouse farms. In 1976 the livestock population included 47,900 head of cattle (including 20,200 cows), 8,600 swine, 7,900 horses, and 3,500 sheep. The Khanty-Mansi Agricultural Experiment Station began operating in 1933.

The okrug’s waterways have a total length of 8,100 km (1974); the Ob’, the Irtysh, and their principal tributaries are navigable. The first railroad lines, built in the 1960’s, connected Ivdel’ with Ob’, and Tavda with Mezhdurechenskii. In 1976 construction was completed on the Tiumen’-Surgut-Nizhnevartovsk railroad and a large railroad bridge across the Ob’. In 1977 construction was under way on a rail line from Surgut to Urengoi that will make it possible to develop the natural gas above the arctic circle and to exploit new tracts of forest. Airports are located at, for example, Surgut, Nizhnevartovsk, Nefteiugansk, Berezovo, and Khanty-Minsiinsk.

The okrug has a network of petroleum pipelines: Shaim-Tiumen’. Ust’-Balyk-Omsk, Samotlor-Kurgan-Ufa-AI’met’evsk, and Nizhnevartovsk-Kuibyshev. Natural-gas pipelines connect the northern areas of Tiumen’ Oblast with Central Russia and link the cities of Punga, Vuktyl, and Ukhta. The main petroleum pipelines run for a distance of 1,400 km, and the main natural-gas pipelines run for a distance of 2,000 km. Under construction in 1977 were a petroleum pipeline (Samotlor-Nizhnevartovsk-Kuibyshev) and natural gas pipelines (Punga-Vuktyl-Ukhta, Nizhnevartovsk-Kuznetsk Coal Basin, and Komsomol’skii gas field-Tiumen’-Cheliabinsk); the petroleum pipeline and the first gas pipeline mentioned are in the second phase of construction.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The Sos’va and Konda areas of the Ob’ River region are major producers of timber and natural gas. The Konda and Irtysh areas of the Ob’ region are important for their petroleum, timber, and fish; a group of oil fields at Shaim are being developed. The central Ob’ region is one of Western Siberia’s principal centers of petroleum extraction, which is carried on primarily at Samotlor.


Education and cultural affairs. In the 1914–15 academic year, the okrug had 35 primary schools, with a total of 600 pupils; there were no secondary educational institutions. In the 1976–77 academic year there were 238 general-education schools, with 87,700 students; three vocational-technical schools, with 1,200 students; and four specialized secondary educational institutions, with 2,600 students. In 1975, 29,000 children attended 285 preschool institutions. In the same year there were 186 public libraries, with a total of 2 million copies of books and periodicals. The okrug has a museum of local lore, a house of people’s arts (Khanty-Mansi-isk), 226 clubs, 20 children’s music schools, 264 motion picture projection units, and 16 extracurricular institutions.

Two okrug newspapers are published: Lenin pant khuvat (On the Leninist Path; since 1957, in Khanty) and Leninskaia pravda (since 1931). In addition to two programs of All-Union Radio, which are broadcast for 19 hours daily, there are oblast and okrug broadcasts for 3 hours daily. Television broadcasts of the East program and the Orbita and Ekran systems reach approximately 90 percent of the population.


Zapadnaia Sibir’. (AN SSSR: Prirodnye usloviia i estestvennye resursy SSSR.) Moscow, 1963.
Rossiiskaia Federatsiia: Zapadnaia Sibir’. Moscow, 1971. (In the series Sovetskii Soiuz.)
Tiumenskaia oblast’ v 10 piatiletke. Tiumen’, 1976.
Narody Sibiri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956. Pages 570–607.
Istoriia Sibiri s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vol. 4. Leningrad, 1968.
Tarasenkov, G. N. Na prostorakh Ob’-Irtysh’ia. [Sverdlovsk] 1964.
Budarin, M. E. Put’ malykh narodov Krainego Severa k kommunizmu. Omsk, 1968.
Obnovlennaia lugra. Sverdlovsk, 1970.
Kiselev, L. E. Ot patriarkhal’ shchiny k sotsializmu. Sverdlovsk, 1974.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.