TUNIS THE CAPITAL OF TUNISIA --
THE GRAND NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE.
Tunisia is more or less the size of England. It lies on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. The more fertile country is in the north and east and behind this area a plateau rises to the 1,500m Atlas Mountains. Between the fertile land and the Sahara Dessert are the salt pans which are named Chott Djerid.
On a whole the climate is warm and dry. However, there is still a difference between the milder Mediterranean climate in the north and the much hotter south.
On the northern hills are forests growing of oaks and cork trees. In the area of the Mediterranean climate are wheat, grapes and olives grown. The Sahara desert is only for growing date palms and only near oasis. Lately an experiment of growing tomatoes and melons using the hot springs was very successful and adding to the economy.
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In 1956 Tunisia became independent from France. The first president Habib Bourguiba improved the economy tremendously. Tunisia began to prosper under his leadership.
Half of the population working in agriculture. At the beginning of 1990 they had very good harvests which helped the farming communities. Their main exports are cereals and olive oil. The country also has oil and gas and a small amount is exported. Another income comes from the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline from Algeria. The pipeline delivers gas to Italy. Italy is only 140 km away across the Mediterranean from Tunisia. .Another good export is Phosphates which comes from tried-up lakes and is supplied to the fertiliser industries in large quantities.
Tunisia has a great problem with their agriculture. It has too many small farms and the young people leaving it and moving into the big cities hoping for a better live. The big cities already having great unemployment it increases disappointments.
Traditional fishing boats are in the east coast port of Mahdia. It started in the 10th century by a Shi'ite Muslim leader known as Mahdi. He built a city, port and a great mosque there. After that he move on and went to built Cairo in Egypt.
THE GREAT MOSQUE AT KAIROUAN
CARTHAGE -- UNESCO HERITAGE SITE
ROMAN MOSAIC IN CARTHAGE
The Berber was the ancient tribes of Tunisia. They were and are nomadic people and still living in Morocco and Algeria. The other ancient people who influenced Tunisia were the seafaring Phoenicians from around 1200 BC. The came from today's Lebanon.
A legend tells that the Princess Dido sailed in 814 BC from the Lebanese city Tyre. When she landed on Tunisia's coast she created the city Carthage which means New City. The Carthaginians were very successful in not only building a great trade but with that a great empire. Their trade routes went as far as the British Isle in the north and in the west along the African coast.
|HANNIBAL WAS BORN IN CARTHAGE|
Carthage was also the home of the great and legendary general Hannibal. Hannibal took in 218 BC his elephants and army from Spain over the Alps and tried to conquer Rome. He failed narrowly and Tunisia became part of the Roman Empire. Today, Carthage is a suburb of the capital Tunis.
ROMAN AMPHIT THEATRE IN DOUGGA
The Roman built an amphitheatre at Dougga which lies in the northern hills of Tunisia. Today it is Tunisia's most impressive ruins. They also built many great houses with magnificent mosaic floors and ornamental details. Due to the dry climate most of it had been preserved.
During the 7th century AD Tunisia was conquered by Muslim Arabs. They went across North Africa and Kairouan. This city is in the north-east of Tunisia. It soon became the holiest Islamic City in the area. Even today they are pilgrimages and the city is known as the city of mosques.
In the far south is a village called Ezzahara which has the distinct granaries (ghorfas) built by the Bedouin tribe. These fortified villages called ksar were very strongly built to keep our marauding tribes.
The Barbary Coast, during the Middle Ages, began in Egypt and ended in Morocco. Muslim pirates called corsairs used mainly the rocky coastline of Tunisia. They attacked from here Christian Ships all along the Mediterranean. They were powerful and the two most famous pirates were the Barbarossa brothers. They were so powerful that they took over Tunis in the 16th century.
In the Middle Ages Tunisia was conquered by the Turkish Ottoman and became from the 16th century part of the Ottoman Empire. However, since it is an impossibility to keep such an enormous empire under perfect control. Tunisia did not have the full protection. Therefore, in 1881 it was conquered by the French. Their ruling lasted till 1956 when Habib Bourguiba demanded and achieved independence for his country.
Habib Bourguiba was a very successful president and led the country to good economic growth. However, in 1987 he was 'quietly retired'. The next president was Zinc Ben Ali and population pressure, unemployment and religious extremism ended in today's revolt.