It was founded in 1930 as a work settlement of Ostyako-Vogulsk (Остяко-Вогульск) after the obsolete names of Ostyaks and Voguls for the Khanty and Mansi peoples. In 1940, it was renamed Khanty-Mansiysk, and it was granted town status in 1950, merging with the village of Samarovo, known since the 16th century, along the way.
Khanty-Mansiysk is the administrative center of the autonomous okrug and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Khanty-Mansiysky District, even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the town of okrug significance of Khanty-Mansiysk—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the town of okrug significance of Khanty-Mansiysk is incorporated as Khanty-Mansiysk Urban Okrug.
Today Khanty-Mansiysk is a flourishing town, which in recent years has received considerable foreign investment. For example, in 2007, the English architect Norman Foster signed an agreement to build a 280-meter (920 ft) high skyscraper in an attractive part of the town. When it is built, the Crystal Skyscraper will be one of the tallest buildings in Russia. Besides this, the Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat is planning to build a business complex in the town center.
Air travel is available at the Khanty-Mansiysk Airport, located just outside Khanty-Mansiysk inner city. The airline UTair Aviation has its head office on the property.
A bridge crossing the Irtysh River was opened in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2004. The bridge consists of fourteen spans and has a total length of 1,315.9 meters (4,317 ft). Its main span is 231-meter (758 ft) long.
Khanty-Mansiysk is connected to the main road network by two roads, one from the west from Perm and Yekaterinburg, and one from the south from Tyumen. There is also a road from the east from Surgut.
Khanty-Mansiysk experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc). The climate is extreme, with temperatures as low as −62 °C (−80 °F) and as high as +34.5 °C (94.1 °F). On average, however, the region is very cold, with an average temperature of −1.1 °C (30.0 °F). Precipitation tends to be fairly low; 553 millimeters (21.8 in) per year, which is heavier in the summer than in the winter. The average wind speed is 2.4 meters per second (7.9 ft/s), and the average humidity is 77%.
Khanty-Mansiysk is a skiing and alpine skiing center of global importance. Biathlon World Cup competitions are annually held in the city, and tourism infrastructure has been developed here quite well. The city was the venue of the 2003 and 2011 Biathlon World Championships, and in 2005 the first Mixed Biathlon Relay Championships took place here, and again in 2010. The 2011 IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing World Championships where skiers with a physical disability compete, took place in Khanty-Mansiysk in March–April 2011 as well.
Khanty-Mansiysk is home to 2015 Winter Deaflympics.
Fifteen hotels offer their services to tourists since 2005. All of them are fully booked during Biathlon World Cups, regional and All-Russia conferences, etc., so it is practically impossible to book a room in a hotel during these events. In 2007 during the Biathlon World Cup Final 65,000 tourists visited the Nordic Ski Centre in Khanty-Mansiysk, which is equal to the overall population of Khanty-Mansiysk.
Khanty-Mansiysk is home to HC Yugra of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The city includes the Ugra Chess Academy, which has been the venue of the 2010 Chess Olympiad and the Women's World Chess Championship 2012. In 2010, the Olympic Hotel was built just to house the players in the Olympiad. It also hosted the 2005 Chess World Cup, the 2007 Chess World Cup, the 2009 Chess World Cup and the 2011 Chess World Cup. It hosted the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in 2013 and the 2014 Candidates Tournament. In May 2015, FIDE Grand Prix tournament was held.