STATE AND LOCATION
Tunisia became independent of France in 1956 and a year later it proclaimed itself a republic. Country’s capital is Tunis which is also the most populated city in the country. its 164,150 sq. km wide. Languages used in Tunisia are Arabic (official) and French. In tourist centers also English and German are used. Main religion is Islam (98% are Arab Sunni Muslim). Tunisia is located in North Africa on Mediterranean coast, between Algeria and Libya.
ECONOMY AND CURRENCY
Tunisia is a lower-middle economy. Today Tunisia has strong economic ties with European Union. Country’s economy is based on agriculture, mining and energy sector as well as tourism. In 2017, Tunisia’s GDP was 39.88 billion USD. Last year (2017) the unemployment rate was app. 13%. The government is increasing the foreign investments and tries to decrease the unemployment.
The currency in Tunisia is Tunisian dinar. The rate is app. 1 TND = 0,30 € (Nov 2018). It is not allowed to bring or take the currency to/from the country. Euros and other western currency can be exchanged in dinars in money exchange offices, posts and banks. It is good to have small amounts of cash while travelling. It is polite to pay 5-10% tip while eating in the restaurant. According to country practice gratuity is being paid also for porters, cleaners as well as for tour drivers. Bargaining is part of shopping practices in Tunisia. Cash can be drawn out through ATMs which can be found in bigger cities and airports.
Tunisian population is mainly Berber ancestral origin. Ottoman influence has been significant in forming the Turco-Tunisian community. There have always been other peoples who have migrated to the country during the ages. These include Sub-Saharan African, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Phoenicians (Punics), Jews, French, Byzantines, Arabs, Andalusians and Spaniards, Ottoman, Turks and Italians. Tunisia’s population is 11,5 million.
WIFI AND CALLS
Many cafes and restaurants offer free wi-fi connection to their customers. Tunisian ADSL connections cover nearly the whole country and they are using older 2G network as well as 3G mobile network. 4G packages and gadgets, USB modems, are offered by local telephone operators. There are three operators in Tunisia: Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisia.
The number of travelers has grown in the last two years. Despite the increasing tourism to the country we recommend to follow authority and local foreign ministries’ advices where to travel. It is good to avoid travelling in two counties, Kasserine mountain areas and El Borma facing Algerian border as well as the southern parts of Tataouine and Zarzis which are close to Libyan border.
Food and water safety. It is always good to remember hygiene when traveling in any country. There are some basic rules which may prevent problems which are food or water – borne. Remember to wash your hands properly with soap, pay attention where you buy your food, eat only well-cooked and hot food while eating in a restaurant, peel, remove the casing or wash with treated water when eating fruit, nuts or vegetables and use bottled water. Don’t eat raw or poorly cooked meat, unpasteurized dairy products etc.
MOST VISITED CITIES
According to TripAdvisor, most visited cities in Tunisia in 2018 are Tunis, Hammamet, Sousse, Djerba Island, Midoun and Monastir. In the following we introduce some of these cities.
Other well-known and frequently visited cities and destinations are Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, El Djem, Kairouan and Port El-Kantaoui.
The hottest weather is in August, while the average temperature in the country is +27c but may rise over +40c in many areas. The coldest temperature is in January with the average temperature of +12c.
Every season offers something interesting for the travelers which is the strength of Tunisia. Many golf players move to Tunisia for winter because of the suitable Mediterranean climate.
NATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
Friday is celebrated as a national religious holiday even if the official religious day is Sunday. During Ramadan there might be some restrictions in restaurant and shop opening hours. National holidays are e.g. Prophet Mohammad’s birthday on 1st December, New Year 1st January, Independence Day of Tunisia 20th March and Day of Martyrs 9th April. National and religious holidays are based on lunar calendar and therefor the dates of these holidays vary annually.
It is good to cover one’s shoulders and knees while moving in public places and respect local habits by proper clothing. It has to be paid attention especially while visiting religious sites. Swimsuits can be worn in hotel beaches and pools.
DRINK AND FOOD
It is recommended to use bottled water – also for washing teeth. It is also good to avoid ice cubes because they are rarely made of bottled water. Tunisian bottle water brands are e.g. Aïn Garci, Bulla Regia, Cristal, Fourat, Jektiss, Maïn, Melina, Palma, Primaqua and Sabrine.
Grocery stores are often open from 9 to 22, some local shops can be open later. Basic groceries are more affordable in Tunisia than in Nordic countries. The meat that is available is usually bull or lamb due to religious reasons, but fish and chicken are also used.