- Continent: Africa
- Area: 163,610 km²
- Population: 10,777,500
- Capital city: Tunis
- ISO code: TN
- National language: Arabic
- International dialing code: +216
- Currency: Tunisian Dinar
- License plate number: TN
- Flight routes from Tunisia: 2490
- Flight routes to Tunisia: 2431
- Popular airports: Tunis (TUN), Djerba (DJE), Enfidha (NBE), Gabes (GAE), Gafsa (GAF), Sfax (SFA), Tozeur (TOE), Monastir (MIR), Tabarka (TBJ)
- Large cities: Tunis, Sfax, Sousse, Kairouan, Bizerte, Gabès, Kasserine, Gafsa, La Goulette, Zarzis, La Mohammedia, Al Marsá, Masakin, Şaqānis, Djerba
- Airlines based in Tunisia: Société Tunisienne de l'Air-Tunisair, TunisAir Express, Nouvelair Tunisie, Jasmin Airways
Tunisia travel guide (Africa)
The Tunisian Republic is an African state in the Maghreb on the Mediterranean coast between Algeria and Libya.
Geography: Tunisia extends from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahara and has a very diverse countryside with steep cliffs on the coast, dense forests in the interior and lowlands and deserts in the south.
Mountains and rivers: the highest point in Tunisia is the Jebel ech Chambi with an altitude of 1,544 m (5065 ft) in the Dorsal mountain range. The longest river in Tunisia is the Medjerda, 450 km (279 miles) in length, with its source in northern Algeria and flowing into the Gulf of Tunisia in the Mediterranean Sea.
Climate and best time to visit: with the exception of the hot and dry Sahara, the climate in Tunisia is Mediterranean throughout the year, characterized by hot summers and mild damp winters. The best time to visit Tunisia is in the spring and autumn as the temperatures at this time of year are more bearable, the wonderful beaches on the Mediterranean coast are not as busy at this time of year.
Language and communication: the official and national language is Arabic; most Tunisians also understand French, additional European languages being understood in the beach and tourist resorts.
Health and vaccinations: vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is no occurrence of malaria in Tunisia. Medical care is good in all larger cities and tourist resorts, however, in most health centers and hospitals, cash must in general be paid immediately after treatment. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. A first aid kit should be packed and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten.
Entry requirements: passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. For stays of three months or less, British passport holders do not need a visa. Some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country. For further information on exact requirements at immigration please contact the
Tunisian Representation in the UK. For more information on vaccination and entry requirements please refer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Arrival and onward journey: the national airline Tunis Air (TU) provides convenient non-stop flights from many European airports to Tunis (TUN), Djerba (DJE), Monastir (MIR), Sfax (SFA), Tozeur (TOE), Gafsa (GAF) and Tabarka (TBJ). Other European airlines such as Lufthansa (LH), KLM (KL), Alitalia (AZ) and Air France (AF) also regularly fly to airports in Tunsia. Within Tunisia, flights are in general provided by Tuninter (UG) a daughter concern of Tunisair, also serving international destinations such as Tripoli (TIP), Palermo (PMO) and Malta (MLA). Advanced booking is recommended particularly in the holiday season as the prices are relatively low and flights often booked out.
Capital city: Tunis, the capital of Tunisia has over 1.5 million inhabitants and is one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean region, but in antiquity was always overshadowed by the much larger Carthage. The cityscape of Tunis is determined by an oriental old town and the starkly contrasting modernity of the European style new town. The old town or medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has existed in its present form since the beginning of the 9th century. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in the Arab world, and has a typically Arab flair: winding lanes with gardens inviting visitors to relax. The Djamaa Ez-Zitouna in the medina is particularly worth visiting. The mosque was built in the style of the Kairouan mosque and is one of the most important in the country. Along with the Djamaa al-Azhar in Cairo, it is considered one of the most important places of learning in the Islamic world. Unfortunately, only a small part of the inner courtyard of this grandiose building is accessible to non-Muslims. Also worth a visit is the souk behind the mosque - it has separate sections specialized to selling particular products and has over the years increasingly focused on tourism. Art aficionados and those interested in archaeological excavations are advised to head for the Bardo Museum. The Bardo is in a former palace of the Husseinide dynasty and possibly has one of the largest and most significant archaeological collections of Roman mosaics as well as relics from prehistoric, Punic and Byzantine times. The French style colonial architecture in the new town is especially impressive along with the numerous cafes and confectionery shops that are besieged during the day by a young hip crowd. Notable in the new town is St.Vincent de Paul’s cathedral as it features a very varied architecture influenced by gothic, Byzantine and North African styles.
Historical sites: there are a great number of antique ruins to be seen all over Tunisia. The most famous and most important historical excavation is in Carthage, where the Phoenician king Dido fought with the Romans for hegemony in the Mediterranean region. During the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, Carthage was the wealthiest and largest city in the Mediterranean and at its zenith was home to more than 500,000 people until, at the end of the third Punic war in 146 BC, the mighty Phoenician sea and trade power was finally forced to surrender to the Romans. This culturally significant site has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1979.
Also of great importance is the city of Kairouan, about 55 km west of the beach resort of Sousse. Ranking after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, Kairouan is the fourth most significant place in the Islamic world and was founded in the year 670 AD by the prophet Mohamed. According to ancient religious tradition pilgrims may travel to Kairouan seven times instead of going to Mecca, of which in particular Muslims from Africa take advantage. The mosque of Kairouan is under the protection of UNESCO and is the most holy city in Tunisia, which receives about 200,000 visitors especially during the Muslim festivals. More important and well-preserved ruins from Punic, Roman and Byzantine times may be seen in Utica, Dougga, Bulla Regia and Sbeitla.
Places of interest and beaches: Tunisia’s breathtaking landscapes are to be found in the center and the south of the country. Exploring the countryside is easily combined with a beach holiday, as there is a wide selection of tour operators who compile and organize interesting tours in the holiday resorts along the Mediterranean coast as well as in Djerba. Alternatively, traveling by bus and train is also very convenient in Tunisia.
The oasis of Gabès is an ideal starting point for tours to the desert, for excursions into the massive dried up salt lakes called "chott“ in Arabic, as well as to the oasis of Gafsa in the interior, is considered the gateway to the Tunisian desert. This wonderful Tunisian desert landscape has often been used as the setting for Hollywood films. In Gafsa, which is enclosed by pink walls and has a thermal spring of 30°C, there are many local travel agents offering day trips to the former filming locations. One of the most famous film locations is near the Berber village of Matmata, well known amongst "Star Wars " fans. Matmana consists largely of a pit in the ground and provides excellent respite from the inhospitable desert heat and the cold, rough winter wind. Other oases of interest in the desert are Tozeur, Nefta and Douz.
Tunisia has a lengthy beach tradition and provides a wide selection of water sport facilities on its 1200 km of coastline. This along with the friendly character of the local inhabitants and the exquisite Mediterranean cuisine with Italian and French influences all provide an ideal setting for a relaxing holiday. Hammamet, only 65 km from Tunis is an example of a famous and popular beach resort on the north coast. The town has first class hotels built in various Moorish styles. The medina and its tower are particularly worth visiting, the tower providing excellent views of the old town and turquoise sea. Also in the north and only 10 km from Hammamet, the small port of Nabeul has good beach facilities. The town of Nabeul was erected on Punic and Oman ruins. Cap Bon is a popular beach resort with a mild sea climate throughout the year and has the added bonus of a varied coastline and countryside. The headland of Cap Bon also has a long bathing tradition and, due to the topographical conditions and the mild climate, is also Tunisia’s main wine growing district. Also worth a visit are the islets of Zembra and Zambretta on Cap Bon, both easily accessible by boat from the nearby town of Sidi Daoud.
The cities of Sousse, Port el Kantaoui and Monastir on the east coast are especially noteworthy. Sousse is the third largest city in Tunisia and has a beach 7 km in length with excellent swimming and water sports facilities. The beach runs the whole length from the small garden city Port el Kantaoui to the marina. Particularly impressive in Sousse is the 2.5 km long city wall that encloses the medina as well as the Kasbah and its ancient battlement parapets, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monastir is 30 km further south and famous for the impressive Ribat dating from the 9th century and developed into a fortress by the Ottomans 700 years later. Besides Ribat, Monastir has two other sites worth mentioning: a showy mausoleum and a mosque in the center of the city both built in honor of the Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba.
Tunisia’s most popular beach resort, in particular for families with children from central Europe, is no doubt the island of Djerba. North Africa’s largest island is in the Gulf of Gabès and is characterized by numerous old olive and pomegranate trees. The main reasons for Djerbas popularity include the wide, long and flat child friendly beaches and the permanent sunshine. Neither should travelers miss visiting the Synagogue of Al-Ghriba (the bizarre), which is 2500 years old and according to ancient tradition, one of the oldest synagogues of Judaism. Every year on the 33rd day of the Passah, the biggest Jewish pilgrimage of North Africa takes place here, visited by Jews from all over the world.
Religion: almost 98 % of the population are Sunnite Muslims. There is also a small minority of Jews and Christians.
Major Cities and accommodation: Tunis, Sfax, Ariana, Sousse, Kairouan, Biserta and Gabès.