The Most Famous

EXPLORERS from Russia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Russian Explorers. The pantheon dataset contains 405 Explorers, 27 of which were born in Russia. This makes Russia the birth place of the 5th most number of Explorers behind United States and France.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Russian Explorers of all time. This list of famous Russian Explorers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Russian Explorers.

Photo of Nikolay Przhevalsky

1. Nikolay Przhevalsky (1839 - 1888)

With an HPI of 71.24, Nikolay Przhevalsky is the most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages on wikipedia.

Nikolay Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky (or Prjevalsky; April 12 [O.S. March 31] 1839 – November 1 [O.S. October 20] 1888) was a Russian Imperial geographer and a renowned explorer of Central and East Asia. Although he never reached his ultimate goal, the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet, he traveled through regions then unknown to the West, such as northern Tibet (modern Tibet Autonomous Region), Amdo (now Qinghai) and Dzungaria (now northern Xinjiang). He contributed substantially to European knowledge of Central Asian geography. He also described several species previously unknown to European science: Przewalski's horse, Przewalski's gazelle, and the Wild Bactrian camel, all of which are now endangered. He was a mentor of his follower Pyotr Kozlov.

Photo of Ferdinand von Wrangel

2. Ferdinand von Wrangel (1797 - 1870)

With an HPI of 70.18, Ferdinand von Wrangel is the 2nd most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Baron Ferdinand Friedrich Georg Ludwig von Wrangel (Russian: Барон Фердина́нд Петро́вич Вра́нгель, tr. Ferdinand Petrovich Vrangel'; 9 January 1797 [O.S. 29 December 1796] – 6 June [O.S. 25 May] 1870) was a Baltic German explorer and seaman in the Imperial Russian Navy, Honorable Member of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, a founder of the Russian Geographic Society. He is best known as chief manager of the Russian-American Company, in fact governor of the Russian settlements in present-day Alaska. In English texts, Wrangel is sometimes spelled Vrangel, a transliteration from Russian, which more closely represents its pronunciation in German, or Wrangell.

Photo of Semyon Dezhnev

3. Semyon Dezhnev (1605 - 1673)

With an HPI of 69.16, Semyon Dezhnev is the 3rd most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnyov (Russian: Семён Ива́нович Дежнёв, IPA: [sʲɪˈmʲɵn ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ dʲɪˈʐnʲɵf]; sometimes spelled Dezhnyov; c. 1605 – 1673) was a Russian explorer of Siberia and the first European to sail through the Bering Strait, 80 years before Vitus Bering did. In 1648 he sailed from the Kolyma River on the Arctic Ocean to the Anadyr River on the Pacific. His exploit was forgotten for almost a hundred years and Bering is usually given credit for discovering the strait that bears his name.

Photo of Afanasy Nikitin

4. Afanasy Nikitin (1500 - 1475)

With an HPI of 68.18, Afanasy Nikitin is the 4th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Afanasy Nikitin (Russian: Афана́сий Ники́тин; died 1472) was a Russian merchant from Tver and one of the first Europeans (after Niccolò de' Conti) to travel to and document his visit to India. He described his trip in a narrative known as The Journey Beyond Three Seas (Russian: Хождение за три моря, Khozhdeniye za tri morya).

Photo of Mikhail Lazarev

5. Mikhail Lazarev (1788 - 1851)

With an HPI of 67.64, Mikhail Lazarev is the 5th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Admiral Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev (Russian: Михаил Петрович Лазарев, 3 November 1788 – 11 April 1851) was a Russian fleet commander and an explorer.

Photo of Vladimir Arsenyev

6. Vladimir Arsenyev (1872 - 1930)

With an HPI of 66.84, Vladimir Arsenyev is the 6th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Vladimir Klavdiyevich Arsenyev, (Russian: Влади́мир Кла́вдиевич Арсе́ньев; 10 September 1872 – 4 September 1930) was a Russian explorer of the Far East who recounted his travels in a series of books — "По Уссурийскому Краю" ("Along the Ussuri land") (1921) and "Дерсу Узала" ("Dersu Uzala") (1923) — telling of his military journeys to the Ussuri basin with Dersu Uzala, a native hunter, from 1902 to 1907. He was the first to describe numerous species of Siberian flora and the lifestyles of native ethnic peoples.

Photo of Nikolai Rezanov

7. Nikolai Rezanov (1764 - 1807)

With an HPI of 66.06, Nikolai Rezanov is the 7th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov (Russian: Николай Петрович Резанов) (28 March [O.S. 8 April] 1764 – 13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1807), a Russian nobleman and statesman, promoted the project of Russian colonization of Alaska and California to three successive Emperors of All Russia—Catherine the Great, Paul, and Aleksander I. Aleksander I commissioned Rezanov as Russian ambassador to Japan (1804) with the aim of concluding a commercial treaty. In order to get to his post he was appointed co-commander of the First Russian circumnavigation (1803-1806), led by Adam Johann von Krusenstern. Rezanov left the expedition in 1805 when it returned to Kamchatka after visiting Japan (1804-1805). Rezanov wrote a lexicon of the Japanese language and several other works, which are preserved in the library of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, of which he was a member. Rezanov's greatest legacy proved the founding of the Russian-American Company in 1799.

Photo of Alexander Andreyevich Baranov

8. Alexander Andreyevich Baranov (1746 - 1819)

With an HPI of 65.27, Alexander Andreyevich Baranov is the 8th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Alexander Andreyevich Baranov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Андре́евич Бара́нов; 3 February [O.S. 14 February] 1747 – 16 April [O.S. 28 April] 1819), sometimes spelled Aleksandr or Alexandr and Baranof, was a Russian trader and merchant, who worked for some time in Siberia. He was recruited by the Shelikhov-Golikov Company for trading in Russian America, beginning in 1790 with a five-year contract as manager of the outpost. He continued to serve past the end date of his contract. In 1799 Baranov was promoted, appointed by the recently chartered Russian-American Company as Chief Manager, effectively the first governor of Russian America. He served until 1818. This was the early colonial period of expansion of settlements. He founded Pavlovskaya (Kodiak) and later New Archangel (Sitka), Russian colonies that were bases of the company in present-day Alaska. In addition, he oversaw the expansion of the lucrative fur trade with Alaska Natives. He continued to support his Russian wife and children, who had moved from Siberia back to live near St. Petersburg. In Pavlovskaya, Baranov took an Aleut woman as mistress and had three mixed-race children with her. After learning that his wife had died in 1807 in Russia, he married his mistress, legitimizing their children. In 1817 Irina, his oldest daughter born in Alaska, married Semyon Yanovsky, a Russian naval officer. Late in 1818, Yanovsky was appointed as Chief Manager and successor to Baranov. That year Baranov departed to sail back to Russia, but he died in April 1819 and was buried at sea.

Photo of Vasily Tatishchev

9. Vasily Tatishchev (1686 - 1750)

With an HPI of 65.15, Vasily Tatishchev is the 9th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Vasily Nikitich Tatishchev (Russian: Васи́лий Ники́тич Тати́щев) (19 April 1686 – 15 July 1750) was a prominent Russian Imperial statesman, historian, philosopher, and ethnographer, best remembered as the author of the first full-scale Russian history and founder of three Russian cities: Stavropol-on-Volga (now Tolyatti), Yekaterinburg, and Perm. Throughout this work, he advocates the idea that autocracy is the perfect form of government for Russia.

Photo of Yerofey Khabarov

10. Yerofey Khabarov (1603 - 1671)

With an HPI of 63.83, Yerofey Khabarov is the 10th most famous Russian Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Yerofey Pavlovich Khabarov or Svyatitsky (Russian: Ерофе́й Па́влович Хаба́ров (Святи́тский), Yerofej Pavlovič Habarov (Svjatickij); the first name is often spelled Ярофей (Yarofey) in contemporary accounts; 1603 – after 1671), was a Russian entrepreneur and adventurer, best known for his exploring the Amur river region and his attempts to colonize the area for Russia. For background see Russian-Manchu border conflicts. The major Russian city of Khabarovsk, as well as the small town and railway station Yerofey Pavlovich (located on the Trans-Siberian railroad in Amur Oblast) bear his name. A native of the Veliky Ustyug area in the northern European Russia, Khabarov was a manager for the Stroganovs at the saltworks in Solvychegodsk. In 1625, Khabarov sailed from Tobolsk to Mangazeya. Three years later, he left the town with his expedition and reached the Kheta River (eastern part of Taimyr). In 1630, Khabarov took part in a voyage from Mangazeya to Tobolsk. In 1632—1641, he reached the Lena River and founded a farming settlement with saltworks along the Lena at the mouths of the Kuta and Kirenga Rivers. Now his descendants live in Stavropol.

Pantheon has 27 people classified as explorers born between 1500 and 1939. Of these 27, 1 (3.70%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living explorers include Artur Chilingarov. The most famous deceased explorers include Nikolay Przhevalsky, Ferdinand von Wrangel, and Semyon Dezhnev. As of October 2020, 4 new explorers have been added to Pantheon including Pyotr Anjou, Gennady Nevelskoy, and Artur Chilingarov.

Living Explorers

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Deceased Explorers

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Newly Added Explorers (2020)

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Which Explorers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 18 most globally memorable Explorers since 1700.