Top Ten Tunisian Attractions

Top Ten Tunisian Attractions

       Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 square km (64,000 sq mi), with an estimated population of just over 10.4 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the north-east. Tunisia is the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 km (810 mi) of coastline. Both played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the famous Phoenician city of Carthage, then as the Roman province of Africa, which was known as the “bread basket” of Rome. Later, Tunisia was occupied by Vandals during the 5th century AD, Byzantines in the 6th century, and Arabs in the 8th century. Under the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia was known as “Regency of Tunis.” It passed under French protectorate in 1881. After obtaining independence in 1956 the country took the official name of the “Kingdom of Tunisia” at the end of the reign of Lamine Bey and the Husainid Dynasty. With the proclamation of the Tunisian republic on July 25, 1957, the nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba became its first president. The country was governed by the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 to 2011 before he fled during the Tunisian revolution. Tunisia, an export-oriented country in the process of liberalizing and privatizing an economy that has averaged 5% GDP growth since the early 1990’s, had suffered corruption benefiting the former president’s family.Tunisia has relations with both the European Union, with whom it has an association agreement, and the Arab world.Tunisia has established close relations with France in particular, through economic cooperation, industrial modernization, and privatization programs. The government’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict has also made it an intermediary in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

  1. El Djem

           El Djem is a town in Mahdia Governorate, Tunisia, population 18,302 (2004). It is home to some of the most impressive Roman remains in Africa.
    Links: Top Ten Stadiums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphitheatre_of_El_Jem,
  2. Tunis

           Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia’s largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants. Situated on a large Mediterranean Sea gulf (the Gulf of Tunis), behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette (Halq al Wadi), the city extends along the coastal plain and the hills that surround it. At the center of more modern development (from the colonial era and later) lies the old medina. Beyond this district lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, and Sidi Bou Said. The medina is found at the center of the city: a dense agglomeration of alleys and covered passages, full of intense scents and colours, boisterous and active trade, and a surfeit of goods on offer ranging from leather to plastic, tin to the finest filigree, tourist souvenirs to the works of tiny crafts shops. Just through the Sea Gate (also known as the Bab el Bahr and the Porte de France) begins the modern city, or Ville Nouvelle, transversed by the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba (often referred to by popular press and travel guides as “the Tunisian Champs-Élysées”), where the colonial-era buildings provide a clear contrast to smaller, older structures. As the capital city of the country, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life; it is also the centre of the country’s commercial activity. The expansion of the Tunisian economy in recent decades is reflected in the booming development of the outer city where one can see clearly the social challenges brought about by rapid modernization in Tunisia.
    Links: Top Ten Mosques, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medina_of_Tunis,
  3. Carthage

           Carthage is a major urban center that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC. It is currently a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, with a population of 20,715 (2004). The first civilization that developed within the city’s sphere of influence is referred to as Punic (a form of the word “Phoenician”) or Carthaginian. The city of Carthage is located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the center of Tunis. According to Roman legend it was founded in 814 BC by Phoenician colonists from Tyre under the leadership of Elissa (Queen Dido). It became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other’s homeland. Hannibal’s invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy; however, Carthage emerged from the conflict at its historical weakest after Hannibal’s defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. After the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became the Empire’s 4th most important city and the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in AD 698.
    Links: Top Ten Warriors, Top Ten Battles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeological_Site_of_Carthage,
  4. Sousse

           Sousse is a city in Tunisia. Located 140 km south of the capital Tunis, the city has 173,047 inhabitants (2004). Sousse is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The name may be of Berber origin: similar names are found in Libya and in the south of Morocco (Bilād al-Sūs). The city is the capital of Sousse Governorate with 540,000 inhabitants (2005). Its economy is based on transport equipment, processed food, olive oil, textiles and tourism.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medina_of_Sousse,
  5. Kairouan

           Kairouan, also known as Kirwan and Al Qayrawan, is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia. Founded by Arabs around 670, Kairouan is referred to as the Islamic Cultural Capital. During the reign of Caliph Mu’awiya (661-680), it became an important centre for Islamic and Quranic learning, thus attracting a large number of Muslims from various parts of the world, next only to Mecca and Medina. The holy Mosque of Uqba is situated in the city. It is considered by many Muslims to be Islam’s fourth holiest city. In 2003, the city had about 150,000 inhabitants.
    Links: Top Ten Spiritual Destinations, Top Ten Islamic Sites, Top Ten Mosques, Top 100 Islamic Artifacts, Top Ten Islamic Works of Art, Coins, Top 100 African Coins, Top 100 Gold Coins, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairouan,
  6. Dougga

           Dougga or Thugga is an ancient Roman city in northern Tunisia, included in a 65 hectare archaeological site. UNESCO qualified Dougga as a World Heritage Site in 1997, believing that it represents “the best-preserved Roman small town in North Africa”. The site, which lies in the middle of the countryside, has been protected from the encroachment of modern urbanization, in contrast, for example, to Carthage, which has been pillaged and rebuilt on numerous occasions. Thugga’s size, its well-preserved monuments and its rich Numidian-Berber, Punic, ancient Roman and Byzantine history make it exceptional. Amongst the most famous monuments at the site are a Punic-Libyan mausoleum, the capitol, the theatre, and the temples of Saturn and of Juno Caelestis.
    Links:
  7. Kerkouane

           Kerkouane is a Punic city in northeastern Tunisia, near Cape Bon. This Phoenician city was probably abandoned during the First Punic War (250 BC), and as a result was not rebuilt by the Romans. It had existed for almost 400 years. Excavations of the town have revealed ruins from the 4th and 3rd Centuries BC. Around the site where the layout is clearly visible, many houses still show their walls, and the colored clay on the facades is often still visible. The houses were built to a standard plan, in accordance with a sophisticated notion of town planning. A sanctuary has some columns preserved, and in a small atrium parts of mosaics are found. Curbstones, doorsteps, thresholds, and floors of simple mosaic layers are found all over the ruins. Still archaeologists work on the Kerkouane site, but it is believed that the best parts have already been discovered. Kerkouane was one of the most important Punic cities, with Carthage, Hadrumetum (modern Sousse) and Utica.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerkouane,
  8. Ichkeul Lake

           Ichkeul Lake is a lake in northern Tunisia near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The lake and wetlands of Ichkeul National Park are an important stopping-over point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds each year. Among the lake’s visitors are ducks, geese, storks and pink flamingoes. Dam construction on the lake’s feeder rivers has produced major changes to the ecological balance of the lake and wetlands. Because dams have sharply reduced the freshwater inflow to the lakes and marshes, the reedbeds, sedges and other fresh-water plant species have been replaced with salt-loving plants. These changes have produced a sharp reduction in the migratory bird populations, which depend on the mix of plants that used to exist. According to the UNESCO Website, the Tunisian government has undertaken some steps to retain freshwater and reduce salinity, and the lake was removed from UNESCO’s list of World heritage in danger in 2006. However some reports from the World Conservation Union suggest that the salinity has already become excessively high and the possibility for rehabilitation may be rapidly disappearing.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, Top Ten Lakes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichkeul_National_Park,
  9. Links: Top Ten Tunisian Hotels, Top Ten Tunisian Restaurantshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia,