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10 Amazing Facts About Tunisia You Didn’t Know

Tunisia is a North African country bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.  The country is bordered by Algeria to the west and Libya to the south east.  The Bardo Museum in the capital has many archeological exhibits from Roman Mosaics to Islamic art.

Apart from these generally known facts, there are quite a few other amazing facts about the country that many do not know.  For example, what is the general response of a Tunisian host you request anything of him?  Why is it better for you to calmly walk away when you feel upset?  And what is the position of the government/law on women veiling in academic institutions?

You will get the answers to these and many more in the following 10 amazing facts about Tunisia.  Happy reading!

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Capital:                         Tunis

Currency:                      Tunisian Dinar

Government:                 Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic

President:                     Beji Caid Essebsi

Population:                   10,982,754 (2014 Estimate)

Language:                     Arabic and French

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Amazing Facts About Tunisia

Amazing Facts About Tunisia
Greetings in Tunisia | Cross-cultural communication skills

1. General Greeting

Whether between men and men, between women and women, or between men and women, one thing is common to all: a warm handshake.  But when between a man and a woman, it is better to let the woman indicate she wants a handshake.  However, religiously observant people of the opposite sex never touch each other.  It is a taboo.

2. Don’t Ask for Too Much

When Tunisians host you, they are generally gracious and generous.  It would amount to taking their graciousness and generosity for granted by asking too much.  This is because they hardly ever say NO.  But it would put them at a spot.  Amazing, isn’t it?

3. Calmly Walk Away

Tunisians are never confrontational even though they are generally direct in their communications style.  So be careful not to criticize someone in public.  Why?  Because, the amazing part is that the person would calmly walk away, thereby putting you and your family to shame.

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4. Position of Eye contact

The people love eye contact because it is a sign of respect.  But when talking to elders and superiors, avoiding eye contact is a sign of deference and respect.  Also, women show respect and politeness by avoiding eye contact especially with men they’ve just met.

5. About Punctuality

Office hours, trains, busses, and planes…these are the only things that run on time in Tunisia, as in all Mediterranean countries.  Punctuality is only valued; what is amazing is that it is not observed even in business meetings.  Time is viewed very loosely.

6. Veiling and Polygamy

Being predominantly Islamic, it is amazing that women veiling at academic institutions, arranged marriages, and polygamy is legally banned in Tunisia.  So, if visiting the country with your wife, you have nothing to worry about you wife having to wear a veil.  Wow!  Is this amazing or what?!

7. Signing Congrats and Bravo

Tunisians have a number of expressions that they do not need to voice.  One of them is tipping the hat.  It is so commonly used and understood that people do it now even when not wearing a hat.  You should learn it.  It means “bravo” or “Congrats.”

8. The Thank you/Thank God Gesture

There is a popular way to show gratitude to a person or to God.  This too is so common that even when such expression is voiced, the gesture is still performed.  You should learn it.  You simply place your right hand on your chest.  It means “thank you” or “thanks be to God.”

9. No Legal Drinking Age

Amazing Facts About Tunisia
Beer in Tunisia

Alcohol is forbidden to Muslims.  But that is where it stops.  You can find alcohol virtually everywhere!  And strangely, it is sold to everyone who comes to buy.  This is because there is no legal drinking age.

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There is also no set minimum age for buying tobacco and cigarettes.

10. Respect Government Officials

One more amazing fact:  It is legally obligatory to respect government official.  This is one law that even foreigners, especially those from so-called very liberated countries must beware not to flout.  Several people are known to have been given long jail terms for cursing at police officers.

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