Tunisia is a country on the north coast of Africa. Cape Angela is the northernmost point on the African continent. Tunisia is bordered by Algeria, Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of Tunisia is Tunis, which is also its largest city. Other cities in Tunisia include Sfax, Djerba, and Sousse.
The international airport in Tunisia is Tunis-Carthage International Airport. It is possible to explore the country without your own transportation - go by regional bus to most tourist sites, towns, and more. If you need a car or driver for a day, hire one inexpensively.
The currency in Tunisia is the Tunisian dinar. The main economies are agriculture, mining, petroleum, and manufacturing, and those are mostly exported. There is a high percentage of unemployment. In 2011, Tunisia revolted against a lack of political freedom and labour unions; the revolution in Tunisia set off the Arab Spring, a series of revolts in much of Northern Africa. Tunisia is once again stable and generally safe for travellers, although you should take precautions and be respectful of any laws and customs.
Humans have inhabited Tunisia since prehistoric times; today’s Berber Tunisians are descendants of the agricultural tribes that settled here. The coast was settled as early as the 12th century BCE whilst powerful Carthage was founded around the 9th century BCE by Phoenicians. By the 5th century BCE, Carthage was the predominant civilsation in the Western Mediterranean.
In the 2nd century BCE, Carthage was finally conquered by the Romans. There are some beautifully preserved Roman ruins in Tunisia; the amphitheatre in El Djem (3rd century AD) is one such masterpiece. In the late 7th century AD, Arab Muslims conquered Tunisia and began to build exceptional mosques. The Grand Mosque at Kairouan is the oldest mosque in the Maghreb, built in approximately the 9th century AD although the original building dates to much earlier.
By the 16th century, the coast was held by pirates while inland was controlled by the Ottomans and later the French. It was occupied by the Nazis in World War II and governed via France by the pro-Nazi Vichy party. Tunisia was granted independence from France in 1956. Today’s Tunisia is vibrant - a modern Arab capital - although some governments are warning their citizens away. Please check any travel warnings before planning a trip.
The climate in Tunisia is Mediterranean in the north, with mild rainy winters and hot, dry summers. The south of the country is a desert climate. The Atlas Mountains cross the country in the northeast, from Algeria to the Cape Bon peninsula. The remaining geography gives way to a hot central plain and culminates in the Sahara desert. A series of salt lakes cross the northern border of the Sahara desert.
Budget accommodation in Tunisia can be found in Tunis, Sfax, Djerba, Sousse, and other towns. Traditional European-style hostels are rare to nonexistent, however. You will find a lot of resorts, as Tunisia is a popular holiday destination for Europeans, but it is possible to find budget accommodation. Instead of the backpacker hostel, consider a guesthouse or inn.
After you have your accommodation arranged, here are some recommendations on what to see while in Tunisia. In the main city of Tunis, do not miss the many mosques (interiors are off-limits to foreigners at the many working mosques.) The Roman ruins at Carthage provide hours of exploration. Visit the seaside Antonine baths, the amphitheatre, the Magon quarter, and the villas. Next, wander the eerie Sanctuary of Tophet, where its believed children were sacrificed to Baal; archaeologists uncovered thousands of urns containing the ashes of young children. Travellers keen to see more Roman ruins can visit Dougga and El Djem.
Further south, the Berber tribal culture is evident in Douz and Tataouine, where you can see the granaries, ride camels, and explore the Jebil National Park. The history of Tunisia is strong and the culture is rich; explore slowly and let the warm Tunisian hospitality envelop you.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Tunisia hostels. Welcome.