Tunisia is a country on the north coast of Africa, with the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east, Algeria to the west, and Libya to the southeast. Its capital is Tunis, and the south of the country is desert.

The attractions of Tunis include the medina, the city's ancient heart, and home to mosques and souqs (markets). Picture Monty Python's film Life of Brian, which was filmed in the country. The Bardo Museum is located in the Bardo palace, home to the former Husseinite beys.

Star Wars fans probably associate Tunisia's desert with the planet Tatooine, which was filmed here, in Matmata. The Sahara's bleak landscapes proved a suitably alien terrain to portray the planet.

Historically, Tunisia was known as Carthage, and was founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. Roman ruins can still be seen at Carthage. Arab rule took over in the 7th century AD, and it became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1574. Barbary Coast pirates operated from the coast until the 19th century. In 1881 it became a French protectorate.

Habib Bourguiba founded the Destour Socialist Party in 1934 which campaigned for Tunisian independence from France. Tunisia achieved this in 1956, with Bourguiba as prime minister. The monarchy was abolished and Bourbuiba became president. In 1987 he was deposed by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and democratic reforms were introduced, but the government party was re-elected.

The Hutchinson Encyclopedia, 1997 edition, Helicon Publishing Ltd, 1996

The following write-ups may be of interest in relation to Tunisia:



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