Originally, the reindeer was found in Scandinavia, eastern Europe, Greenland, Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. In North America, it was found in Canada, Alaska, and the northern conterminous USA from Washington to Maine.
Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people.
Domesticated reindeer are shorter-legged and heavier than their wild counterparts.They are raised for their meat, hides, and antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation.
Reindeer are not considered fully domesticated, as they generally roam free on pasture grounds. In traditional nomadic herding, reindeer herders migrate with their herds between coast and inland areas according to an annual migration route and herds are keenly tended.
Reindeer can see light with wavelengths as short as 320 nm, considerably below the human threshold of 400 nm. It is thought that this ability helps them to survive in the Arctic, because many objects that blend into the landscape in normally visible light, such as urine and fur, produce sharp contrasts in ultraviolet.
Arctic reindeer eyes change in colour through the seasons from gold through to blue to help them better detect predators.