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Official Name Al-jumhuriya at-Tunusiya
Located North: Algeria, Libya
Capital Tunis
Head of State President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
The President
Area 164,150 sq km
Population 9.8 million
Growth rate 1.8%
Language Arabic & French
Currency Tunesian dinar
GNP per capita $1.820
Inflation 6%
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Special thanks to Sonia Guizani for translating this page into French

Tunisia has a rich cultural and social heritage stemming from the many empires that have come and gone in this region. In the last decade, Tunisia has developed as one of the Mediterraneanís major tourist attractions, drawing millions of sun-starved northern Europeans to its shores every year. The Roman Ruins of Carthage is a renowned historical place.

An ideal climate, a long and gentle seacoast, Tunisia, the northernmost country of Africa has for over 3000 years witnessed the passage of Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Turks, Spanish and French. They came as fugitive s or adventurers, to conquer or to claim, warriors and missionaries, traders and farmers each leaving a part of their story in stone or mosaics, on hills of Carthage and the threshold of the Sahara.
Tunis Medina

City hall SFax
Sfax Cityhall
This heritage, Tunisia's greatest wealth has been held in trust and preserved in hundreds of sites and museums from the small Punic museum in Utica to the vast collections of the prestigious National Museum of Bardo. Most Museums are closed on Mondays, whereas many on-site archeological museums and ruins are open all week. An entrance fee is usually charged and a caretaker will often act as guide.


The bustle of Tunisia's lively capital reflects an intriguing fusion of two cultures. Itís a city where 19th century French boulevards and cosmopolitan western-style shops and entertainments rub shoulders with Arab tradition - at its most exotic in the maze-like 13th century Medina of Moorish houses and souks that is amongst the best preserved of its kind in the Islamic world. Nearby are the poignant ruins of Carthage, the Phoenician city rebuilt by Julius Caesar and Augustus to become the third largest city of the Roman Empire.


Phoenicians founded Carthage around 800 BC not far from modern Tunis. It grew into a powerful trading city whose control extended over most of northern Africa, the southern part of Spain, Sardinia, and parts of Sicily where competition with Rome started the Punic wars which led to its total destruction in 146 BC. In 439, the Vandals who had moved south through Spain, occupied the Roman province of Africa until they were overcome by the Byzantine general Belisarius in 533 AD. Around 700, the Arabs completed the conquest of North Africa who was henceforth ruled by a series of dynasties, the Umayyad (700-800, from Damascus), the Aghlabid (800-909, locally), the Fatimid (909-973), the Zirid (973-1048), the Almoravid (1050-1147), the Almohad (1121-1228) and the Hafsid (1228-1574). In the 16th and 17th centuries pirates based in Tunis, Algiers, Tripoli and other corsair bases along the so-called Barbary Coast were blackmailing the maritime nations into paying tribute to safeguard their shipping. The US navy intervened to curb piracy in 1815 and the French conquered and annexed Algeria in 1830. Later, the French invaded Tunisia which became a protectorate in 1881. After World War II, Habib Bourguiba's Neo-Destour party campaigned vigorously for Tunisian independence until it was granted in 1956. Bourguiba's 30 year pro western leadership liberated Tunisian women and modernized the country. He was replaced in 1987 by his Prime Minister Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali who was elected to the presidency in the 1989 elections and again in 1994.

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TUNIS, 8 October 2001: The port of Tunis will handle no more commercial shipping by the end of December this year, under a plan to turn the whole facility into a leisure marina, a government minister said. The harbour in the Tunisian capital will be transformed as part of a scheme to rehabilitate the southern part of the lagoon bordering the city, Minister of Equipment and Housing Slaheddine Belaid told the official media. The overall project has freed up a thousand hectares (almost 2,500 acres) of land open to private investment, with 120 hectares of that area on the edge of the harbour. Belaid said that goods currently stored in warehouses at the port will all be moved out by June 2002, without specifying how much the project would cost. The aim of the marina is to encourage tourism in the Tunis area and clean up crowded and industrial southern suburbs of the capital. An end to commercial shipping is also expected to benefit other Tunisian ports and promote activity in the free zones at Bizerte to the north and Zarzis to the south, where foreign companies enjoy tax benefits.

Last update: 6 August 2009

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