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Austrian West Africa
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© 2018 - 2019 FederalRepublic
According to the book "Die begrängte Großmacht, Österreich-Ungarn und das europäische Mächtesystem 1866/67-1914" by Konrad Canis there was a proposal by Austrian businessmen to purchase the colony of Rio de Oro (most of modern Western Sahara) from Spain back in 1899, just a year after the Spanish-American War. Spanish control over the colony was limited and according to contemporary observers it was mismanaged, so these Austrian businessmen saw an opportunity to properly exploit the small West African colony by expanding fisheries, genuine attempts at agriculture, and by using it as a coaling station for Austrian goods going overseas. Supposedly an agreement was made between this group of businessmen and the cash-starved Spanish government, but the Hungarian side of the dual monarchy blocked the acquisition of the colony. But what if the purchase had happened? It would've provided Austria-Hungary with a small colony of their own (ignoring their concession at Tianjin, which it only gained in 1902 anyway), even if it wasn't "prime real estate". In the event of Austria(-Hungary) keeping their small colony throughout the years, the resulting nation would undoubtedly be a fascinating place to behold.
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Comments (11)
CarlosRSL's avatar
CarlosRSL|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Now that is something i'd like to have happen. I wonder how that would have changed the local culture
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Artificer6's avatar
That is an incredibly interesting combination. South German-speaking/influenced Arabs, possibly relying on tourism for much of its economy (in the modern day)?.
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FederalRepublic's avatar
FederalRepublic|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Based on what we can grasp about the economy in OTL's Western Sahara, mining (especially phosphate) and fishing would probably be the main economic drivers, with a nice supplement of tourism (though I reckon it'd be a "tripster nation"), oil, and enough agriculture to almost sustain itself.

And I'd definitely love to see how Austrian architectural trends would be adjusted for the climate. The closest comparison we have IOTL is the former Austro-Hungarian concession in Tianjin, where you can still see a lot of Austrian architecture, but then again the climate is quite more agreeable there than the edge of the Sahara.
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RavenHeart1984's avatar
RavenHeart1984|Professional Traditional Artist
good job
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Sapiento's avatar
Sapiento|Professional Digital Artist
I consider myself an expert in Austrian history, but this is news even to me. Excellent!
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1saby's avatar
BEHOLD THE MIGHTY AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN COLONIAL EMPIRE!
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PG-1987's avatar
A-H did already have a colony, Bosnia.
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FederalRepublic's avatar
FederalRepublic|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, kinda, though it's a hotly debated issue which mostly involves semantics.
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dsfisher's avatar
dsfisher|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting, are there any online resources about this proposal?

[Also, great map!]
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FederalRepublic's avatar
FederalRepublic|Hobbyist Digital Artist
I stumbled across this proposal over on Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian…), interestingly it's not even mentioned in the German article, and it took me a few minutes to trace that claim back to the book I listed in the description (it's listed on Google Books, by the way, and the page which mentions it is part of the preview) . I'd love to have more sources on this, but I didn't have luck so far.
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dsfisher's avatar
dsfisher|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Seems very interesting, surprised it's not in more timelines considering how close it came to being a reality
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