Tuesday, November 01 2011 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Text and photos by Steve Slater
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Tunisia is a country of two halves: the north with its capital Tunis, the verdant land of Cape Bon and Hammamet; and the south from Sousse and Monastir (where the majority of the "Life of Brian" was filmed) down to the more industrial area with Sfax as its capital and beyond toward the border with Libya. Unfortunately, Tunisia missed out on the oil fields. Its primary source of income is tourism with some textiles work thrown in. Even now Tunisia is a safe place to visit. The country needs tourism to survive. That is why there is a large police presence in all souks and towns (that and to counter illegal immigrants). French is the second language, but as throughout the world English is widely spoken.
Tunisia was a French colony until 1956 and doesn’t it show. The main thoroughfare in the capital city of Tunis is Avenue Habib Bourguiba. It bears a striking similarity to the Champs Elysees in Paris. French colonial buildings line the avenue interspersed with the usual bars, banks, restaurants and hotels. Get out of Tunis and you see the real Tunisia, meet the real Tunisians, and realize why this country was one of the cornerstones of the ‘Arab Spring’. Ask anyone to name a famous Tunisian and look at them struggle, but there is one we all know. The man with the elephants that he took over the Alps. Yes, Hannibal was a Tunisian. Truthfully, he was a Carthaginian whose capital of Carthage is part of the suburbs of modern Tunis. This man and his troops almost brought the mighty Roman Empire to its knees a thousand years before it's ultimate fall.