The Phoenicians came to Tunisia around 1100BC and quickly set about establishing their capital, Carthage. This capital was located north of Tunis, the current capital of Tunisia, and by the 6th century, it had become one of the main powers in the western Mediterranean.
The Roman Republic was beginning to establish its power during the 3rd century BC, however, while the Carthage Empire was a dominant maritime power, the Romans severely lacked such naval strengths. This caused a great conflict of interests resulting in the Punic Wars that lasted for over one hundred years. The Romans were the eventual victors and Carthage became a Roman city in 44 BC and much of the population was sold as slaves. Tunisia under the Romans was very successful.
Despite its initial success, the Roman Empire began to decline by the 5th century AD. The Vandals, an East Germanic tribe came to the African continent in 429 AD and had managed to capture Carthage by 439. The local Berber population initially staged a rebellion which was put down by the Vandals. However, both the Berbers and the Vandals were eventually defeated by the Byzantines in 533.
Arab merchants and sailors arrived during the 7th century and with them came the spread of Islam. The Arabs had a successful takeover, ruling the land until into the 16th century. The Arabs left the strongest cultural impacts on Tunisia which are still felt today.
Tunisia became an outpost for the Ottoman Empire but maintained a great deal of autonomy. The country remained under the control of the Ottomans until French interest in the region peaked during the “Scramble for Africa” in the 19th century. In 1881, France established their rule in Tunisia and made it a protectorate. The French invested a great deal into the country and improved many areas including transport, industry, and the public health service. Despite these improvements, the French greatly favoured their own citizens who had come to settle in the region, much to the dismay of the local population.
The independence movement in Tunisia was active before the start of the First World but was not achieved until 1956 when Tunisia became a republic. Habib Bourguiba became the first president and laid the groundwork for a stable economy. Under Bourguiba, Tunisia worked to eradicate poverty and established many rights for women. Politics and religion were separated and liberal laws were introduced and Bourguiba abolished polygamy. As a result of these reforms, Tunisia has remained one of the most liberal of all Arabian countries. Zine el-Abidine Ben
Ali took over for Bourguiba in 1987, however, as time passed, it seemed he had a stranglehold over the presidency. He was expected to retire in 2004 but managed to change the constitution to allow himself to run for another two terms. However, protests in early 2011 forced Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his family to flee with an interim government stepping in.
Tunisia is very much a leader in the Arab world regarding the rights of women and its strong trade links with Europe means it has been more prosperous than its neighbours. Approximately seven million people visit Tunisia each year to experience its rich history and beautiful beaches and landscapes. There is a mixture of the old and new, traditional and nontraditional that makes Tunisia an exciting destination for travellers from around the world.
Tunisia Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Tunisia.
Learn about the history and culture of Tunisia, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Tunisia's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Tunisia for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Tunisia tours today!
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