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Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area

Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area (khŭntē´-mŭnsē´), administrative division (1995 pop. 1,326,200), 201,969 sq mi (523,100 sq km), W Siberian Russia. Khanty-Mansisk is the capital. The region, mostly forest and swamp with numerous lakes and peat bogs, is drained by the lower Irtysh and the Ob rivers, which are also important transportation arteries. It has seen spectacular population growth since 1970, mostly due to expansion of natural gas exploitation; the largest concentrations of people are in the Ob and Irtysh valleys. Lumbering, fishing, fur farming and trading, and reindeer breeding are the area's chief occupations. Some grain and vegetables are grown in the south, and fish processing is carried on. Oil and natural gas production is increasingly important, notably at Berezovo, Surgut, and Nizhnevartovsk, where large natural gas fields have been developed. Lumbering is hampered by the area's great distance from markets. Russians comprise two thirds of the area's population, and there are small minorities of Khanty (Ostyaks) and Mansi (Voguls), both of whom belong to the Finno-Ugric linguistic family. Some Komi and Nenets also inhabit the region. The Khanty, who were under the control of the Siberian Tatars, opposed Russian conquest and rule from the 16th through the 18th cent. The Mansi have been in the area since the 11th cent.; they, too, resisted Muscovite domination. The area, formed in 1930, was known until 1940 as the Ostyak-Vogul National Area. In 1977 it was made an autonomous area.

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