TUNISIA: Paradise beaches, well-preserved Roman ruins, exotic souks and vast desert landscapes. Tunisia has all the ingredients needed to become the next big thing on the travel scene – once again, following the 2011 revolution and the start of the Arab spring.
And no wonder. With year-round sunshine, only about a 2-hour flight from any main city in Europe, a fascinating history and a friendly population, Tunisia offers visitors an exciting alternative to the traditional Mediterranean beach holiday.
Desert adventures. The Tunisian Sahara stretches for hundreds of miles with nothing but golden sand dunes in sight. The desert can be both a spiritual, mind-cleansing place and a playground for adventurers and thrill-seekers with fun activities, from jeep safaris to sand surfing. One of the most popular desert activities is a five-day camel trek from the nomad town of Douz to Ksar Ghilane. In Douz, nomads gather for the big traditional market every Thursday – a great place to immerse yourself in the Berber culture and perhaps find a beautiful silver bracelet or handmade jewellery box to take home.
Find your private Beach. Tunisia is probably best known for its enviable 1200-kilometre Mediterranean coastline with fine sand beaches, crystal clear water and a friendly climate. These attributes make Tunisia a year-round favourite of sunbathers and water sports fans, and the coastline is dotted with beach resorts for all tastes and budgets. However, the average day temperature in Hammamet in January is 13C, in February 14C and 15C in March. If you venture outside the resort, it is easy to find your own private beach off the beaten path.
Roman history. Tunisia is home to some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in North Africa. About 100 kilometres west of Tunis you will find the ancient city of Dougga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site complete with temples, theatres, thermal baths, private houses and an amphitheatre. Equally impressive is the amphitheatre of El Jem, second in size only to the Coliseum in Rome, where 35,000 spectators could once watch gladiator fights and circuses.
Traditional spa. Thalasso spa treatments are an age-old Tunisian tradition, already appreciated by the Phoenicans in 200 BC. Along the coast there are hundreds of spas dedicated to therapies using seaweed, marine minerals, sand, mud, sea water, sea salts and nutrient-rich algae.
Size: About the size of England + Wales
Population: 10,7 million
Capital: Tunis, population 2,3 million
Language: Arabic and French
Tunisia bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast and the Mediterranean Sea to the north.
Almost 90% of the population is made up of Arabs.
The national day of Tunisia is on March 20. The day is celebrated to mark the country’s independence from France on March 20, 1956.