Moving to Tunisia
North Africa’s smallest nation, Tunisia, is a fine jewel in the Mediterranean.
Situated on the Mediterranean Coast of North Africa, Tunisia is endowed with breathtaking, beautiful beaches with a total coastline 1,148 kilometers in length. An estimated 1 million expatriate population have found their way to Tunisia; European expatriates have certainly found a home in Tunisia.
Tunisia is an emerging country that ranks as one the most competitive economies in the world, dominated by its export and tourism sector. Tunisian economy's average growth rate is at 5% over the past ten years, and its 2008's real GDP growth rate was recorded at 5.1%.
A significant factor in Tunisia's success is its openness to trade, making it the European Union's most established trading partner in the Mediterranean region. Manufacturing industries in Tunisia produce most of the exports that include textiles, petroleum, mining, footwear, food processing, and mechanical manufacturers while tourism is a major source of foreign income in Tunisia.
Tunisia can certainly climb the top spot as the tourist destination for 2010. In 2008, a total of 7 million tourists visited Tunisia reaping 3.3 billion Tunisian Dinars. In the services sector, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) continues to play an important role in enhancing Tunisia's economy.
Sandwiched by Algeria and Libya, Tunisia's total land area is 165,000 kilometers with an estimated population of 10,432,500 as of July 2009; most of which are predominantly Arab. It is a relatively small country yet geographically diverse with the famous Sahara Desert in the south and marvelous mountainous terrain in the north.
Tunis, the largest city in Tunisia, is a fusion of modern European city style outlined by cosmopolitan cafes with a well preserved Medieval Medina (old city/town) bustling with souks and countless archaeological vestiges. Tunis is the gateway to the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia's famous archaeological site.
Tunisians are very friendly and welcoming; however, expatriates may face language and cultural barriers. Islam is the official state religion, and by law, the president is even required to be a Muslim. Contrary to belief, there exists a religious freedom as some adhere to Judaism or other religions like Catholics and Protestants.
Although Tunisia is the most liberal of all Islamic countries, expats should be sensitive to the Islamic tradition. Travelers and expats should wear modest clothes when entering mosques or any religious sites and avoid clothing with articles that may cause any offense. Showing a modest amount of skin on the beach is tolerated, but not elsewhere.
Women's right are very liberated in Tunisia; however, women expatriates should take caution when traveling alone. Public displays of affection can also cause offense. During Ramadan, Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink and smoke between sunrise and sunset. Furthermore, homosexuality or homosexual acts are prohibited and punishable in Tunisia.
As an Arab country, the official language is Arabic and French is used as a second language. Most of the Tunisians residing in the urban areas can speak French resulting to a dialectal mélange informally called "Frarabic".
The hottest month is October while windstorms may occur in spring or April and May. Living in the south will be hot and arid as it extends more than 300 kilometers to the desert. Tunisia's coastal regions in the south have a moderate temperature.
The local currency is Tunisian Dinar or TND. Traveler's checks and credit cards are accepted in most urban or tourist areas. Foreign nationals should note that it is a criminal offense to import or export Tunisian Dinar.
Despite the global slowdown, an expected economic recovery will embark in 2010 that will benefit industrialized and emerging countries like Tunisia. The country is committed to implementing its five-year program (Presidential Program for 2009-2014) that aims to attract more foreign investments, reach 10 million tourist entries, and sustain the growth of its expat community.
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