Destination:
Tunisia

Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa by land

Geographically, both the Sahara desert and Atlas mountains played a large role in ancients times. According to Greek legendDido, a princess of Tyre, was the first outsider to settle among the native tribes of what is now Tunisia when she founded the city of Carthage in the 9th century. Also, Tunisia was a Roman province. Vandals occupied the region during the 5th century, with Byzantines taking over during the 6th century, and Arabs following in the 8th century. In 1534, under the command of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, the first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place. Permanent acquisition of Tunisia occurred in 1574, under Kapudan Pasha Uluc Ali Reis, and the Ottomans retained the region until French occupation in 1881.

Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881, and the creation of a protectorate. In 1534, under the command of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, the first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place. Permanent acquisition of Tunisia occurred in 1574, under Kapudan Pasha Uluc Ali Reis, and the Ottomans retained the region until French occupation in 1881. Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881, and the creation of a protectorate. Tunisia became an independent state in 1956. The country’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, established a strict one-party state, and dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In 1987, Bourguiba was declared medically unfit to continue as president and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was his successor. He has won every election since 1987, including his fifth term at the 2009 elections.

On December 17, 2010, a 26-year old street vendor set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official

 This act ultimately jump started the Tunisian revolution. Anger and violence culminated into mass protests of the social and political issues in the country. On January 14, 2011, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down, after 23 years in power, and the government was dissolved. Protests continued on through the remainder of 2011, and on December 12th veteran human rights activist, Moncef Marzouki, was elected president, and a new government was issued thereafter. In December 2014, Beji Caid Essebsi came to office after winning the first free presidential election. Youssef Chahed became the seventh prime minister taking office in August 2016.

Tunisia has few mineral resources and its principal mineral resource was phosphate prior to the discovery of oil. Oil was  discovered in 1964 at El Borma oil field near its frontier with Algeria. One-third of its oil is exported, and the remainder is used by domestic chemical industries. Tunisia is the 14th biggest oil producing nations in Africa and the 61st largest oil producer in the world with a daily production capacity of 59,000 barrels. Exporting is the main source of income for the country. It is ranked as the most competitive economy in Africa and has attracted international companies such as Airbus and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Agriculture employs a large part of the workforce.

Tunisia’s culture is highly diverse, in part because of long periods of Ottoman and then French rule but also because populations of Jews and Christians have lived among a Muslim majority for centuries. Similarly, the capital, Tunis, blends ancient Arab souks and mosques and modern-style office buildings into one of the most handsome and lively cities in the region. Majority of the population is Arab Berber. The Ottoman influence has been particularly significant in forming the Turco-Tunisian community. Arabic is the official language. French came into wider use after independence for the purpose of education. English and Italian are used on a smaller scale.

Cuisine in Tunisia is a combination of French, Arabic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors

Like all countries in the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia offers a “sun cuisine,” based mainly on olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood (a wide range of fish) and meat from rearing (lamb). harissa is a staple side to every Tunisian meal. Popular dishes includes: Tunisian harissa, Fettuccine with fresh seafood and a green harissa dressing, Chicken meatballs with preserved lemon and harissa relish, Grilled red mullet with lemon and celery salad, Fricassee salad with grilled cedar plank salmon, Pasta with bharat-spiced chicken and vegetables, Grilled peaches, apricots and figs with scented yogurt, couscous.

The country is best-known for Malouf, a kind of music imported from Andalusia after the Spanish conquest in the 15th century. The roots of Malouf traditional Tunisian music date back to a Muslim musician composer and poet named Ziryab from Bagdad in Iraq. The term Malouf means “familiar” or “customary”. In Libya also have Malouf music with lyrics dialect differences from the Tunisian one. In Morocco it’s known as Andalusi or Ala music, in Algeria is called Gharnata. Between these countries the Malouf music differs in the melody and rhythmic articulation. Malouf is based on the Qasidah classical Arabic poetry form and also include muwashshah, a post classical more free form. The most important part of the Malouf composition is the Nuba. Modern music festivals in Tunisia include Tabarka Jazz Festival, Testour’s Arab Andalusian Music Festival and the Sahara Festival in Douz.

Landmarks and major tourist sites

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