TOP-50 interesting facts about Tunisia and Tunisians
Tunisia is an Arab country with many similarities to its neighbours. But at the same time, it is a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. The article includes 50 interesting facts about Tunisia and its people, which can help you create a first impression of the country and help you plan your holiday in Tunisia.
50 most amazing facts about Tunisians and Tunisia
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
Facts of History
1. The most ancient human settlements on this land originated more than 200 thousand years ago. Their remains are found in the north of the country.
2. Phoenicians appeared in Tunis about 3 thousand years ago. Brave seafarers and traders founded several cities here, including Sousse and Carthage.
3. Carthage was the capital of the Phoenician colonies. In its prime years it ruled Spain, Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily.
4. The famous Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage ended in defeat for the African power. A Roman city was built on the site of the former capital.
5. After that, Carthage never achieved the same greatness. It was part of Byzantium, then ended up captured by the Arabs.
6. After the Arabs, Tunis was ruled by the Ottomans, but the French soon established a protectorate over the country. They ruled the country until the middle of the 20th century.
7. In 1956 Tunisia became an independent republic. The first president of the country, Habib Bourguiba, ruled it for more than 30 years and was deposed during the First Jasmine Revolution in 1987.
8. The country’s second president, Ben Ali, was also ousted in the Jasmine Revolution, but in 2011.
9. Modern Tunisia has the most progressive constitution of any Arab state. It not only establishes freedom of religion, but also gives equal rights to men and women.
10. In 2021, Najla Boudin Rommdan, the Prime Minister, was a woman, something never before seen in the Arab world.
11. The country has officially abolished polygamy and enshrined it in the Constitution.
12. Tunisia’s economy is now based on agriculture, with tourism coming in second place. The tourism industry employs 12% of the country’s population.
13. Tunisia now has a population of nearly 12 million, but it is still the smallest Arab country in Africa.
14. Genetic research has revealed that modern Tunisians are only 20% Arab and 60% Berber. There are Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Turks and even Slavs mixed in their blood.
15. You won’t see any traffic lights anywhere in Tunisia, except on some central streets of the capital city. There aren’t many cars, either.
16. Tunisia has many historical and cultural monuments, many of which are ruins. But even there, you should not pick up ancient stones – you can be severely punished for doing so.
17. Carthage is considered the country’s main attraction. Its ruins are about 15 kilometres north-east of the capital Tunis. Little remains of the original city, which was razed to the ground by the Romans. But the Roman period is better represented.
18. The oldest museum in the country is the Bardo, located in the capital. It was founded in 1885 and contains a rich collection of Roman mosaics, antique and medieval artefacts.
19. one of the points of interest on the island of Djerba is the old synagogue. It is over 2500 years old and contains the world’s oldest Torahs.
20. Another place of interest is the village of Gellala, which means Pot. There are hundreds of pottery workshops, where pottery is still made according to the recipes of ancient craftsmen.
21. The town of Kairouan is a sacred site for Muslims. Legend has it that three hairs from the beard of the Prophet Mohammed are kept here, and three pilgrimages to Kairouan are equal to one visit to Mecca.
22. The town of Sidi Bou Said is known for its snow-white walls of houses and blue roofs. The film «Angelica and the Sultan» was filmed in one of its mansions.
23. The southernmost Vilayet of the country, Tatawin, is known as the filming location for the Star Wars space saga. The desert planet of Tatooine, lost in a galaxy far away, took its name.
24. The village of Matmata in the Sahara is home to houses carved into the rock. It is home to true troglodytes, people who «live in a cave».
Character and traditions of the Tunisian people
25. Islam in the country allows significant indulgences for its followers. In Tunisia, for example, it is common to see local men drinking alcohol. There’s even the only wine festival in the Arab world, in the town of Grombalia.
26. Tunisian moonshine is called «Bukha» and is distilled from figs. Bukha does not contain grapes and grains, which is why it is believed that even Muslims can sometimes drink it.
27. However, one should not forget that Tunisia is a Muslim country. It is forbidden to walk around the city dressed in a provocative manner, to photograph people without their consent, and to drink alcohol in the street.
28. The long-standing rule of France is still felt in the country. Here you will often address people as «Monsieur» or «Madame», and all business negotiations are conducted in French.
29. The highlight of the local cuisine is the harissa sauce. It’s made from chilli peppers and garlic and added to all dishes. According to a local proverb, a wife’s love for her husband is measured by the amount of harissa in her meal.
30. Tunisians are friendly people, but with an oriental mentality. They don’t think it’s shameful to deceive an uninformed tourist and sell him something at exorbitant prices. The minimum wage in Tunisia is only US$130.
31. Tourists are advised not to buy souvenirs in the first few days. Merchants see unsunned people and immediately raise the price.
32. In Tunisia, you can pick your own fruit, even from the trees. You must ask the gatekeeper of the grove, who will rarely refuse you.
33. In Tunisia, trading is considered a man’s occupation; in fact, it is very rare to see a working woman here. It is said that if a woman works after marriage, she has married a bad man.
34. Tunisians say hello to everyone who comes in. It is considered as a rule of good manners, as well as the ability to be polite. Tunisians don’t like scandal and noise.
35. According to the local laws, no one owns the beach area three meters from the surf line. That’s why even on the beaches of the hotels you can find vendors and camel owners.
36. The unbearable heat makes life difficult for Tunisians. In summer, the working day starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m.
37. A Tunisian traditional wedding lasts seven days and only on the last day the bride meets the groom.
38. One of the wedding traditions of Tunisians is jasmine rings, according to legend, such a talisman makes a marriage strong.
39. The locals use a branch of date palm to make a declaration of love, but they tie a bunch of jasmines around it too.
40. You can tell whether a Tunisian is single or married by the jasmine flower behind his ear. Married men wear the flower behind their right ear, and single men behind their left ear.
41. Tunisia has the institution of divorce, but once it is arranged, the ex-husband is obliged to support his wife until she remarries.
42. One of Tunisians’ favourite pastimes is camel racing. It is traditionally held in the city of Duz as part of the Sahara Festival. There are only one-humped camels here, which the locals treat as friends.
43. The Sahara now occupies most of the country’s territory. But it wasn’t always like this. Until 8,000 years ago, the great desert did not exist, but in its place was fertile land.
44. There are several picturesque oases in the country, the largest of which is Chebika, called the Castle of the Sun in Arabic. There is a real palm grove and a lake with a small waterfall.
45. Jasmine is considered the symbol of Tunisia. This beautiful flower is present in every corner here and is used in aromatherapy, added to drinks and cakes.
46. The desert rose, a crystal made of salt and sand, is considered another symbol of the country. It grows like a real plant and can reach a height of 3 metres.
47. There are many date palms growing in the country, but the fruit itself is almost completely exported and difficult to buy. The most famous variety of date is the «Fingers of Light».
48. There are many cacti in the state, and they often grow to the height of a man. The locals use the cacti as a hedge, and the fruits of the opuntia are considered a delicacy.
49. In the north of the Republic are the real mountains, the Atlas Mountains. Their highest peak Shambi rises to 1,544 metres above sea level.
50. There are several picturesque salt lakes in the country, the largest of which is El Garça. It covers 1,300 square kilometres, but in hot weather the lake can dry up completely.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Tunisia and Tunisian people, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would be happy to learn more. We would be very grateful!