Tunisia is a country situated on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.
It is the easternmost and smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range, bordering Algeria, to the west, and Libya to the south and east. Forty percent of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil, with easily accessible coasts.
This Arab-Berber nation is one of the most liberal in the Islamic world; alcohol is freely available and women need not feel intimidated. The capital, Tunis, reflects the country’s diversity. Its French colonial past has a far-reaching influence (it only gained independence in 1956), most obviously in its cuisine that blends sophisticated French styles with Arab spice.
Since independence, Tunisia, first under the 30-year rule of Habib Bourgiba, and now under a government led by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, now in his fourth five-year term as President, has pursued a policy aimed at prevention of Islamic fundamentalism. It is also one of the most advanced Arab nations in terms of women’s rights, and has by far the most successful economy in the region.