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Travel Info


Quick Facts
CapitalTunis
Governmentrepublic
CurrencyTunisian dinar (TND)
Areatotal: 163,610 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
land: 155,360 sq km
Population9,924,742 (end 2003)
LanguageArabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
ReligionMuslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Calling Code216
Internet TLD.tn
Time ZoneUTC +1

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.

Regions

Administrative divisions 
23 governorates; Ariana (Aryanah), Beja (Bajah), Ben Arous (Bin 'Arus), Bizerte (Banzart), El Kef (Al Kaf), Gabes (Qabis), Gafsa (Qafsah), Jendouba (Jundubah), Kairouan (Al Qayrawan), Kasserine (Al Qasrayn), Kebili (Qibili), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bou Zid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)

Cities

  • Tunis - the capital of Tunisia
  • Bizerte
  • El Kef
  • Gabes
  • La Goulette
  • Nefta
  • Hammamet
  • Sfax
  • Sousse
  • Tozeur

UNESCO World Heritage list

  • Medina of Tunis - home to some 700 monuments dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
  • Site of Carthage - from the C6th BC to the C2nd BC was the base of a powerful trading empire spanning much of the Mediterranean. Finally destroyed by Imperial Rome who established their own city on the ruins.
  • Amphitheatre of El Jem - beautifully preserved C3rd colosseum, the largest in North Africa. The amphitheater is estimated to have seated up to 35,000.
  • Ichkeul National Park - a freshwater lake and marshland which is the last remaining in a chain that once crossed North Africa. Of importance to migrating wildfowl and included on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996.
  • Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis - abandoned Phoenician city, probably the only example of its kind to remain.
  • Medina of Sousse - part of a trans North Africa coastal defense system, the medina contains many features typical of an early Islamic town.
  • Kairouan - the capital until the 12th century, it long remained the principal holy city.
  • Dougga / Thugga - Thugga is the Punic name for these Roman ruins of 65 hectares. Regarded as "the best preserved small town in North Africa" (World Heritage List inscription).

Other destinations

  • Djerba — a popular tourist destination on a Mediterranean island in the south.
  • Douz — tourist town on the edge of the Sahara where you can hitch a camel ride.
  • Jugurtha's Table — a large mesa with a moon like surface and deep crevasses in the north-west (under Get Out section of El Kef).
  • Matmata — desert village of cave dwellings where Star Wars's Tatooine was filmed.
  • Sidi Bou Said — beautiful seaside town of white houses with blue doors and shutters.
  • Sufetula or Sbeitla — a fairly well preserved Roman town in the mid west.

Understand

Climate

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

Terrain

Mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara desert.

Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m

History

Independence 
20 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday 
Independence Day, 20 March (1956)

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. In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to diffuse 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.

Get in

By plane

Tunisia's main international airport is Carthage International Airport (TUN) near Tunis.

By boat

Ferry services link Tunis to Malta, Trapani (Sicily, Italy), Genoa (Italy) and Marseille (France).

Get around

By train

The national train company SNCFT runs modern and comfortable trains from Tunis south to Sousse, Sfax and Monastir. There are three classes of service, namely Grand confort (deluxe 1st), 1st and 2nd, and all are quite adequate. Example fares from Tunis to Sousse are 12/10/6 dinars in Grand/1st/2nd class.

A light railway also connect Tunis northward to Carthage and Marsa.

Talk

Arabic is the official language of Tunisia and one of the languages of commerce, the other being French — a relic of Tunisia's former status as a French colony until 1956. English is of limited use.

Buy

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Eat

Tunisian cuisine is very much in the Northern African Maghreb tradition, with couscous and tajine stews forming the backbone of most meals. Distinguishing characteristics are the fiery harissa chili sauce and the heavy use of tiny olives, which are abundant in the country. Lamb forms the basis of most meat dishes. Local seafood is plentiful.

  • Shorb Frik - lamb soup
  • Coucha - shoulder of lamb cooked with tumeric and cayenne pepper
  • Tabouna - traditional oven baked bread
  • Brik - very crispy thin pastry with a whole egg (Brik � l'oeuf), parsley and onions and e.g. minced lamb or tuna. Very tasty as an inexpensive starter. Eat it very carefully with your fingers.
  • Berber Lamb - Lamb cooked with potatos, carrots in a clay pot.
  • Merguez - small spicy sausages.
  • Salad Tunisienne - lettuce, green pepper, tomato, onions, olives, radishes mixed with tuna.
  • Tunisian cakes - sweets related to Baklava.

Drink

Being a Muslim country, alcohol availability is restricted to certain licensed (and invariably more expensive) restaurants, resort areas and Magasin General shops.

  • Beer - Celtic is the popular local brand, but some places also carry imported pilsner beers.
  • Wine - Most places that serve alcohol will have Tunisian wine.
  • Boukha - is a Tunisian brandy made from figs.
  • Coffee - served strong in small cups. Tunesian cappuccino is also served strong in small cups.

Stay safe

It is apparently not considered rude for a man to stare at a woman's body which should indicate that modesty will attract less attention.

Travellers report problems being perstered either to buy something or for other purposes. Persistence is a major complaint. Some say that a refusal often results in a bad reaction, "being hissed at" is one example, but those that advise to politely refuse with a smile rarely complain. This seems to be borne out by the reports of sole female travellers who you would expect to receive the most attention, but who often report the least problems (from an admittedly small sample), perhaps because they are more cautious than accompanied females. It certainly seems to be the case that sole female sea bathers attract a good deal of unwelcome attention (even molestation) until a male friend arrives.

Theft of belongings, even from hotel rooms and room safes, is widely reported and the usual caveats apply - keep valuables in a secure place (e.g. supervised hotel safe deposit), do not flash too much cash, and keep wallets, purses and other desirable items where pick pockets cannot reach them. A good recommendation is only to carry enough cash for your immediate requirements and only one credit or bank card, provided you can be assured of the security of your reserves.

Stay healthy

Have all the injections needed for you to travel and stay safely in Tunisia without contracting unwanted diseases or infections etc...

Respect

Tunisia is a Muslim country, and dress code is important, particularly for females. Whilst a lot of skin (even topless) is tolerated on beaches and within hotel complexes, a modest amount of exposed skin may be frowned upon outside these areas.

Contact

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External links