Russia was a European empire (one of the biggest) when the scramble for Africa happened and they had enough resources to get a ton of Africa, so why didn't they colonize in Africa? It could have been a really good opportunity for them.

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    What would they need from Africa? They already had plenty of resources and land.
    – Steve Bird
    May 21 at 21:17
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    They could not manage (without high financial losses) all what they got, that's why they sold Alaska in 1867. May 21 at 21:47
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    Look up Russian attempts to colonize Ethiopia. They did their best!
    – SPavel
    May 21 at 22:19
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    Documenting preliminary research will improve both the probability of an answer and the quality of the answer(s) Russia had Siberia - all the natural resources it needed, but it lacked the capital to exploit. Resource extraction requires an educated workforce, industrial capacity, etc.
    – MCW
    May 21 at 22:37
  • Another explanation lies in A.T. Mahan's 1890 book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783, a wonderfully well informed and thoughtful book. Mahan makes the very strong case that sea power underlay the early modern history of Western Civilization's empires and, by extension, the colonization of Africa. In comparison with European powers, Russia's ocean footprints were limited and did not include easy access to the African continent.
    – DJohnson
    May 26 at 11:24

2 Answers 2


You got your facts wrong.

Russia had (and has) great resources, but always had (and has) problems monetizing them. They didn't sell Alaska for pennies on the dollar because they are such generous people, but because they desperately needed the cash. Especially after loosing the Crimean War in 1856. That's probably the reason why they sold it to the USA, not to Great Britain.

Russia doesn't have too many warm water ports. Maritime trade never has been that important for Russia. Today the sanctions they face would cripple any other nation, but Russia seems to endure it. Why? Because it doesn't really need outside resources.

Apart from that, they already had a colony. The largest in the world, it's called Siberia.

Even so, a Mr. Nicolas Ivanovitch Achinoff did try to set up a colony in Africa, in Somaliland. His colonial experiment was not supported by the Russian government, and wasn't successful.

  • If this piece is to be believed, Moscow only withdrew official support [which was rather nominal] after the colony had failed.
    – Fizz

During this time Russia was already engaged in a colonial enterprise on a staggering scale - the conquest of Central Asia. Conquering and then digesting such a vast territory more or less took up most of Russia's attention and resources available for colonization.

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