Tunis is the capital and the largest city of Tunisia.
It is located in north-eastern Tunisia on the Lake of Tunis, and is connected to the Mediterranean sea‘s Gulf of Tunis by a canal which terminates at the port of La Goulette/Halq al Wadi.
As of October 2019, the population of Tunis is about 650,000 people. The greater metropolitan area of Tunis, often referred to as Grand Tunis, has some 2,700,000 people.
The city covers a total area of 213 square kilometers (82 square miles).
Tunis’s elevation ranges from its lowest point, 4 meters (13 feet) above sea level, to its highest point, 41 meters (135 feet) above sea level.
Tunis was founded by the Libyans, who in the 9th century BC surrendered the site of Carthage to the Phoenicians from Tyre.
In 146 BC, during the Third Punic War between Carthage and Rome, Tunis and Carthage were destroyed.
The city flourished under Roman rule, but its importance dates chiefly from the Muslim conquest in the 7th century AD.
It became the capital city under the Aghlabids (800–909) and reached its greatest prosperity under the Ḥafṣid dynasty (1236–1574).
The Holy Roman emperor Charles V took possession of it in 1535, and in 1539 the city passed into the hands of the Turks.
It was retaken by the Spaniards, who held it from 1573 to 1574 but who were obliged to yield it to the Ottoman Empire, under which it remained until the French protectorate (1881–1956).
Occupied by the Germans in 1942 and liberated by British forces and Allied troops in 1943, it became the national capital of Tunisia when independence was achieved in 1956.
Today, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life; it is also the center of the country’s commercial and cultural activities. The city has two cultural centres.
The remnants of ancient Carthage lie scattered across the Bay of Tunis. The evocative tumbled columns and piles of marble rubble are bordered by a panorama of the Mediterranean Sea, which was so fundamental to the city’s prosperity. Carthage was widely considered the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and was arguably one of the most affluent cities of the Ancient World.
The Bardo National Museum is a museum of Tunis. It is one of the most important museums in the Mediterranean region and the second museum of the African continent after the Egyptian Museum of Cairo by richness of its collections. It traces the history of Tunisia over several millennia and across several civilizations through a wide variety of archaeological pieces.
The Medina of Tunis is the Medina quarter of Tunis, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The Medina contains some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains dating from the Almohad and the Hafsid periods.
Al-Zaytuna Mosque is a major mosque in Tunis. The mosque is the oldest in the Capital of Tunisia and covers an area of 5,000 square metres (1.2 acres) with nine entrances. It has 160 authentic columns brought originally from the ruins of the old city of Carthage. The mosque is known to host one of the first and greatest universities in the history of Islam.
Tunis has some large parks, many of which were installed at the end of the 19th century by the authorities of the French protectorate. The largest Park, Belvédère Park, was founded in 1892 overlooks Lake Tunis. It is the oldest public park in the country and is built in the landscape style common to France.
Tunisian food markets offer a great introduction to local culture, and Tunis’ Marché Centrale is particularly atmospheric. The original market building dates from 1891 and the halls behind are later additions. There are three distinct areas: an enormous fish hall where you can watch locally caught fish being theatrically weighed, gutted and scaled; a central hall where mounds of spicy harissa, tubs of plump olives and blocks of pungent cheese are sold; and a rear fruit and vegetable section.
Different explanations exist for the origin of the name Tunis. Some scholars relate it to the Phoenician goddess Tanith (‘Tanit or Tanut), as many ancient cities were named after patron deities. Some scholars claim that it originated from Tynes, which was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Polybius in the course of descriptions of a location resembling present-day Al-Kasbah; Tunis’s old Berber Bourgade. Another possibility is that it was derived from the Berber verbal root ens which means “to lie down” or “to pass the night”. Given the variations of the precise meaning over time and space, the term Tunis can possibly mean “camp at night”, “camp”, or “stop.”