Office National du Tourisme Tunisien
1, Avenue Mohamed V
Tunis, Tunisia
Tel. 341077 - Cable: ONTT, Telex: 14381
Fax: 350997


Physical geography

Tunisia lies at the northernmost tip of Africa, 90 miles (140km) from Sicily and 125 miles (200km) from Sardinia, bounded by Algeria (west), Libya (southeast), the Mediterranean Sea (north and east - 800 miles coastline). It is the smallest North African state (63,099 sq. miles, or 164,150 sq. km).

It is traditionally divided into four natural regions:

  • the North: crossed from west to east by the continuation of the Atlas Mountains; the area of the highest rainfall;
  • the Sahel: coastal zone stretching from Cape Bon to Sfax;
  • the Centre: zone of steppe country separated from the north by a mountain range, the Djebel Chambi;
  • the South: predesert and the Sahara.


The climate varies from 11°C in January to peaks of 26/27°C in July.

Economic geography

GDP growth averaged 5.3 per cent per year between 1962 and 1994. Manufacturing industries and tourism have important shares in GDP and in exports.

Manufacturing industries - 20 per cent;
Non- Manufacturing industries - 13 per cent;
Agriculture and fishing - 16 per cent;
Transport and communications - nine per cent;
Tourism - seven per cent;
Others - 35 per cent.


In 1984, the population was 8,785 million, whereof over 1,828 million were living in the capital Tunis.

A brief history

Original population: Berber. Phoenicians built trading posts on the coast (12th century BC). In 814 BC Princess Elyssa of Tyre (Queen Dido) founded Carthage, soon the greatest of Mediterranean cities. Destroyed by Rome (146 BC). Rebuilt, it remained the capital of the Roman Provincia Africa (present-day Tunisia) until 436 A.D. Occupied by Vandals from Northern Europe (436534 AD). Part of the Byzantine Empire (534-670). Predominantly Christian until the appearance of the first Arabs (670). By the end of the eighth century all Ifriqiya (the Arab name for Tunisia) was converted to Islam. Protectorate of Spain (1534-1575). Country ruled by the Turks as part of the Ottoman Empire (1575-1881). Protectorate of France (1881-1956). At last independent, Tunisia was proclaimed a Republic (25 July, 1957) with Habib Bourghiba its president. On 4 November 1987 Zvivelabbidure ben Ali was proclaimed second President of Tunisia.


Islam is the official religion. But there is complete freedom of worship, as witnessed by the many synagogues throughout the country.

Languages spoken by nationals

Arabic is the national language. French taught in all schools is widely understood and spoken. Business languages are French and English.


GMT plus one hour.


The monetary unit is the Tunisian Dinar divided into 1,000 millimes, one pound sterling = approx 1.490 DT.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year's Day - 20 March, Independence Day -21 March, Youth Day - 1 May, Labour Day - 25 July, Republic Day - 13 August, Woman's Day.

Moslem holidays vary according to the lunar calendar.

What one should not fail to see

Tunis: National Bardo Museum (superb collection of Roman mosaics); old Arab Medina with Great Mosque (ninth century), souks and Dar Hussein (Islamic Art).

Sidi Bou Said: Picturesque village overlooking Tunis Bay - a photographer's paradise.

Kairouan: Great Mosque (ninth century), Islamic Museum - mosques, marabouts, medersas - Tunisia's holy city.

Sousse: Ribat (ninth century), excellent museum of Roman and Punic art, Arab Medina, Great Mosque, El Kantaoui: Garden Harbour of the Mediterranean (golf course of 18 holes covering 73 hectares, a marina which can receive more than 300 boats).

Monastir: Ribat (fortress monastery) with Sound and Light performances in summer. Large convention hall.

Sfax: Medina, Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions, etc.

Punic Ruins: Carthage, Kerkouane, Dougga, Utica.

Roman Ruins: Carthage, Dougga, Thuburbo Majus, El Djem (coliseum), Maktar, Sbeitla, Bulla Regia, Utica.

Oases: Gabes, Gafsa, Tozeur, Nefla, Kebili, Douz.

Chotts: Djerid - largest salt lake in Africa. Further South: cave dwellings and ksars, and the Sahara (tours by Land Rover or on camels).

Djerba: Houmt Souk (fort and museum). Synagogue of La Ghriba (a spot holy to Jews since their exile from Babylonia) and Jewish villages. Guellala (potters).

Traditional Tunisian entertainment: Folk dances and music Fantasias (exhibitions of Arab horsemanship). Outdoor 'mechoui' parties (barbecues).

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

All year long. The country's mild climate is ideal for sightseeing in autumn, winter and spring - and for lying on the beach in summer. No fog. No snow (except on rare occasions in the northern mountains). October-April for the Sahara and the Far South.

How to dress

Summer clothes, bathing suits, a jacket for cool evenings (May-September). Add sweaters, slacks and an all-weather coat (October-April). Be prepared for possible rare showers (mid-September-mid-June). Cold in the desert after dark - sweaters and slacks.

Central heating in all hotels open in the winter. Air conditioning in many. Take along sports equipment.

Main holiday resorts

Tunisia's hotels are built on long stretches of gently sloping beaches, ideal for non-swimmers and swimmers alike.

Beach Resorts: Hammamet, Nabeul, Sousse, Monastir, Djerba, Zarzis, Tunis' Suburbs (Gammarth, Carthage), Bizerta, Tabarka, etc. Oasis Hotels with swimming pools: Douz and Tozeur, near the desert.

Tunis within easy reach of the beaches, excellent city hotels (some with swimming pools).

Main holiday sports

Water sports: swimming, sailing, water skiing, etc.

Underwater fishing: off rocky coasts near Korba, Korbous, Tabarka, Monastir, Island of Djerba. Land sports: Tennis courts, golf and minigolf courses at El Kantaoui station and many hotels. Table tennis. Riding (horses and camels). Bird watching (over 400 species). Eight golf courses: Nammamet (two), Carthage, Souz, Monastir (two), Tabaka, Djerba.

What to eat and drink

Menus in hotels and restaurants feature not only familiar European cooking but couscous, chorba, brik à l'oeuf, tajine, chachouka and many other Tunisian specialities.

Tunisian wines: Excellent and too numerous to list, white, rose, European wines. Boukha, distilled from figs - Tunisian brandy.

What to buy

Handwoven rugs, wall hangings, blankets, etc. Pottery, carved wood, brass and copperware, silver jewellery, forged iron, laces, embroidery... and much more. The Office National de l'Artisanat selects objects of superior workmanship which are sold in its stores (Tunis, Sidi Bou Said, Monastir, Kairouan, Houmt Souk (Djerba), Gabes. Fixed prices. Ten per cent reduction if paid in foreign currency. The ONA also grades all rugs.

Frontier formalities

Passport - On entry a valid passport is obligatory.

Visas - Algeria, Morocco: no visa required for an unlimited stay.
- Germany, USA: no visa required for a stay not exceeding four months.
- Antigua, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Fiji Islands, Finland, France, Ghana Gibraltar, Great Britain, Guinea, Holland, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Montserrat, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Romania, St Helen, Spain, Pakistan, San Marino, San Vincent, Senegal, Seychelles, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, Yugoslavia: No visa required for a period of two months or less.
- Greece, Hong-Kong: no visa required for a period of one month or less.
- Bulgaria: no visa required for a period of two months or less.

For all other countries: valid passport with visa. Cruises: No visa required for a three-day stop-over on condition that the list of passengers who wish to land is communicated to the Office of National Security management eight days prior to arrival.

Health regulations

No vaccination certificate is required on entry except for travellers coming from regions declared infected.

Customs formalities

Personal effects and certain objects may be brought in duty-free (camera - tobacco - bicycle - car). It is prohibited to import certain products (narcotics) or publications (pornographic). Temporary entry of husting arms is subject to authorisation. The import and export of gold is strictly forbidden except for personal jewellery weighing less than 500g.

Currency regulations

Tunisian dinars may not be imported or exported. No limit on import of foreign currencies, which may be exchanged at the point of arrival, in hotels and certain banks. Upon leaving Tunisia, one may exchange up to 100 dinars, as long as this sum does not exceed 30 per cent of the total foreign currency exchanged into dinars, as shown by bank exchange receipts.

Important: All bank exchange receipts should be kept carefully! Large sums of cash brought into Tunisia should be declared on arrival, if one wishes to take them out of the country.

Main travel routes

By air: six international airports: - Tunis Carthage (Tunis) - Skanes Monastir (Skanes) - Sfax (Sfax) - Jerba/Zanis (Jerba) 1° - Tozeur Nefla (Tozeur) - Tabarka, 7 Novmeber.

By rail: daily service from Tunis to Bizerta, Tabarka, Sousse, Sfax, Gabes, etc. (Long-distance train travel is slower than travel by road) Frequent commuter service to the southern and northern suburbs of Tunis.

By road: inter-city bus services. Quicker are the 'louages' (taxis going back and forth between two towns - five passengers - leaving when filled). There is an excellent road network.


A few of the many local festivals: Regional Festival (folk music and dance), Sousse, March - Orange Tree Festival, Nabeul March-April - Falconry Festival, El Haouria, May - Plays in Roman Theatre, Dougga, June - Horse Races, Medenine, June - Malouf (classical Tunisian music), Testour, June - Aoussou Festival (folk music and dance), Sousse, July - Amateur Cinema Fetival (every second year), Kelibia, July - Fantasia Festival (horsemanship, etc), Agareb, end of July - International Festival (jazz, dance, theatre, etc), Carthage, Hammamet, Monastir, HammamLif, Ariana, Bizerte, Tabarka, July-August - Folk Music and Dance Festival, Sidi Mansour (Sfax), September - Cinema Festival (African films) (every second year), Carthage, October - National Festival of the Sahara, Douz, end of December.

List of representatives abroad

AUSTRIA: Tunesisches Fremdenverkehrsamt, Landesgerichstrase 22,1010 Wien. Tel: 52 02 08. Telex: 1379 TUAIRA.

BELGIUM: Bureau du Tourisme Tunisien, Ravenstein 60, 1000 Brussels. Tel. 511 11 42, Fax: 511 3600

CANADA: Montreal 1153, McGill College, Bureau 655, Montreal, Quebec. H3B 2Y5. Tel: (514) 397 1183. Fax: 397 1647.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Sokolska 39, 12000 Praha 1. Tel: 4 22/2423 18 24 67, Fax: 42 22 42 319 05.

FRANCE: Bureau du Tourisme Tunisien, Av. de l'Opera 32, 75002 Paris. Tel: 47 42 72 67, Fax: 47 42 52 68.

GERMANY: Tunesisches Fremdenverkersburo, am Hauptbahnhof 6, Frankfurt. Tel. 0609 231 891, Fax: 0609 232168.

GREAT BRITAIN: Tunisian Tourist Office, 7a Stafford St., London W1, Tel. 0171 224 5598, Fax: 0171 224 4053.

ITALY: Centro Turistico della Tunisia, Via Baracchini 10, 20122 Milano. Tel. 86 45 3044, Fax: 86 45 27 52.

NETHERLANDS: Toeristenbueau voor Tunesie. Muntplein 2, III, 1012 WR Amsterdam. Tel. 622 49 71, Fax: 638 3579.

SWEDEN: Tunisiska Statens Turistbura, Stureplan 15, 11145 Stockholm. Tel. 678 0645, Fax: 678 1905.

SWITZERLAND: Tunesisches Fremdenverkehrsburo, 69 Bahnhofstrasse, 8001 Zurich. Tel. (01) 211 48 30/31, Fax: 212 1353.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on TUNISIA thanks to the co-operation of the Office National du Tourisme Tunisien in Tunis.