Independence 20 March 1956
National holiday Independence Day, 20 March - a time when hotel rooms are completely booked. Plan accordingly.
Tunisia has a rich cultural history, ever since Antiquity. The Carthaginian Empire, Rome's arch enemy, was centered in Tunisia. Its capital, Carthage, is now a suburb of Tunis. Founded by Phoenician settlers from Tyre and Sidon modern day Lebanon, Carthage was an ancient Mediterranean powerhouse. Three wars between Rome and Carthage known as the Punic wars were waged in the first few centuries before the birth of Christ. These culminated with the decimation of Carthage in 146 B.C. by the Roman general Scipio, who is said to have wept at its destruction.
Between the destruction of Ancient Carthage and the Arabic conquests of the 7th century, many cultures have made Tunisia their home. Carthage enjoyed a new period of prosperity under the Roman Empire until its collapse in the 5th century. Roman rule was replaced briefly by the Vandals, who made Carthage the capital of their kingdom. Carthage was then absorbed temporarily by the Byzantine Empire, until the rise of Islam in the 7th century.
After the dissipation of the Arabic Caliphates, the Ottoman Empire's Turkish Pashas ruled Tunisia. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia eventually fell under the sway of European Imperialism, as a French Protectorate, along with neighboring Algeria.
Following independence from France in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation.
Habib Bourghiba was quietly replaced in 1987 by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali Ben Ali, for short. His forced abdication was carried out under the pretext that he was unfit to carry out his duties as president, due to his ailing mental and physical state as a result of extreme old age. Nonetheless Bourghiba is still credited with the birth of the modern state of Tunisia, for which he fought his entire life.
In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration.
There are several ways to enjoy your vacation in Tunisia, including spending your vacation on the gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, or planning a circuit of Tunisia. Numerous charter flight companies can arrange flight and hotel, many that waiver a visa to enter. There are also some agencies that have ongoing tours for groups and private travelers.
Tourism is pretty well developed in Tunisia, although not at par with other countries like Egypt and perhaps even Morocco. Hotel star ratings are not at par with European and US standards-- a 4 star hotel is the equivalent of a 3 star.