The Khanty are a small ethnic group of the north of Siberia with a population of 22.5 thousand people in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. The language of Khanty is akin to Hungarian and ancient Baltic and Finnish tongues. All of these languages belong to the Ugric group of the Uralic language family. In other words, Khanty have common ancestors (although quite remote in time) with the people who populate modern Hungary, Finland and some other Baltic countries.

According to the most common point of view, the distant ancestors of all peoples in the Uralic language group had lived in the forested and foreststeppe areas of the Urals and Western Siberia in the 6-5th millennium B.C. With time, many of them resettled, but the Khanty stayed and now live in the basin of the Middle and Lower Ob River with tributaries and the Lower Irtysh River with tributaries.

The name Khanty is derived from the way the people call themselves: “khante” or “kantakh”. Considering that the Khanty are spread across an extensive territory, they are normally categorized into the northern, southern and eastern ethnographic groups. These groups are further divided into smaller units, based on the river where particular people live. The rivers Big Salym and Small Salym have given the name for a large group of Salym Khanty and the land itself.