From the Horse’s Mouth – Tunisia

Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa and its name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, located on the country’s northeast coast. Tunisia is a beautiful city, rich in ancient history and culture.

How are birthdays celebrated?

It is common to celebrate birthdays at home with family and friends or out at a hotel or restaurant.

When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

If it is for the first time, we shake hands. Otherwise with friends and family we kiss on the cheeks – twice and sometimes four times – we are a tactile nation.

What languages are spoken in your country?

Mainly Tunisian Arabic and French. English is spoken sometimes for official purposes.

What side of the road do people drive on, and what might we need to know about driving in Tunisia?

Our cars are left-hand drive, so we drive on the right side of the road. How do we drive – judge for yourself.

How important is punctuality?

Punctuality is important to us. People might arrive for parties a little late but never for business meetings.

What types of music are popular in your country? And who are some of your most popular musicians?

Most people listen to Oriental and Folkloric genres of music. Some famous Tunisian artists are:

Are there any traditional dances?

There are traditional folkloric dances of which the origins can be traced as far back as the Ottoman empire. An example of oriental dance usually performed in Tunisia places emphasis on the movements of the pelvis in rhythm to the beat, the movement the swinging of the arms, and the movement of the feet in rhythm, transferring weight onto the right leg or left. You can watch an example of the Tunisian Moldova by following the link.


What traditional festivals are celebrated in your community?

Two of the most popular are The International Festival of Carthage and the Kef Chante La Tunisie. The International Festival of Carthage is the longest-running festival in North Africa, having been established in 1964. This year, the event celebrates its 50th anniversary, which will be celebrated by seven major performances. Besides the acclaimed local and international singers from a variety of jazz, fashion and folk genres, the festival sets the stage for a great selection of ballet and dance shows as well. The event is also held in an open air and refurbished Roman Amphitheatre that seats up to 7500 people.

What are your seasons like?

Tunisia experiences 4 seasons throughout the year. It is sunny in spring, hot in summer, warm in autumn and cold in winter. In summer temperatures can reach up to 40°C and in winter they can fall as low as 5°C. Sometimes you can experience all four seasons in the same day!

What are Tunisia’s major industries?

Agriculture and textiles. Agriculture is still the mainstay of the Tunisian economy, although oil mining, automotive parts, equipment, and services are some dominant sources of foreign exchange.

How do people spend their free time?

Tunisians enjoy hanging out in coffee shops and travelling. Due to Tunisia being so close to Europe, locals love visiting Italy, France, Spain and Turkey. At home, we love to sit in coffee shops for hours on end.

What do people drink?

Tunisians love coffee, tea, and alcoholic drinks such as beer and whiskey.

What is a popular local dish?

Couscous is Tunisia’s unofficial national dish. It is more than just a staple food for the country. Many families spend time preparing and eating couscous as a ritual and a tradition that binds the generations together. The basic ingredient in couscous dishes is semolina. This is mixed with water and rolled, by hand, to make small grains of various grades. The grains are then steamed over a boiling sauce in a two-chambered pot called a keskes. Once the couscous grains are fluffy and the sauce is cooked, the two are mixed together and served, often with meat or grilled fish on top.

The king of Tunisian cuisine, however, is undoubtedly Ojja. The spicy tomato-based stew is loved by everyone and sold in nearly every working-class Tunisian restaurant. The dish is very saucy, with a rich, spicy flavor. The base consists of tomato paste, garlic, green peppers, coriander, cumin, and a healthy dollop of harrisa. The Ojja is a deep red colour, with two very runny eggs on top.

What do you pay for?

  • (USD 1 = approximately 3.11 TND)
  • A cup of coffee will cost about 3.00 to 8.00 TND.
  • A 2 litre Coca Cola will cost about 3.00 to 5.00 TND.
  • A 2-Course meal for 2 people at a midrange restaurant will cost about 30.00 TND to 50 TND.
  • White bread (125 grams) will cost about 0.11 TND.
  • Regular milk (0.25 litres) will cost about 0.35 TND.


What is the general security like in Tunisia? Is it a safe country?

Tunisia is generally calm and secure. Owing to the country’s crystal-blue waters, Mediterranean cuisine and a large variety of budget hotels, Tunisia has always been a prime destination in Africa. However, crime does occur, as it does anywhere else in the world. Most people will warn foreigners to steer clear of the country’s southern borders.


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Written by Eloise Williams

Edited by Saudika Hendricks

Contributions by Mariem Khedhiri