If nothing else, President Obama has made a bit of history on his fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa while in office.
His travel plans, released ahead of time, prompted a few questions: How many American presidents have visited Africa while in office? And where exactly have they gone?
It turns out, not many places.
The State Department’s Office of the Historian keeps fairly detailed records about where U.S. presidents have traveled abroad during their terms in office.
Before Obama’s current trip, American presidents had visited only 16 of Africa’s current 54 countries. By the end of it, barring anything unscheduled, that number rises to 18.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to go outside the country, in a brief November 1906 visit to Panama to observe construction of the canal.
Decades later, his fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, became the first sitting American president to visit Africa. In January 1943, Roosevelt made a secret trip to Casablanca, Morocco, at the time a French protectorate, to discuss war strategies with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Roosevelt’s first stop on the continent was Bathurst, now the Gambian capital of Banjul, and which at the time was under British rule. He briefly stopped there again after Casablanca, then made a visit to Liberia before returning to Washington.
The trips to these territories or countries involved everything from a brief disembarking from a plane to a full state visit. In terms of the most presidential visits, Egypt handily takes the top spot, followed distantly by Senegal and South Africa.