Key Country Facts
Tunisia has a total of 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites - so there is no shortage of places to see! Also worth note is that the city Kairouan is one of the most important holy cities in Islam, after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
El Jem Amphitheatre, Dougga, Centro storico in Sidi Bou Said
Tunisia’s top exports are insulated wire, pure olive oil, non-knit men and women’s suits, and crude petroleum.
The capital of Tunisia is Tunis and the official language is Arabic. Many Tunisians learn to speak French fluently as well. About 11.11 million people live here (2015) and the main religion is Islam. The time zone is 5 hours ahead of EST.
Travelers should note that the U.S. Department of State warned in early 2017 that U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to southeastern Tunisia along the border, as well as certain mountainous areas in the west. This is a safety measure against the threat of terrorist activity in these areas. It should also be noted that the Tunisian government issued a state of emergency in 2014 as a response to terrorist activity, which gives security forces more power to maintain civil order. This is why a high number military personnel are found throughout the country, especially in tourist areas and near hotels.
In the capital, Tunis, travelers can walk around the Medina to get a taste of the culture, restaurants, and old shops. Stay alert, as some people may approach tourists pretending to be friendly but actually will want to show travelers around in exchange for money at the end. This is a common scam in highly populated touristy areas and is easily avoided by not interacting with these types of people when approached.
One great place to see is the El Jem Amphitheatre, one of the largest amphitheatres in the ancient world. It was built in the 3rd century, making it thousands of years old! It’s about three hours by car from Tunis, so bring lots of water and prepare for a long day. The sights, once there, are incredible. This place is a true must-see and is far less touristy than similar structures found in Europe. Another site with ancient ruins is Dougga in Beja Governorate. The Roman ruins here are absolutely incredible, and no photos do it justice. Spend a couple of hours here and take in the breathtaking views.
Another wonderful part of the country is the Centro storico in Sidi Bou Said. The houses are a beautiful white-and-blue and is a cute village to spend an afternoon in by the crystal blue waters and the nearby Atlas Mountains. Security is really tight in this area, so do not worry if there is a visible military presence there.