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 STUDY IN  TUNISIA
ABOUT TUNISIA
Education System
STUDYING IN TUNISIA
GETTING TO TUNISIA
LIVING IN TUNISIA
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Study in Tunisia - Living in Tunisia 

 
 
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Social Scene   |   Local customs   |   Accommodation   |   Transportation

Health Care   |   Emergency Contacts

 
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Social Scene

 

Tunisia extends farther north than any other country in Africa. Its northern tip is only 137 kilometres from Sicily, Italy, a part of Europe. Both northern and eastern Tunisia border the Mediterranean Sea.

Tunisia is part of the Arab world, the Mediterranean area, and Africa. Almost all Tunisians speak Arabic and follow an Arab way of life. For hundreds of years, trade routes have connected Tunisia to Africa south of the Sahara.

France controlled Tunisia from 1881 until Tunisia became independent in 1956. Tunisia shows many French influences. Tunis is its capital and largest city.

Tunisia's beaches and historical sites attract an ever-growing number of tourists to the country each year. The number of tourists has risen from 56,000 in 1961 to 5 million in 1999. There has been considerable local and foreign investment in new hotels and resorts. Efforts to increase tourist amenities, particularly in the coastal cities, have been successful in attracting large groups of tourists from Europe.

 

Places to Visit

Barbary Cost
In the 16th century under Ottoman rule, the coastal region of North Africa was known as the Barbary Coast. Tunis was its centre, and the base for piracy against European ships in the Mediterranean.
The name is derived from the Berbers, the oldest inhabitants of the region.

Bizerte
Bizerte is the northernmost city in Africa (64km from Tunis) and the fourth largest in Tunisia. A port city located in the Northern Tell region at Cap Blanc on the Mediterranean coast, it is the country's green belt.
The coast between Bizerte and the Algerian border features steep cliffs, small bays and many secluded beaches. Two thousand years ago this region was the "bread basket" of Rome and many examples of ancient Roman towns can been seen in ruins at Dougga, Bulla, Regia, Chemtou and Utica. Between the 16th-18th centuries, the Italian, Spanish and French Republics were drawn to the region by the rich harvests of coral from the off-shore reefs.

Tunis
Tunis is the capital and largest city in Tunisia. It is situated 10km inland from the Gulf of Tunis on the shores of a lake linked to the Mediterranean Sea. An ancient city whose history goes back to Punic times, Tunis flourished as part of the Roman Empire, and after the destruction of Carthode in the 7th century it became the second city in Afriqiya, a province of the Arab Empire.

Hammamet
Hammamet (pictured), on the Cape Bon peninsula, is one of the best-known tourist resorts in Tunisia. A once sleepy village it now welcomes thousands of tourists every year. Because of the particularly pleasant weather on the peninsula man has occupied the region since the beginning of time -- Berbers, Phoenicians, Arabs, Andalousians and Turks have all lived there and all left their influence. At Kerouane on the northeast side of the peninsula is the best-preserved Punic village in the world, and in recent years archaeologists have made important historical discoveries at Nabeul and Hammamet.

 
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Local Customs

 

Tunis is a modern international metropolis one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the Islamic world. Over the centuries many peoples, including Romans, Vandals, and Arabs have occupied Tunisia.
Tunisians are mostly of Berber lineage, and regard themselves as Arabs.

Arabic is the main language, but French is the dominant language in the media, commercial enterprise, and government departments.

Berber-speaking people form less than 1% of the population. In the tourist resorts shop keepers and hotel staff usually speak three or four European languages. Most cultural activities in Tunisia are in Arabic. However, some festivals or other events that feature artists from different cultures are held in French or English. It is advisable to attend cultural activities even if they are in Arabic since you will discover a new culture and get to know Tunisian artists. The Department of Culture publishes a complete list of Tunisian festivals categorized by field of interest. As well, local theatre in Tunis has performances of excellent quality. Find out more about it and reserve your seat in advance.

The major sporting events that receive the most media coverage in Tunisia are soccer, handball, volleyball, and basketball games. To learn more about these sporting events, watch Dimanche sportive on Sunday evenings. Channel 7 and Channel 21 (for youth) also have interesting shows. To listen to news or French music on the radio, tune in to RTCI (FM 98).

In Tunisia, there are a number of cafés where people meet for a coffee or to play cards, talk, or smoke a hookah pipe. It is recommendable for foreigners go to cafés in the tourist areas (La Marsa, Sidi Bousaid, Les Berges du lac, El Manar, or La Goulette, for example). The National Tourism Bureau has offices throughout the country and can help you find information on cultural events, brochures, or places to visit.

 

Tunisian Stew Rich in Tradition - Video

A wonderful video showing how Tunisian Stew is Rich in Tradition. Narrated in Egnlish by Nooraj of Al Arabiya with Agencies.

Narrated By: Noora Faraj from Al Arabiya with Agencies

Merely a stone's throw away from the Algerian border is the Tunisian town of Nefta.
The large oasis town became a trading hub, with routes spread across the Sahara desert, and over the centuries people of various nationalities and countries contributed to the flow of gastronomic influences.
While villagers now reside in proper houses, they still choose to spend the summer season in the oasis, preparing and savoring a local dish called zitouna.
Berber women cook the lamb in a stew of tomato sauce, onions, and flavor it with hot peppers and olives -- ingredients which have been derived from the Romans, Turks, Arabs and Pheonicians.
Such multicultural influence has distinguished Tunisian cuisine from the rest of its neighbours, and desert gastronomy in particular is deeply rooted in tradition.
Ammar Esseghir says his family visits the oasis on a weekly basis and prefers to cook a meal on a bonfire instead of a gas stove.
Stews have withstood the effects of time and modern preparation methods, and the Berber people are loyal to their traditions even though Tunisia is a rapidly developing country. 

 

Tunisian cooking is a blend of European, Oriental and desert dweller's culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighbouring Mediterranean countries and the many civilizations who have ruled Tunisian land -- Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Turkish, French, and the native Berber.

Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking by what locally made pots and pans they could carry with them. A "Tagine" is really the name of a conical-lidded pot, although today we apply the same word to what is cooked in it.

Unlike other North African cuisine, Tunisian food is spicy hot. There is an old wife's tale that says a husband can judge his wife's affections by the amount of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food. If the food becomes bland then a man may believe that his wife no longer loves him. However when the food is prepared for guests the hot peppers are decreased to suit the more delicate palate of the visitor.

Couscous is the national dish of Tunisia and can be prepared in a dozen different ways. It is cooked in a special kind of double boiler called a couscousiere. Meat and vegetables are boiled in the lower half. The top half has holes in the bottom through which the steam rises to cook the grain which is put in this part. Cooked this way the grain acquires the flavour of whatever is below. The usual grain is semolina. To serve, the grain is piled in the middle of a dish, and the meat and vegetables put on top. A sauce can be then poured over before serving.

Tunisian dishes include authentic lamb or dorado (bream) cous-cous, the fish dishes, tajine and brik or brik à l'oeuf (egg and a tasty filling fried in an envelope of pastry).

Belly dancing is a common cabaret feature and lively local bands often play traditional music.

 
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Accommodation

Hotels: Tunisia has approximately 160,000 hotel beds. There are also several vacation villages within each area. There is a luxury resort in Tabarka which hosts the International Coral Festival of Underwater Photography.

Grading: Hotel accommodation is classified by a star system ranging from deluxe (5-star) to clean but simple (1-star).

Marhalas: Marhalas are converted caravanserais and often consist of several connected underground houses (in Matmata and Ksars - ancient granaries), where sleeping quarters and communal bathing and toilet facilities have been installed. They also have their own simple, but clean and adequate, restaurants. There are Marhalas at Houmt Souk, Nefta and Kairouan.

Camping/Caravaning: Tents can be pitched or trailers parked on beaches and in parks with permission from the property owner or from the nearest police or National Guard station. The major campsites are Le Moulin Bleu (Blue Mill) at Hammam-Plage, 20km (12 miles) from Tunis; L'Auberge des Jasmins (Jasmin Inn) at Nabeul, 65km (40 miles) from Tunis, equipped with showers, wash-basins, toilets, hot and cold running water, shop, restaurant and outdoor theatre in an orange grove; L'Idéal Camping at Hammamet, 60km (35 miles) from Tunis, with restaurant facilities; Sonia Camping & Caravan Site at Zarzis, 505km (313 miles) from Tunis; and The Youth Centre of Gabès, 404km (251 miles) from Tunis (summer only).

Youth Hostels: Youth Hostels are open to all young people who are members of the International Youth Hostel Association. It is recommended to make reservations well in advance, especially for groups. For details, contact the Tunisian National Tourist Office.

 
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Transportation

Air: Tuninter runs regular services seven to eight times a day between Tunis and Djerba airports (flight time – approximately 1 hour). There is a daily flight to Sfax from Tunis Tuesday to Friday, with two flights on Monday. There are flights to Tozeur on most weekdays. Tuninter is represented internationally by Tunis Air (tel: (020) 7734 7644). Prices are reasonable and services are normally heavily subscribed, so it is advisable to book ahead.

Sea: Ferries operate between Sfax and the Kerkennah Islands twice daily, and between Jorf and Jerba Island regularly during the day.

Rail: Regular trains (run by SNCFT) connect Tunis with major towns. The main route is between Tunis and Gabès, via Sousse, Sfax and Gafsa. It is essential to purchase a ticket before boarding the train or double the fare may be charged. Several daily trains run on each route, many with air-conditioned accommodation and a buffet. The superb views of the Selja Gorge can be seen from the Lezard Rouge (Red Lizard), a restored old-fashioned train that runs daily between Metaloui and Redeyef. It is highly advisable to book in advance, if possible, especially for the more popular air-conditioned routes.

Road: Tunisia has an extensive road network. In case of breakdown, the Garde Nationale (National Guard) will assist free of charge (they usually contact the nearest garage). Traffic drives on the right. Bus: The green and yellow coloured national buses, run by SNTRI, are air conditioned and travel daily to most towns across the country. Other services include the intercity buses which are cheap and reasonably comfortable. The destination is written in French and Arabic on the front of the bus. Passengers are allowed 10kg of luggage without additional charge. Each piece of luggage must, however, be registered.

Taxi: Long-distance taxis (usually large Mercedes or similar), called louages, are authorised to carry five passengers. They have no fixed schedule and leave their respective departure points when full. They serve the whole of Tunisia. This is the quickest form of public road transport. There are many louage stations and prices are similar to those of buses and trains.

Car hire: This can be very expensive. To rent a self-drive car, the driver must be over 21 years of age. A full driving licence, which has been valid for at least one year, is acceptable.

Speed limits: 50kph (30mph) in towns; 100kph (60mph) on major highways. Documentation: Log books, valid national driving licences and insurance are essential. Both the RAC and AA are affiliated to the National Automobile Club (NACT) based in Tunis. Insurance valid for up to 21 days can be purchased at the border.

Note: For safety reasons, it is forbidden to drive a car in the Sahara without first contacting the National Guard post at the nearest town, giving the planned itinerary and the expected point of exit from the area. Full provisions, a suitable vehicle and an experienced guide are necessary for any travel in the Sahara.

Urban: A surburban train line (TGM) links Tunis with the northern suburbs. Tunis and Sousse also have a modern and convenient tram system (métro léger). Taxi: Within Tunis and other cities, city taxis are numbered and have meters. The price on the meter is what you should pay. There is a 50 per cent surcharge on night fares. Bicycle: Bicycles and motorcycles are available for hire in most major towns and do not require a licence.

 

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Health Care

1: A yellow fever certificate is required from travellers over one year of age arriving from infected areas.

2: Following WHO guidelines issued in 1973, a cholera vaccination certificate is no longer a condition of entry to Tunisia. However, sporadic cases of cholera do occur in this region and up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination, as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness. See the Health appendix for further information.

3: Vaccination against typhoid is advised.

Food & drink: Mains water is normally chlorinated, and whilst safe may cause mild abdominal upsets. Bottled water is available and is advised for the first few weeks of the stay. Drinking water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated. Milk should be boiled when unpasteurised (ie if not commercially processed and packed). Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised but make sure that it is reconstituted with pure water. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. These precautions should include western-style buffets.

Other risks: Dysenteries and diarrhoeal diseases are common in this region. Hepatitis A is present and hepatitis E is endemic in some areas; precautions should be taken. Lassa fever occurs in rural areas. Mediterranean spotted fever has been reported. Tungiasis is present.
Rabies is present. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay. For more information, see the Health appendix.

Health care: Health insurance is recommended. Tunisia has a well-developed, if somewhat limited, public health service.


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Emergency Contacts

International Telephone Code for Tunisia: 216

Emergency Numbers:

Police 197
Fire Brigade 198
Ambulance 190
Emergency Road Assistance (01) 89 10 00
National Directory Number 120 / 121

 

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Sources: MyTravelGuide.com
 
 
 
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