Tunisia

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Tunisia , officially known as the Republic of Tunisia , is a country in Northern Africa that has a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the very centre of Mediterranean Africa. Tunisia lies immediately to the south of Italy and Malta. Libya borders Tunisia to the south-east, whilst Algeria lies to the west. Tunisia is the smallest in area of the North African countries.

Population: 10,835,873 people
Area: 163,610 km2
Highest point: 1,544 m
Coastline: 1,148 km
Life expectancy: 75.46 years
GDP per capita: $9,900
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Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
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  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
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  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About Tunisia

History

Tunisia has a rich cultural history, ever since Antiquity. The Carthaginian Empire, Rome's arch enemy, was centered in Tunisia. Its capital, Carthage, is now a suburb of Tunis. Founded by Phoenician settlers from Tyre and Sidon (modern day Lebanon), Carthage was an ancient Mediterranean powerhouse. Three wars between Rome and Carthage (known as the Punic wars) were waged in the first few centuries before the birth of Christ. These culminated with the decimation of Carthage in 146 B.C. by the Roman general Scipio, who is said to have wept at its destruction.

Between the destruction of Ancient Carthage and the Arabic conquests of the 7th century, many cultures have made Tunisia their home. Carthage enjoyed a new period of prosperity under the Roman Empire until its collapse in the 5th century. Roman rule was replaced briefly by the Vandals, who made Carthage the capital of their kingdom. Carthage was then absorbed temporarily by the Byzantine Empire, until the rise of Islam in the 7th century.

After the dissipation of the Arabic Caliphates, the Ottoman Empire's Turkish Pashas ruled Tunisia. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia eventually fell under the sway of European Imperialism, as a French Protectorate, along with neighboring Algeria.

Following independence from France in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation.

Habib Bourghiba was quietly replaced in 1987 by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Ben Ali, for short). His forced abdication was carried out under the pretext that he was unfit to carry out his duties as president, due to his ailing mental and physical state as a result of extreme old age. Nonetheless Bourghiba is still credited with the birth of the modern state of Tunisia, for which he fought his entire life.

In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.

Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration.

Climate

Temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south.

Activities

Beaches

Beach resort holidays in Tunisia are extremely popular, especially with Europeans. The main resorts are on the east coast from La Goulette (close to Tunis) south to Monastir. The southern island of Djerba is an alternative. Many water sport activities are widely available or you can just relax, taking advantage of the almost relentless sunny climate.

All of Tunisia can be proud of its beaches, you just have to know where to find the "undiscovered" ones. There is a beach not far from Sousse called Chott Meriam. The beach is clean with white sand and beautiful clean sea. The best beaches of Tunisia can be found in Djerba, Ghar El-Melh, Rafrafbeach, Sidi El Mekki, Sounine, Sousse and Zarzis.

The desert

Treks into the desert are an increasingly popular part of a visit to Tunisia, and the towns of Douz and Tozeur are good starting points. Close to Tozeur is the small town of Metlaoui, and this is the starting point of a great train journey. The beautifully-restored wagons date from 1904, and the luxurious train takes you into a truly stunning desert mountain landscape.

Food

Tunisian cuisine is very much in the Northern African Maghreb tradition, with couscous and marqa stews (similar to the Moroccan tajine, however what Tunisians refer to as "tajines" are nothing like the Moroccan variety) forming the backbone of most meals. Distinguishing characteristics are the fiery harissa chili sauce, the heavy use of tiny olives which are abundant in the country, and tajines in Tunisia (not to be confused with their Moroccan counterparts) refer to a type of omelette-like pie prepared with a ragout of meat and/or vegetables mixed with ingredients such as herbs, legumes and even offal, then enriched with eggs and cheese and finally baked in a deep pie dish until the eggs are just set, somewhat like an Italian frittata. Lamb forms the basis of most meat dishes. Local seafood is plentiful.

  • Shorba Frik - lamb soup
  • Coucha - shoulder of lamb cooked with turmeric and cayenne pepper
  • Khobz Tabouna - (pronounce Khobz Taboona) traditional oven baked bread
  • Brik - very crispy thin pastry with a whole egg (Brik à l'oeuf), parsley and onions and perhaps, meat too e.g. minced lamb or tuna (Brik au thon). Very tasty as an inexpensive starter. Eat it very carefully with your fingers.
  • Berber Lamb - Lamb cooked with potatoes, carrots in a clay pot.
  • Merguez - small spicy sausages.
  • Salade Tunisienne - lettuce, green pepper, tomato, onions, olives, radishes mixed with tuna.
  • Tunisian cakes - sweets related to Baklava.
  • Harissa - very hot spicy chili paste (sometimes made more mild with carrots or yogurt), served with bread as a starter at almost any meal.
  • Fricasse - small fried sandwich with tuna, harissa, olives and olive oil.
  • Bambaloony - fried sweet donut-like cake served with sugar.

Regrettably, Tunisia has a very underdeveloped restaurant culture, and most food prepared outside of Tunisian homes is disappointingly bland and carelessly presented. These characteristics tend to apply across the price scale, though one can occasionally eat tasty couscous or "coucha" stew in some low-priced restaurants. One's best hope for good eating in Tunisia is to be invited as a guest in someone's home.

Drinks

Being a progressive Muslim country, alcohol availability is restricted (but not greatly) to certain licensed (and invariably more expensive) restaurants, resort areas and Magasin General shops. Large department stores (Carrefour at Marsa/Carthage) and some supermarkets (e.g. Monoprix) sell beer and wine, and some local and imported hard liquors, except during Muslim holidays. Female travelers should be aware that, outside resort and areas of significant tourist concentration, they may find themselves with a beer in a smoky bar full of men drinking in a rather dedicated fashion. Some bars will refuse to admit women, others may ask for a passport to check nationality. Look around a bar before you decide to imbibe!

  • Beer - Celtia is the popular local brand, but some places also carry imported pilsner beers. Locally brewed LowenBrau is decent, and Heineken is planning a Tunisian Brewery in 2007. Celtia "En Pression" (On Tap) is good. Celestia is a non-alcoholic beer which is also popular.
  • Wine - Most places that serve alcohol will have Tunisian wine, which is quite good. Tunisian wine always was produced by French oenologists. Most of it was exported to France till the 1970s. Wine cooperatives were left and produce 80% of the wine which is served mostly to tourists. Since the privatisation of some parts of these cooperatives the international taste of wine entered the market in Tunisia. The small companies like Domaine Atlas, St. Augustin, Ceptunes etc. have successfully established the new generation of Tunisian wine. Importation of wine is extremely difficult because of very high taxes. Some high-end hotel restaurants can make French or Italian wines miraculously appear at a price.
  • Boukha - is a Tunisian brandy made from figs.
  • Coffee - served strong in small cups. Tunisian cappuccino is also served strong in small cups. "Cafe Creme" is available in many tourist areas and may even appear in an "American Cup".
  • Tea - is generally taken after meals.
  • Mint Tea - very sweet peppermint tea that is taken at any time of the day.
  • fehria.


Shopping

The national currency is the Tunisian dinar (TND). As of January 2014, 1 USD = 1.65 TND. Typical banknotes are in the values of 5 (green), 10 (blue or brown), 20 (violet-red), 30 (orange), and 50 Dinars (green and purple). The Dinar is divided into 1000 Millemes, with typical coins being 5 Dinars (Silver with copper insert), 1 Dinar (large silver color), 500 Millemes (1/2 Dinar: smaller silver color), 100 and 50 Millemes, (large brass), 20 and 10 Millemes (smaller brass) and 5 Millemes (small aluminum). It is prohibited to bring dinars in and out of Tunisia, so you have to change your money locally.

Prices are typically marked in dinars and millemes, with a decimal point like: 5.600 or 24.000 or 0.360 sometimes with TND as a label like TND85.500. Markets typically sell items by the kilogram. So tomatoes may have a sign "480" on them which means 480 millemes per kilo. Good cheese will be marked something like 12.400 or about $10 a kilo. Most self-serve supermarkets expect you to put your purchases in supplied plastic bags and then bring them to the nearby scales where a worker will weigh them and apply a price sticker.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Tunisia on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Tunisia

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Hammamet is in Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Hammamet Beach
  • Hammamet Souk
  • Carthage Land
  • Hammamet Fort
  • Port Yasmine
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Tunis is the capital of Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Zitouna Mosque
  • Souk El Attarine
  • Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul
  • Carthage Acropolium
  • Place 7 de Novembre
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Monastir is a city in Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Ribat of Monastir
  • Monastir Beach
  • Bourguiba Mausoleum
  • Stade Mustapha Ben Jannet
  • Flamingo Golf Course
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Port El Kantaoui is an upscale suburb of Sousse and a resort in Tunisia.

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Sousse is in Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Ribat of Sousse
  • Port El Kantaoui Harbour
  • Sousse Beach
  • Port El Kantaoui Beach
  • Stade Olympique
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Interesting places:

  • Grand Mosque
  • Mahdia Beach
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Tunis is the capital of Tunisia.

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La Marsa is a beach-side settlement in Tunis, Tunisia.

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Interesting places:

  • Nabeul Beach
  • Maamoura Beach
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The ruins of Carthage are in Tunisia, 15 km north of Tunis.

Interesting places:

  • Antonin Baths
  • Carthage Museum
  • St. Louis Cathedral
  • La Goulette Beach
  • North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial
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Sfax is on the east coast of Tunisia, approximately midway on the highway between Tunis and the border with Libya.

Interesting places:

  • Stade Taieb M\'hiri
  • Kerkennah Islands
  • Sfax Archaeological Museum
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Tozeur is a city in Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Chott el-Jerid
  • Dar Chrait Museum
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Interesting places:

  • Fort Tabarka
  • Tarbarka Harbour
  • Tabarka Beach
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Douz is a small town in south-central of Tunisia. Referred to as the "Gateway to the Sahara", Douz is a popular destination for tourists looking to experience the desert, either by camel or four-wheel drive.

Interesting places:

  • Sahara Museum
  • Douz Piazza
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Bizerte is in Tunisia. Located on the north coast approx. 100km from Tunis.

Interesting places:

  • Stade du 15 Octobre
  • Bizerte Beach
  • Ichkeul National Park
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Interesting places:

  • Bulla Regia Ruins
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Tataouine is a city in Tunisia.

Interesting places:

  • Chenini
  • Douiret
  • Ksar Ouled Soltane
  • Sidi Toui National Park
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Interesting places:

  • Parc Ras Ras el-Ain Kebili
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Nefta is a city in the south of Tunisia, near the Algerian border. Many tourists will come to Nefta to visit nearby sites that can just as easily be visited from Tozeur, which has far more options in terms of hotels and restaurants.

Interesting places:

  • Oasis Entrance Gate
  • Corbeille of Nefta
  • Great Mosque of Sidi Salem
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Kairouan is a city in Tunisia. Arabic القيروان (also known as Kairwan, Kayrawan, Al Qayrawan) is a Muslim holy city which ranks fourth after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem as a place of pilgrimage. It is reputed that seven visits here are the equivalent of one to Mecca. Its large mosques and cultural history ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Mosque of Uqba
  • Aghlabid Basin
  • Zaouia Sidi Sahbi
  • Mosque of the Three Doors
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Ksar Ghilane is an oasis in Southern Tunisia located on the boundary of the Grand Erg Oriental.

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Matmata is a village in the south of Tunisia, famous for its troglodyte (cave) dwellings. Scenes from a number of Star Wars movies were filmed here.

Interesting places:

  • Hotel Sidi Driss
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Tunisia

History and archaeology

Although Tunisia is best known today for its beach resort holidays, the country has an amazing heritage with some exceptional archaeological remains to be explored.

Little remains of Carthage, but what does is well presented and an absolute must see for every visitor to Tunisia. This great city of the Pheonician and Punic periods dates from the 6th century BC and was the base of a hugely powerful empire spanning the entire south Mediterranean. Its most famous general was Hannibal who crossed the Alps to battle the Romans. Hannibal suffered his first significant defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC, and after over 50 years of being watched closely by Rome, Carthage was attacked in the 3rd Punic War and completely destroyed. The city was redeveloped by the Romans a century later, and Carthage became the capital of the Roman province of Africa. What we see today are the remains of that era.

Both Monastir and Sousse are well known as beach resorts amongst sun-worshiping Europeans, but they are also towns with great historical heritage. Monastir has a history back to the time of Hannibal, an especially notable museum and a wonderful ribat (fortified monastery). Sousse is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its authentic medina and souk, which should not be missed.

El Kef has a splendid Byzantine kasbah rising out of the old medina with both Byzantine and Ottoman architecture evident. At El Jem you will find exceptional remains of a Roman amphitheater, yet another Tunisian UNESCO World Heritage Site.

North of the desert

In the northwest, Jugurtha's Table is a large mesa with a moon-like surface and deep crevasses and is normally accessed fom the town of El Kef.

The desert

Tunisia has some of the most accessible, beautiful Saharan desert scenery. George Lucas fans will recognise the village of Matmata. The troglodyte dwellings here were used as the set for the young Luke Skywalker's home of Tatooine. The central western desert towns of Tozeur (with the film set of Mos Eisley) and Douz are surrounded by beautiful Saharan dune scenery. Since 2009 the oasis Ksar Ghilane is accessible by tarmac road.

Ribat of Sousse - Sousse

Ribat of Monastir - Monastir

Zitouna Mosque - Tunis

Hammamet Beach - Hammamet

El Djem Amphitheatre - El Djem

Mosque of Uqba - Kairouan

Antonin Baths - Carthage

Dougga - Teboursouk

Grand Mosque - Mahdia

Chenini - Tataouine

Fort Tabarka - Tabarka

Hotel Sidi Driss - Matmata

Houmt Souq Harbour - Houmt Souq

Stade du 15 Octobre - Bizerte

Nabeul Beach - Nabul

Chott el-Jerid - Tozeur

Kerkouane - Dar Allouche

Ghorfa Complex - Medenine

Stade Taieb M\'hiri - Sfax

El Ghriba Synagogue - Erriadh

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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