Sagallo was a short-lived Russian settlement established in 1889 on the Gulf of Tadjoura in French Somaliland. It was located some 149 kilometres (93 miles) west of Djibouti City.


Sagallo (Russian: Сагалло; Arabic: ساغلو; French: Sagallou; Somali: Sagaalo) is a village situated on the Gulf of Tadjoura, in the country of Djibouti, famous for having been occupied by a Russian monk and adventurer in 1889.

ساغلو (sajalu)
Contemporary engraving showing Sagallo under Nikolai Ashinov's control
Contemporary engraving showing Sagallo under Nikolai Ashinov's control
Sagallo is located in Djibouti
Location in Djibouti
Coordinates: 11°40′N 42°44′E / 11.667°N 42.733°E / 11.667; 42.733
Country Djibouti
RegionTadjourah Region
21 m (69 ft)


Whether a coincidence or not, "Sagallo" (or "Sakaro") is one of the lunar months in Somali culture.[1]


The Ottoman Empire had loose control over the area from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.[2] In reality, however, the Afar Sultans of Tadjoura were in control.[3] It was during this time, that Sagallo was visited by the Englishman William Cornwallis Harris on his way to Ankobar, in the year 1841. His assistant surgeon, who wrote the report on the expedition, mentioned that water in the village was abundant in wells.[4]

Timeline of Sagallo
Historical affiliations

 Tadjoura (to 1883)
  France, (French Somaliland), 1883-1889
  Russian Empire, (New Moscow), 1889
  France, (French Somaliland and FTAI) 1889–1977
  Djibouti, 1977–present

By the early 1870s, Egypt had been gaining power in the region and, in 1873, the Egyptians occupied Sagallo and other sites on the Gulf of Tadjoura, but their hold didn't last long.[5] In 1884, the Sultan of Tadjoura, Mohammed Loitah, ceded Sagallo to Paul Soleillet of the Société Française d'Obock, forcing the Egyptians to retire.[6]

An article from Le Progrès Illustré on Achinov's expedition

In 1883, Nikolai Ivanovich Ashinov, a Russian adventurer and burgess of Penza[7][8] (b. 1856[9]) had visited Abyssinia (the Ethiopian Empire) in order to establish clerical and political ties between the two countries. After his return to Russia, Achinov voiced his plans for an 1888 expedition to the Gulf of Tadjoura to establish a settlement, while claiming to be a free Cossack. Achinov assured the participants that Mohammed Loitah had permanently leased him land in the region.[10] It was purely on his own initiative, and without the involvement of the Russian government, that on 10 December 1888, Achinov along with 165 Terek Cossacks boarded the Kornilov, a ship heading from Odessa to Alexandria. The expedition then boarded the Lazarev which brought them to Port Said. There, Achinov rented the Austrian ship Amfitrida, which entered the Gulf of Tadjoura on 6 January 1889. The expedition was greeted by a group of Ethiopian priests.[10] Achinov struggled to keep the Cossacks under his control, but some raided the Danakil, stealing a cow and a sheep after driving off the local tribesmen with rifle fire. The sultan accepted 60 francs from Achinov as reparations.[11] The French foreign office demanded an explanation of Achinov's actions and the Russian ambassador in Paris distanced the Russian Empire from him. On January 14, the abandoned Egyptian fort of Sagallo was chosen as the new base of the expedition. Achinov named the fort New Moscow. A tent was erected to serve as the church of St. Nicholas and a flag of the expedition was raised.[10] Rumours about the formidable size of the expedition quickly spread through the press. Later, several colonists escaped to Obock, informing the French of the settlement's whereabouts. On 5 February, the Cossacks noticed a French cruiser and three French gunboats. An ultimatum was issued, but Achinov misunderstood it and did not surrender. The artillery barrage that followed came as a complete surprise for the Russians, leaving 6 colonists dead and 22 wounded.[12] A white shirt was raised to show surrender. The Russian government disavowed Achinov, accusing him of disobedience to the Tsar and acts of piracy. Participants were arrested and deported to Odessa aboard the Zabiyaka.[11]

In 1977, after three referendums, the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas finally became independent from France as the newly formed country of Djibouti.[13][14] By this point, the water had become scarce, and the community of Sagallo used generators to run water pumps, even though it often fell short of raising enough cash to purchase diesel to power the generators. In the early 21st century, however, a UNICEF-backed project installed solar panels on a hill to power a submersible pump that now delivers the water when ever needed.[15]


Climate data for Sagallo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 29.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 20.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 10

See also


  1. ^ John Anthony Hunt (1951). A General Survey of the Somaliland Protectorate 1944-1950. p. 10.
  2. ^ "Djibouti country profile". BBC.
  3. ^ A Political Chronology of Africa, (Taylor & Francis: 2001), p. 132 ISBN 1857431162.
  4. ^ The Journal of the Royal Geographic Society of London. Vol. 12. United Kingdom. 1843. p. 221-222.
  5. ^ Leila Tarazi Fawaz (2002). Modernity and Culture from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, 1890--1920. p. 65.
  6. ^ "FRENCH SOMALI COAST 1708 – 1946 FRENCH SOMALI COAST |". Archived from the original on 9 June 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013. FRENCH SOMALI COAST Timeline
  7. ^ Also spelled Ashinov, Achimov, Atchinoff or Atchimoff
  8. ^ (in French) Le cosaque Achinoff in Le Progrès Illustré (French daily newspaper), March 1, 1891
  9. ^ Ernest A. Wallis Budge, A history of Ethiopia, Nubia and Abyssinia, Taylor & Francis,1928.
  10. ^ a b c "Neva,2001, №8, p. 217-220". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b "French Somali History". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Lunochkiv" (in Russian). Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  13. ^ Kevin Shillington, Encyclopedia of African history, (CRC Press: 2005), p.360.
  14. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p. 322 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  15. ^ "Sagallou: innovating for children". 15 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Climate: Sagallo – Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 29 November 2017.

Further reading

11°40′13″N 42°44′00″E / 11.67028°N 42.73333°E / 11.67028; 42.73333

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