America’s Most Enduring Foreign Relationship

America’s longest unbroken foreign relationship is with Morocco, which was technically the first country to recognize the U.S. as an independent nation.

Sultan Muhammad III—who had just consolidated his reign after years of instability and turmoil—wanted to establish fruitful trade relations; so, in 1777, just as the American Revolution was heating up, he declared Morocco’s ports open to American ships, promising them safe passage into the Mediterranean and protection from pirates—even from fellow Muslim nations. (Even France, which would become our biggest ally and the first country to sign a treaty with us, had not openly declared support at this stage.)

In 1786, the two countries signed the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship (Treaty of Marrakesh), which has lasted over 230 years–longer than any other treaty.

The provisions of the treaty are incredibly progressive and amicable, relative to our perception of Christian-Muslim relations at the time (let alone today). In addition to reaffirming protection of one another’s commercial vessels, it obligates the two nations to never to assist the other’s enemies, to allow safe travels to each other’s citizens within their territory, and even provides a procedure in the event their nationals dies in the other’s lands without a will.

Global Spotlight: Chefchaouen, Morocco

Do not let the difficult name (for English-speakers anyway) intimidate you: this friendly town is well worth paying a visit to. Not only is it in close proximity to the Spanish coast, but with over 200 hotels and numerous mom-and-pop restaurants and shops, it is very accommodating.

Of course, as you will see, the main draw is the collection of distinctively blue-tinged buildings, which add an aesthetic, if not whimsical, vibe (click the images to make them larger).

[Note: I did not take any of these photos, and with only a few exceptions, none of them are sourced or watermarked. If anyone recognizes these, please feel free to let me know so I can credit their respective photographers].

In any case, I cannot wait to take some photos of this lovely town myself some day.