Country Tunisia - information and interesting facts
For Russians, Tunisia is a country of sandy beaches and All Inclusive, some of our tourists prefer not to even go outside the hotel grounds. But in vain, because the country is amazing, something frightening, but terribly attractive. We'll talk about this on this page of our site.
Let's start with a topic that worries the Russians first and foremost, let's talk about the political situation in the country.
The political situation in Tunisia today
Until January 2011, the country was ruled by President Ben Ali, he remained in office for 23 years. Although in his reign the economy grew, Tunisians' living standards increased, his authoritarian rule caused an increase in corruption and discontent with the lack of freedoms.
Mass protests began on December 17, 2010 with the act of self-immolation of street vendor Mohammed Buazizi, suicide forced him to confiscate his goods by the police and humiliation from the side of the official. The unrest led to the flight and, accordingly, the resignation of President Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. Now he lives in Saudi Arabia.
Ben Ali conducted political repression, planting oppositionists in prisons. After its overthrow, all opposition forces came out of the underground, some of the figures were released from prison. The "political leapfrog" has begun. With Ben Ali there were only three political parties, after the revolution there were more than a hundred. This is the usual situation after the fall of the authoritarian regime, in Russia in the early 90's something similar happened.
The people were disoriented: "Who is fighting for what?", "Who from politicians wants what?" And "For whom to vote?". Time passed, but most Tunisians had these questions and remained unanswered. This "political leapfrog" continues even now.
Fortunately, the political struggle is exclusively peaceful - without unrest, without strikes, without large protests. The situation for tourists is favorable, no dangerous events are forecasted. Buy tours to Tunisia without fear, although we do not recommend buying them in advance, you never know what.
Tunisia on the world map
The country is in North Africa. It borders on the west with Algeria, in the east with Libya.
The western part of North Africa is called the Maghreb, which translates from Arabic as "west." So the Arabs called all the lands west of Egypt. The Maghreb region includes Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
It requires a little clarification - North Africa was called exactly "El Maghrib El-Adna", translated as "the lower west". At the time of the Arab conquests, Muslims conquered Spain, which was the "upper west".
In the time of the Arab Caliphate, the territory of Tunisia, the eastern part of Algeria and the western part of Libya was called the word "Ifriya", before the Romans called these lands "Africa", it was this name that gave the name to the whole continent of Africa.
Tunisia is a diverse country in terms of landscape and climate. The coast is dominated by the Mediterranean climate, which is comfortable for tourists. About the climate in the resorts read our review "The weather in Tunisia ".
Part of the country is in the desert, desert climate will get a chance to experience, if you go on an excursion to the Sahara. In the west of the country there are Atlas mountains, heights of up to 1000 meters, snow falls here in winter.
Where did the name of the country come from
In the Russian language the word Tunisia is designated simultaneously by the country and the capital, which creates a certain confusion among tourists. In English and French, the word "Tunis" means only the city, and the country is called in English "Tunisia", in French "Tunisie". By the way, in Spanish the situation is similar to ours, the Spanish word "Tunez" denotes a country and a city at the same time.
It is not known exactly where the name came from, there are many versions. The first assumption that from the Berber root "tns", means "lie down" or "camp". The second interesting version is that the name went on behalf of the goddess Tanith (or Tunit), who was worshiped in Carthage.
Very interesting version, that the name was formed from the word "tuna" or "tun", meaning fish tuna. Of course, tuna is caught here a lot, canned tuna cans - this is one of the best gifts from Tunisia , along with olive oil. It is likely that the country could be called by the name of one of the main export products.
Figures and interesting facts
- The population of the country is almost 11 million people. There are fewer people living in Tunisia than in Moscow.
- The area of the country is 163,600 square kilometers. This is comparable to the area of the Perm region or the Tyumen region.
- Tunisia - the record holder in Africa and the Arab world by the number of students, there are 350-400 thousand of them here.
- Accordingly, Tunisia leads in Africa in terms of the percentage of people with higher education.
- Tunisia has a very small army - only 27 000 people, 84 main and 48 light tanks. The fleet consists of only 25 small patrol ships.
- The police officers (pictured on the right) in the country are much larger than the military. By the way, to do a photo of the police in Tunisia is prohibited.
- The highest point of Tunisia is Mount Jabel ich Chumbi, a height of 1544 meters.
- In Tunisia, very low urbanization, 67% of the population lives in cities. For comparison, in Russia this is 73.7%.
- The average life expectancy of men is 73.2 years, for women it is 77.4 years. For comparison, in Russia 65.9 and 76.7 years.
Tunisia has 1148 kilometers of coastline, which contributed to the development of tourism in the country, the tourism industry will talk in detail.
Tourism in Tunisia
Tourism gives the country 7% of GDP and provides jobs for 370 000 Tunisians. Until 2011, the tourism industry experienced rapid growth, the number of guests arriving annually was already approaching 10 million, but the revolution frightened tourists, and the economic crisis forced many to abandon their vacation at sea for financial reasons. Now in Tunisia arrives 5-6 million tourists a year.
Tunisia boasts several groups of resorts, read about this our review " Resorts of Tunisia ". The largest resort region of the country is the island of Djerba , where about 30% of beach hotels in the country are concentrated, the resort Suss is in second place with 25%, Hammamet in the third with 20%, then Skanes (Monastir) (13%) and Yasmine Hammamet 10%).
The main tourist specialization of Tunisia is beach rest. However, the authorities are eager to develop other areas, they want to fill hotels not only in the summer. Medical tourism has long been thriving, its main driving force is thalassotherapy. Read our review " Thalassotherapy in Tunisia ".
Another priority for the authorities is golf, because golfers prefer just fall and spring, when it's not so hot. The main center of golf tourism in the country was the Port of El Kantaoui , the second center should soon be Yasmin Hammamet, where another 4 golf courses are being built. Another group of tourists interesting for the country is yachtsmen. Almost every Tunisian resort has a marina (a small port for yachts).
And one more important area is excursion rest. Tunisia is rich in sights of the era of the Roman Empire: Carthage , El Jem , Dugga , Udna .
The Arab and Ottoman periods of the history of the country have left their interesting sights: Sidi Bou Said , Medina Sussa, Medina Hammamet , Kairouan, Medina of Tunisia . There are 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country. The authorities are trying to create conditions for winter sightseeing tourism, but the results so far are modest.
Holidays in Tunisia have many other advantages. Tunisian alcohol is superior in quality to alcohol in hotels in Turkey or Egypt. The variety of dishes at the Swedish tables by the All Inclusive system is more than in the above-mentioned countries-competitors. Sandy beaches are considered one of the best in the Mediterranean.
Another advantage is very appreciated by Europeans, everything is cheap here: taxis , food in shops , cafes and restaurants, public transport and other services. For Russians, this advantage is not so obvious, as the prices for most goods and services in Tunisia are comparable to those in Russia. Read more in our review " How much money to take to Tunisia ".
Weak points of the tourism industry in Tunisia are called a narrow set of entertainment facilities. There are only three large water parks in the resorts: Flipper , AquaSpleash and Aqua Palace . In South Tunisia there are no water parks at all. Other interesting sites: Carthage Land Park , Phrygia Zoo and Crocodile Farm on Djerba, that's all.
For Russian tourists there are advantages: a short flight to Tunisia and a visa-free regime. The main disadvantage for Russians is the very poor knowledge of the Russian language by Tunisians. Often, in hotels there is simply no staff who speak Russian fluently. In this case, only the hotel guide will help.
Another disadvantage for tourists from Russia is that there are no direct regular flights between our countries, which makes an independent holiday in Tunis difficult.
In Tunisia live the Arabs. Are they Arabs? (population)
Officially, the nationality of residents is called - "Tunisians", but they themselves identify themselves as Arabs. They speak the Tunisian dialect of the Arabic language.
Genetic studies show that the average Arab resident is only 20%, and most of the genes are from Berbers and other indigenous peoples of North Africa. Also there are genes markers from Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Spaniards, Italians, Turks, French. The Tunisian genes reflect the rich history of Tunisia as well as Tunisian ceramics .
There is an admixture of Russian blood in Tunisia. During the Second World War, the Germans sent 50,000 Soviet prisoners of war here as a cheap labor force for the construction of field facilities and other hozrabot. Most of our compatriots died of exhaustion and disease, but several thousand fled and dissolved in the country's countryside.
Before attaining independence, many Europeans lived in Tunisia - about 500,000, but they left the country in the next decade after Habib Bourguiba came to power. Since the 6th century BC. in the country lived a large Jewish diaspora, most of all Jews lived on the island of Djerba. As of 1948 there were 105,000 of them. But with the formation of the State of Israel, they left there, now there are only 900 people left.
To whom do the Tunisians pray (religion)
The new constitution of January 26, 2014 guarantees religious freedom to all Tunisians, except one person! The president of the country is obliged to be a Muslim.
The Constitution declares Islam as the state religion, but it separates politics from religion, the creation of political parties on religious grounds is prohibited. The change of religion is not officially forbidden, although in practice there is public pressure in case of transition from Islam to another religion.
In Tunisia, the state controls religion, for this purpose in 1988 a special law was passed. The President appoints the supreme mufti of the country. All mosques are state property, servants of mosques receive a salary from the budget, any activity in mosques is allowed only in case of prayers or events (weddings, funerals), in the rest of the time mosques should be closed. These are measures against religious extremism.
After the revolution, the control weakened. In October 2011, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced that it no longer controls more than 400 mosques. But in 2015, there were attacks by Islamists, in which 12 soldiers were killed. The government "took hold of the head," religion was immediately taken back under control. Two religious radio stations and one TV channel were closed, 157 religious organizations were closed. The mosques again took control.
Despite all these efforts, in 2015 there were famous sad events at the resort of El Kantaoui (Sousse), which dealt a crushing blow to the country's tourism industry.
Four Islamic holidays are national: Kurban-bairam (Eid al-adha), Uraza-bairam (Eid al-Fitr), Muharram and Mawlid.
The norms of Sharia in the country's legislation are almost not present. They are used only in family law. But there is an important nuance, in the criminal code there is an article "violation of morality and morality", you know, you can treat it as you like. It is for this article that all violations of religious laws are punished: being in a public place drunk, public use of alcohol, homosexuality and many more. We recommend reading our article " What not to do to tourists in Tunisia ".
What do the Tunisians (the economy)
In 2009, at the World Economic Forum, the country was named the most competitive economy in Africa.
The economy is diversified, that is, it does not specialize in one particular industry. The economy is export-oriented, Tunisia is a major exporter of olives and olive oil, tuna and other fish and seafood, dates and other agricultural products, fabrics and clothing, footwear.
The country's GDP is 41 billion US dollars, nominal GDP is 82 billion dollars. 18.3% of the population works in agriculture, 31.9% in industry and 49.8% in services.
An interesting fact is that the product that brings the most money to the country's exports is not olive oil, dates or fish, but the wires for cars are 1.66 billion dollars of export value, and second place is for olive oil - 942 million , at the third men's clothing - 862 million.
The most democratic Arab country (politics and power system)
On January 26, 2014, a new constitution was adopted, Tunisia is now recognized as the only full-fledged democracy in the Arab world. Already in October 2014 the first elections were held under the new system, and on November 23, 2014 the election of a new president was held, it was Beji Kaid Es-Sebsi.
The president of the country is elected for 5 years, he appoints the prime minister and the government. The country's parliament is called the "Assembly of People's Representatives", it consists of 217 deputies.
In Tunisia, a record number of women in politics for Arab countries, before the overthrow of Ben Ali, 20% of seats in parliament were for women, now 31%.
Tunisia is the only country in the Arab world where polygamy is prohibited by law. Women have the right to transfer citizenship to children. All these rules are spelled out in the "Personal Status Law", adopted on the initiative of Habib Bourguiba in 1956, is the most progressive law in the Arab world.
Wilayas, what is it? (Administrative division)
Tunisia is divided into 24 wilayas - these are the provinces of the country, they are also called by the old habit of "governorship". The vilayets are divided into mutamadiyats (districts), all of them in the country.
The largest wilayet in the population is Tunisia, the capital of the country with a population of 1,050,000 people, it is also the smallest in the area - only 288 square kilometers. The second in the population is the Sfax vilayet.
The largest by area, Tatooine (38,900 sq. Km.) And it is almost the smallest in population (150,000 people). Almost, since there is still Taseur (100,000 people). These two vilayets are in the Sahara Desert.
Tourists often visit the vilayets: Nabeul (the resorts of Nabeul , Hammamet and Yasmine Hammamet), Sousse (Sousse and El Kantaoui resorts), Monastir (Skanes resort), Mahdia ( Mahdia resort), Midenin (Djerba island and Zarzis resort).
We recommend reading about our other articles on Tunisia: " What surprises tourists ", " What shock tourists ", " Money of Tunisia " and others ( list of links below ).
Read about Tunisia on our website