Tunisia -‘The land of stories’

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As the most northern country in the continent of Africa. It calls both Algeria and Libya neighbours, along with the gorgeous coastline of the Mediterranean Sea where the city Hammamet embodies beautiful resorts that tourists have flocked to since the 1960s. Yip you guessed it, it is Tunisia. Officially known as the Tunisian Republic, Tunisia is home to an estimated population of over ten million with its capital as Tunis. The capital is known for its Roman archaeological sites as the great mosques in Kairouan the fourth most important Muslim city behind Mecca and the Carthage being the most popular among sites. In Tunisia, most of the population are Muslims with 99.1% being Sunni Muslims and 1% of Shia Muslims, Christians, Jewish and Baha’i. When you visit bear this in mind when packing for your vacation, modest clothing is necessary to respect their religion when in the towns and cities.

And as beautiful the past sentences might sound there are some challenges too. Tunisia has had 5 presidents since its independence from France in 1956 from Habib Bourguiba to Fouad Mebazaa in 2011. And from 2011 the revolution that introduced democracy to the country after decades of autocratic rule, the economy has stagnated, living standards have declined and public services decayed. The current president Kais Saied now needs to form a government from its deeply divided parliament. More than eight in 10 Tunisians (82%) in 2019 say corruption is widespread in their country’s business community, up from 69% last year and the highest level since 2013. Unemployment continues to hit Tunisia’s higher education graduates hard and women are also twice as likely to be affected by unemployment on average as men. The multi-diverse Tunisiation that consist of Arab-Berber with a small percentage being European, mostly from Italy and France with some Jewish residents do have some strength too. One is the geographical proximity to Europe, a skilled workforce and a diversified industrial network, significant agricultural and fishing potential, and large deposits of phosphate, oil and gas. Tunisia is a tourist country in essence (coastal tourism, business tourism, mountain tourism, ecotourism, oasis tourism, thalassotherapy) is an important engine of growth and employment. And besides the coastal tourism, there are some inland marvels too. One could go visit the town of Matmata, a small town which showcases the underground houses of the famous Jedi “Luke Skywalker”. These underground houses are created by digging a big open pit. Once the pit is dug, its walls are caved in to create houses (troglodyte houses) and rooms. One large pit can form a small underground village comprising of 5 to 9 families.

Tunisians are hoping for the COVID-19 season to pass soon so that they can benefit from the tourism services. However, the government has yet to present a clear strategy to address Tunisia’s deep economic and financial challenges. Coupled with the COVID-19 crisis that has aggravated the situation, economic resilience had been drained by several years of indecisive public policies and a growing protectionist stance.

Despite having lived through cruel wars, radical confrontations, ups and downs and all manner of grief, has been able to keep its tendency to understand others and to the synthesis of ideas and civilisations; we must stress its deep feeling for peace, even if it is difficult to achieve and requires effort and even violence. Tunisia is not “only” Arabic but Carthaginian, Roman, German, Byzantine, Turkish, somewhat French and Spanish and Andalusian naturally and thereby known as the land of stories. Most Tunisians value their cultural heritage which had been shaped by a blend of civilizations over thousands of years. And by this Tunisians are eager to introduce it to visitors.