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Preface Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:25 AM

Tunisia's history and list of attractions would do justice to a country twice its size. From the stone-age settlements near the oasis at Kebili to the space-age sets of Star Wars (parts of which were filmed at Matmata), its lush-to-lunar landscapes have seen plenty of action.

Tunisia may be the smallest country in North Africa, but its strategic position has ensured it an eventful history. The Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and French have all picked at the region at one point. It is believed that what is now arid desert was covered in forest, scrub, and savanna grasses, much like the plains of Kenya and Tanzania today.

The Phoenicians first came to Tunisia in 1100 B.C. and established a chain of ports along the North African coast. The port that looms largest in history books is Carthage, archenemy of Rome. It became the leader of the western Phoenician world in the 7th century. The city's regional dominance lasted until the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage and ended with Carthage utterly razed and its people sold into slavery.

The Tunisian territory became a Roman domain after the war. The emperor Augustus re-founded Carthage as a Roman city, naming it the capital of Africa Proconsularis, Rome's African holdings. The Romans went on to found cities and colonies across Tunisia's plains and coastline.

By the beginning of the 5th century, with Rome's power in terminal decline, the Vandals decided the area was ripe for plucking. Within 10 years, they had taken Carthage as their capital. The Byzantines of Constantinople, who took the territory from the Vandals in 533, kept it for the next 150 years.

Islam was introduced in the 7th century, when the Arab armies swept out of Arabia and quickly conquered Egypt. The Arabs had taken all of north Africa by the start of the 8th century, and the region became a province of the fast-expanding Islamic empire.

Conflicts arose again when North Africa was caught in the middle of the rivalry between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the middle of the 16th century. Tunis changed hands half a dozen times in some 50 years before the Turks took it and it became an Ottoman territory. Ottoman power lasted through to the 19th century, when France became the new power in the Western Mediterranean.

The geopolitical climate after WW II opened the door for Tunisian nationalists to step up their campaign for independence from France. Tunisia was formally granted independence on March 20, 1956.

History, culture, ancient ruins, and a beautiful, diverse landscape - you will be impressed with what Tunisia has to offer. After all, it has had 3,000 years to prepare for your visit.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:32 AM

The Republic of Tunisia lies at the northernmost tip of Africa, a strategic location that throughout history has made it a crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and northwestern Libya form the Maghreb (the West, in Arabic), an area of common history, language, ethnic groups, and culture.

The country's area of 63,378 square miles is slightly smaller than Missouri. Tunisia has 1,000 miles of Mediterranean coastline. Northern Tunisia is the most heavily populated part of the country, mountainous (although elevations rarely reach 3,000 feet), and relatively fertile; this area was the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. The north also claims Tunisia's one major river, the Medjerda. Central Tunisia is a semi-arid highland with poor soil, little rainfall, and scant population. The south is arid and barren, except for occasional oases, as it merges with the Sahara.

Tunisia's climate is temperate with generally mild winters and hot summers. The countryside is quite green in winter and spring; and becomes dry and brown in summer. Winters are are short, rainy, humid and chilly. The temperature is rarely below freezing. Snow falls in the northwestern mountain region. Summers in Tunis are characterized by high temperatures, occasionally reaching 120°F, with an average humidity of 60% to 70% during June, July, and August; evenings are pleasant. From mid-May until mid-October, the sky is usually cloudless and little rain falls. In an average year, only 120 days have any rainfall.

Population Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:33 AM

Tunisia's population is approximately 10 million. Islam is the state religion and nearly all Tunisians are Arab Sunni Muslims. Religious minorities are tolerated and protected, including a small Jewish population (the second largest in the Middle East outside of Israel). In addition to its many mosques, Tunis has a few Jewish synagogues and several churches (Catholic and Protestant, with services in French and English).

More than 77% of Tunisia's population 10 years and older is literate, due in large part to universal education up to grade 8. Arabic is the official language, but French is widely spoken as a second language, particularly in urban areas. A basic knowledge of French will facilitate life in Tunis as nearly all product information, printed materials, and road signs are written in both French and Arabic. English is taught at the secondary school level but is not yet used or spoken as widely, although it is on the rise.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:35 AM

Tunisia's form of government is characterized as a presidential republic, dominated by a single party, with decision-making centered in the executive branch. Although opposition parties exist, the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party is firmly intertwined with government institutions throughout the country, making it extremely difficult for opposition parties to compete on a level playing field. The President was reelected to a fourth 5-year term in October 2004 with 94.5% of the vote.

The President appoints the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and 24 provincial governors. The Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term and meets January through July and November through December every year. Twenty percent of the seats are reserved for the opposition. A new upper house of Parliament, the Chamber of Advisors, is to be created in 2005.

There are eight legal parties: the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD, ruling party), the Democratic Socialist Movement (MDS), the Popular Unity Party (PUP), Social Liberal Party (PSL), the Renewal Movement (NR or Ettajdid), the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), the Unionist Democratic Union (UDU), and the Democratic Forum for Labor and Freedom (FDTL). Three political parties are unregistered: the Tunisian Green Party (PVT), the "An-Nahdha Movement," and the Tunisian Communist Workers' Party (POCT). The Tunisian Government considers An-Nahdha to be a terrorist organization.

Thanks to the Personal Status Code, established shortly after independence, and the Government's efforts to advance the status of women, Tunisian women enjoy full civil and legal rights. Numerous organizations actively seek to advance respect for women's rights, including the National Union of Tunisian Women and the Tunisian Democratic Women's Association (ATFD). The independent trade union federation, the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), remains large and influential.

Courts in Tunisia are secular, and there is a three-level judiciary: first-instance courts, courts of appeal, and the highest judicial body, the Supreme Court. All judicial proceedings are in Arabic. There are also other judicial bodies such as an administrative court designed to address grievances against government ministries.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:36 AM

Tunisia's cultural and artistic heritage is a blending of Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Spanish, Turkish, French, and Berber influence. This rich heritage can be seen throughout the country, in magnificent collections of Roman mosaics and statues, Phoenician coins and jewelry, and early Arab manuscripts. Archeological sites scattered through the country are constant reminders of the richness of Tunisia's heritage. Remains of Punic ports, a Roman coliseum, aqueducts, numerous temples and villas, and Spanish forts are all part of Tunisia's living past.

The education system in Tunisia expanded rapidly after independence. Today, the primary and secondary systems enroll over 95% of the eligible school population, with no significant difference between male and female enrollment rates. To earn the high school baccalaureate degree, students must attend at least 13 years of school and pass the qualifying examinations. Over time, the government has promoted instruction in Arabic so that today many students who do not continue their education beyond the primary level are literate in Arabic rather than French. More recently, the Government has made the teaching of English at the university and secondary level an increasing priority. English is currently introduced in the sixth year of primary school, and there are several university degree programs in which the language of instruction is English.

Although Ezzitouna University is arguably the oldest university in North Africa, dating back to the Middle Ages, the beginning of the modern university system in Tunisia dates to the establishment of the University of Tunis in 1960. Since then the higher education system has grown rapidly to currently include 150 different institutions. As of 2004, there are 10 public universities under the Ministry of Higher Education, including the recently founded "Virtual University" that dispenses instruction over the Internet. In the 2004-2005 academic year, there were over 300,000 students enrolled in higher education, and a projected half million students will be enrolled by 2010. Over half of these students are women. In the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to increase the number of institutes and faculties outside of Tunis. Recent years have also seen the growth of private "universities," although most resemble vocational schools. In 2004, there were 12, teaching business, computer science, and other subjects related to the technical and service industries.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:38 AM

Tunisia, a middle-income country, has a growing and diversifying economy that is increasingly open to the world economy. After severe economic crises in the mid-1980s, the Government instituted a structural adjustment program that has successfully encouraged fiscal prudence, export-led growth, and slow but steady liberalization. Minimal GDP growth of 1.1% in 2002 was followed by a 5.5% expansion in 2003 and a similar amount in 2004. Inflation was approximately 4.5% in 2004. The chief sectors of Tunisia's $16.2 billion (2004 estimate) economy are services, manufacturing, agriculture, phosphate mining, and hydrocarbon production.

The tourism sector is the largest player in the services sector and represents a major source of foreign exchange. Transportation and domestic trade make up the remainder of the services sector. Tunisia is developing its information technology infrastructure in order to spur more growth in jobs and exports in the services sector.

Textile and leather production, as well as agribusiness, dominate the manufacturing sector. Many famous name European clothing lines are produced in Tunisia, and U.S. companies such as Playtex and "The Gap" source portions of their production here. Tunisia is one of the world's leading producers of lime phosphate, and it is self-sufficient in oil and natural gas production. Several U.S. petroleum exploration and services companies operate in Tunisia and make up about half of U.S. investment in the country.

Tourism is the country's third largest income earner and accounts for about 7% of nominal GDP. Tunisia welcomes visitors primarily from Libya, France, Algeria, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Tunisia's warm climate and fine beaches make it Europe's Caribbean - an attractive, inexpensive vacation spot within easy reach. Efforts to move away from mass tourism toward more lucrative niche markets have led to developments in cultural and desert tourism, as well as golf courses and 5-star resorts. Tunisia actively seeks foreign investment in key employment and export-producing sectors, and has created an attractive investment incentive program. With its proximity to the European market and the duty-free entry afforded to Tunisian products by the EU-Tunisian Free Trade Agreement launched in 1995, Tunisia is appealing to foreign investors seeking access to the European market. The EU supplies over 70% of Tunisia's imports (and absorbs 80% of its exports). Although European investments are the most plentiful, there is a growing U.S. business presence in Tunisia, which includes Microsoft and the Lear Corporation. A process for formally discussing bilateral trade issues, the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, with the U.S. was launched in 2003. In 2003, the U.S.-North Africa Economic Partnership (USNAEP) was folded into the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to support economic, political, and education reform efforts in the region. Tunisia hosts one of two regional MEPI offices.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:18 AM

The Embassy does not rent or lend vehicles to newcomers. Newly arrived employees awaiting arrival of their personal vehicles are authorized transportation to and from the workplace during regular office hours by the motor pool on a fee basis for up to 60 days. Avis, Hertz, and other rental cars are available, but they are expensive. Employees who have chosen not to ship or purchase a personal vehicle are expected to make all their own transportation arrangements. Taxis are numerous and reasonably priced. There are several taxi services to which an employee can telephone ahead and book a taxi.

Tunisian customs regulations regarding vehicles make a clear distinction between U.S. Government employees with diplomatic status and those without. Those employees not included on the formal diplomatic list are given "PAT"(Personnel Administratif et Technique) plates and may register only one duty-free personal vehicle. Those in PAT status can only purchase or import a duty-free vehicle during the first year after arrival at post. Employees with diplomatic status obtain "CD"(Corps Diplomatique) plates. Those with diplomatic status who have a spouse residing at post are permitted to register up to two personal vehicles. An individual may not register a duty-free vehicle, sell or otherwise dispose of that vehicle, and then import or purchase another one to replace it. The Tunisian Government rarely grants exceptions to this rule.

Tunisian customs regulations greatly reduce opportunities for resale of automobiles upon departure from post. The high import duties for all cars tend to limit the pool of potential buyers to those people with duty-free privileges.

Vehicles imported into Tunisia should not be ostentatious and must not have windows so heavily tinted that it is not possible to see into the car from outside. Tunisian law requires seatbelts for the front seats. The climate makes both a heater and air-conditioner necessary.

There are few American cars in Tunisia, so spare parts for them are not available. Maintenance of American cars can also be problematic because mechanics are unfamiliar with them. Furthermore, because of the high import duty on new and used cars paid by those without duty-free privileges, all U.S. automobiles (including European cars built to American specifications) have limited resale value.

European cars can be ordered locally duty free (delivery delay is at least 2 months) or may be ordered directly from Europe, either after you arrive at post or from Washington. Such cars may be picked up in Paris, Marseille, or Frankfurt, for example, and driven to post via one of the ferry services operating from Marseille or Genoa. (See "Getting to the Post.") Many employees have found this to be an advantageous alternative to shipping a car to post since transit time for shipped vehicles can be lengthy, and because vehicles arriving by ferry can be driven immediately with a temporary registration. Having personal transportation available upon arrival at post is a great advantage. Newly assigned employees who are considering purchasing a car in Europe and driving it to post should contact the Embassy well in advance to make ferry reservations. A local insurance can be bought through Embassy Shipping Office the same day of your arrival so you can drive home immediately. To facilitate customs clearance, the vehicle should be registered in another country and have valid license plates before shipment to Tunisia. Such a vehicle can be cleared within 1 week after arrival and driven for three months while awaiting official Tunisian plates. If the vehicle has not been previously registered, an additional 4-8 weeks will be necessary for customs clearance and will be more complicated for registration, and the vehicle will remain at the port, so may not be driven during this time.

Registering a car in Tunisia is a complicated and lengthy procedure because of the numerous formalities required. The Embassy arranges registration of personally owned vehicles. A permanent license number is assigned to each registered car, and license plates are made at owner's expense. Cars must be insured.

Third-party-liability insurance is mandatory and must be obtained locally through the GSO Shipping Unit. The price for such insurance varies according to the horsepower of the vehicle, but is about $200 per year. Collision insurance is very expensive locally and can be difficult to collect quickly due to complicated Tunisian regulations. Many employees prefer to buy collision insurance from a U.S. company in addition to locally purchased third-party liability. If you intend to travel abroad, the GSO Shipping Unit can assist you in purchasing "Green Card International Insurance" (temporary international auto insurance) through the same local insurance agency.

A Tunisian driver's license is not required if you have a valid U.S. driver's license. It is important that your license remain valid for the duration of your assignment. If you intend to travel to other countries where you will need an international driver's license, obtain one in the U.S.; or the Tunisian branch of the Automobile Association normally will issue international driver's licenses to those who are not Tunisian Citizens.

Coupons for duty-free gasoline may be purchased from the Commissary, saving about 17 percent of the cost at the pump.

Per 6 FAM 165.9-2, personnel assigned to Tunis are granted exceptions to the restriction on shipment of foreign-made, foreign-purchased, privately owned vehicles to the U.S. at government expense. However, these vehicles must meet all of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/26/2005 5:32 AM

The local yellow (municipal) bus network is unsatisfactory because of overcrowding and unreliable schedules and equipment. However, a green (private) bus network also connects the coastal neighborhoods with the more heavily populated neighborhoods of Tunis. Electric trains connect the city with the coastal community. These trains are inexpensive and easy to use, but are usually crowded. Train service to some areas ends by midnight.

Well-kept, paved roads connect all the larger Tunisian cities. The railroad system covers a distance of 1,200 miles and connects most of the larger cities. All major roads and landmarks are well labeled in French and Arabic. The trains on the Tunis-Sousse-Sfax corridor are new, quite comfortable, and provide frequent service. Six international airports provide service-Tunis/Carthage, Monastir, Djerba, Sfax, Tozeur, and Tabarka.

Taxis are numerous in Tunis but can be difficult to find at certain hours and in some areas. However, they are easy to find throughout the day and evening in the northern suburbs where most American staff resides. Taxis carry a maximum of three passengers. Fares are metered and inexpensive. The taxi fare from Tunis/Carthage Airport to the Embassy is about $4.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/26/2005 5:32 AM

Tunis Air and Air France fly daily direct flights to Paris. Tunis Air and Alitalia provide daily flights to Rome. Regular direct flights are also available to London, Frankfurt, and most other major cities in Europe and the Middle East. The Embassy uses the services of a local travel agency, Tunisian Travel Service (TTS). TTS (Wagonlit’s representative) also accepts major credit cards and personal dollar checks from official personnel.

No direct sea transportation is available from Tunis to the U.S., but weekly sailings of large, comfortable ferries to Sicily (9 hours), Naples (14 hours) (in summer only), Genoa (24 hours), and Marseille (24 hours) are available on Italian (Tirrenia) and Tunisian lines (CTN). Reservations must be made months in advance, especially if a vehicle is involved. Ferry reservations are particularly difficult to obtain during the summer. For more information, contact the Embassy Travel Section.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 2/4/2005 7:12 AM

Local and international direct-dial (IDD) long-distance telephone and facsimile (fax) service are available at rates higher than in the U.S. A direct-dial 3-minute call to the U.K. costs TD1.950, to Italy TD1.950, and to Washington, D.C. TD 2.400. Although Tunis PTT has primary maintenance responsibility for private residential telephones, Embassy technicians provide emergency assistance to Mission personnel in most cases. PTT bills are issued quarterly. Basic service costs about TD 8; however, local calls in the greater Tunis metro area are billed at the rate of TD 0.010 per minute for the first 1,200 minutes per quarter and TD 0.020 for any additional minutes.

Although telegram and telex services are available, these are rapidly being overtaken by fax. International telegraph and telex service is expensive. Some employees make use of a global callback system that costs about $.50/minute from Tunisia to the U.S. The Embassy has IVG phone lines, accessed through the switchboard operator, that allow for direct calls to be placed to Washington D.C., without charge. The Embassy has no telex service.

Embassy switchboard operators are on duty Monday-Friday (7:00a.m. to 10:30p.m.), Saturday (7:00a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and Sunday (10:00a.m to 8:00 p.m.).

Following are some direct Mission telephone and fax numbers:

Telephone Fax
Embassy: 216-71-107-000
Post One: 216-71-107-212

PA/American Center: 216-71-107-254 216-71-963-263
ODC: 216-71-107-085 216-71-964-422
DAO: 216-71-107-200 216-71-964-509
ACST: 216-71-760-517 or 760-905 216-71-716-412
GSO: 216-71-107-494 216-71-962-144
FMO: 216-71-107-206 216-71-964-330
OAA: 216-71-107-402 216-71-107-101
FSI: 216-71-741-672 216-71-741-062

Wireless Service Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:40 AM

Two companies currently provide cell-phone service in Tunisia. They use the GSM standard. There is excellent coverage in Tunis and the infrastructure is rapidly expanding throughout the country. International and roaming service is available, and the two companies offer a variety of tariff programs, including prepaid cards.

Many direct-hires are issued a cell phone. However, you are responsible for all personal phone calls you make.

Direct-hire employees will receive a handheld radio for Post's Emergency Radio Network. Post conducts weekly radio checks to ensure the network is functional and all equipment operational.

Internet Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:40 AM

Home internet access in Tunisia is available mainly in two different forms: ADSL and dialup. ADSL is growing in popularity as more areas around the country gain access.

What is ADSL? ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line, a new technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines. ADSL supports data transfer rates up to 9 Mbps.

ADSL subscription prices vary between TD 50 and TD 100 (approximately $40-$80) per month, all-inclusive, for 128 and 256 Kbps connections, respectively. ADSL service is provided by most ISPs present in the internet market, at similar prices. These providers include:


41, Avenue Kheireddine Pacha 1002 Tunis

Tel : (216) 71 84 73 73

Fax : (216) 71 84 09 30



11, rue du Niger, Centre Hanen, Bloc A, Appartement 1, 1002 Tunis

Téléphones : 71-288682 71-286988 71-280730 78-456666

Fax : 71-287754



Imm Pacha Centre, Bloc B, 1er étage, 75 avenue Kh Pacha 1073 Tunis

Tél : 71 780 900

Fax : 71 951 031



16, Rue de Syrie Bloc C 1001 Tunis

Tel : +216 71 835235

Fax: +216 71 831643.



GobalNet immeuble Ennour centre urbain nord 1082 Tunis

Tel : (216) 71 71 2000

Fax : (216) 71 708 008/ Hotline : 71 708 708


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/14/2005 6:44 AM

Personal mail can be sent and received via air pouch and international mail. Air pouch service from the Department averages 10-12 days and is dispatched three times weekly. International mail is less reliable and can take up to 2 weeks. Outgoing diplomatic air pouch service may be used for personal letter mail, audio and videocassette tapes, prescription medications, eyeglasses, orthopedic supplies, periodicals, and parcels. The Department permits the return of merchandise ordered from U.S. vendors via pouch, with an endorsement stating that the item (which is being returned for exchange) was purchased in and received from the U.S. Parcels containing such material must bear the correct U.S. postage. The Department will not forward any mail that does not have the correct postage. The Department does not provide UPS entry services.

Parcels should not exceed 50 pounds or measure more than 17x18x32 inches. Parcels should be securely wrapped since pouches are not handled carefully in transit. Glass containers and liquids of any kind, including aerosols, are strictly prohibited by Department pouch regulations. For additional restrictions, see 5 FAH 521, 5 FAH 524, and 5 FAH 525. The Department will return prohibited items to the sender and the addressee will be so informed via email. The Department accepts parcels at its Dulles Airport Facility from the USPS, UPS, and personal delivery for onward forwarding to post. The Department does not provide insurance and registry services for articles sent via pouch. Though insured or registered items will be forwarded via pouch, the Department accepts no liability for loss or damage. In addition to international mail, post has established a "Homeward Bound" mail service, which is administered by the USGERA commissary. For a fee, employees are allowed to mail personal packages through the diplomatic pouch.

Embassy pouch mail and return address:



Your Name

Department of State

6360 Tunis Place

Washington, D.C. 20521-6360

FSI Arabic Language Field School:

Your Name

Department of State (FSI)

6360 Tunis Place

Washington, D.C. 20521-6360


Your Name

6360 Tunis Place

Dulles, VA 20189-6360

International Mail

Local postal facilities (Tunisian PTT) can be used to send and receive personal letters and parcel mail. Parcels sent or received require customs clearance. The Embassy will assist in customs formalities on parcels received. However, those who use local postal facilities must appear personally at the post office when sending parcels, with all packaging supplies (box, tape, string, etc.), to close the parcel following customs inspection. In each case, the sender or recipient is responsible for customs and postal fees.

Embassy international mail and return address:

Your name

American Embassy

(Agency abbreviation)

Les Berges du Lac

1053 Tunis, Tunisia

Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/7/2005 9:43 AM

Local radio stations broadcast in both French and Arabic on standard AM frequencies. There are five local FM stations- four in Arabic, the other in French, with daily one-hour broadcasts in Spanish, English, German, and Italian. A shortwave radio offers wider reception. For example, with a shortwave radio, limited U.S. Armed Forces and VOA broadcasts can be heard evenings, and BBC broadcasts can be heard during the day.

There are two TV channels broadcast in Tunisia - both in Arabic - Channel 7 and an educational channel. Some can also pick up a third - RAI Uno - which offers programing relayed from Italy; it operates 24 hours daily.

Armed Forces Network (AFN) programming is available to Embassy staff. There are 10 video and 14 audio stations offering sports, sitcoms, dramas, talk shows, movies, documentaries, news programs and music from the U.S.

Black-and-white TV sets manufactured for the American market work in Tunisia. However, color sets made for the U.S. market do not. Only color sets that receive the PAL and SECAM systems function in Tunisia. These television sets may be purchased locally or in Europe. A local color TV of good quality costs from TD 450 to 1,500 (approximately $380-$1270), depending on size. Multisystem TVs are available for purchase at the duty-free store by individuals with duty-free privileges.

Both analog and digital satellite receivers can be purchased on the local market. The following satellites can be reached with a receiver in Tunisia: ASTRA (19 degrees east), Hot Bird (13 degrees east), Telecom 2A-2B (8 degrees west), ARAB SAT (26 degrees east), and NILE SAT (7 degrees west). Analog TV satellite receivers cost about TD 300 ($254) and digital receivers cost about TD 650 ($550).

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:42 AM

The most important daily newspapers are the following: Ash-Shourouq, the largest circulation independent, Arabic-language newspaper; As-Sabah, an independent daily; and La Presse, a government-owned French-language newspaper. The bilingual (Arabic/French) weekly magazine Realites is the most respected opinion magazine. The weekly newspaper Tunisia News is the only locally published English-language periodical.

The International Herald Tribune arrives in Tunis late on the day of publication. It is available on the newsstands for $1 a copy. International editions of Time and Newsweek may be purchased at newsstands a day after publication for about $2. Magazines and newspapers sent via the Department arrive 2-3 weeks after publication.

A library at the Embassy's CLO office is available to American personnel. The Public Affairs Section, the British Council, and the American Cooperative School also have library facilities that can be used with permission.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:47 AM

A State Department Foreign Service Health Practitioner (FSHP) who serves as the Post Medical Officer, an EFM part-time RN, a locally-hired Tunisian physician, and a Medical Office Manager staff the Health Unit, which located in the Embassy. The regional medical officers (RMO) and the regional psychiatrist (RMOP) are posted in Cairo and Athens and visit this post on a regular basis. The Health Unit provides a full Family Practice Primary Care service including consultation and treatment, laboratory analysis, and management of chronic diseases.

The Health Practitioner handles most medical problems at the Health Unit. Certain health problems require specialty consultation with local specialists. For the most part, medical doctors received their training in Tunisia, France, or the U.S. An American-certified ophthalmologist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, pediatricians, and general surgery doctors are on our consultants roster. All physicians speak French and some also speak English.

Several dentists provide adequate general dental services, orthodontic, and periodontal care. Local laboratory and X-ray facilities are equipped with modern, and some digital, diagnostic equipment. The Health Unit staff monitors the safety of the facilities and quality of the services.

Local pharmacies are stocked with French products, and some French derivatives of American prescription drugs, at a reasonable cost. The Health Unit has a small pharmacy, primarily to treat acute illnesses, and is not a "supply" pharmacy. Individuals taking any chronic medications, such as anti-hypertensives, birth control pills, etc., should bring at least a six-month supply with them. Renewal prescriptions can be written by the FSHP and faxed to a U.S. pharmacy for filling. Medco or Express Scripts are the main pharmacies used by Health Unit patients. Information on these services can be found in the Health Benefits Brochure provided by the employee's health insurance carrier.

Employees and dependents with medical conditions that require emergency hospitalization are referred to one of the local private polyclinics (for acute emergencies). If treatment is deemed necessary, patients are evacuated to the designated medevac point for Tunisia, which is London. Daily flights are available between the two countries. A patient may elect, on a cost-constructive basis, to travel elsewhere, i.e. CONUS. Excellent Tunisian diagnostic facilities are available: CT scan, ultrasound, and MRI (two centers in Tunis), but test interpretation and technique is often much different than what is customary in the United States.

Community Health Last Updated: 2/8/2005 1:02 PM

Public sanitation standards, although improving, are lower than in Western Europe. However, trash and garbage are collected daily in many neighborhoods in Tunis and its suburbs. The municipal water system in Tunis has been tested in areas where American diplomats reside and the water is considered potable. Many people prefer to purchase bottled water due to the unpleasant taste of highly chlorinated tap water. Sewage system quality depends on locality. There are areas in the northern suburbs, for example, where sewage is pumped by truck on a weekly basis. The Tunis municipal sewage system is being enlarged and made more efficient.

The lovely beaches surrounding Tunis are often considered polluted by U.S. standards and unsafe for bathing. The Health Unit monitors these waters periodically.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/9/2004 5:06 AM

Americans generally remain healthy during tours here. Health problems are similar to what is expected in Western Europe or Washington, D.C. Environmental allergies are a significant problem in Tunisia, as are year round viral and upper respiratory tract infections. Extensive stool analysis has revealed that parasitic disease is no more common here than it is in the United States. The Embassy Health Unit provides an up-to-date medical handbook to all newcomers. A newcomer orientation is mandatory for those assigned to Embassy Tunis.

Recommended immunizations include: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies (Human Diploid Cell vaccine), Tetanus, meningococcal meningitis and oral typhoid vaccine. Malaria and Yellow Fever are not endemic to Tunisia.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/26/2005 3:43 AM

Spouses and dependents may work in the local economy only if they can perform a job requiring special skills for which Tunisians are not trained. Fluency in French or Arabic is a requirement for most of these jobs. A work permit, which the employer requests from the Ministry of Social Affairs, is required and difficult to get. The Government of Tunisia has been unwilling, thus far, to enter into a bilateral dependent employment agreement.

At any one time, the Mission (including USGERA) has about 6-10 employment opportunities for qualified eligible family members. These are mixed among PIT, FMA, peak-season, summer, full and part-time positions. Such jobs have tended to be administrative, clerical, secretarial, and of varying lengths (i.e., from a few days to a year or more). Many require a security clearance. Some family members at post have created self-employment opportunities. Interested family members should consult with the Family Liaison Office. Post employs a full-time Community Liaison Officer (CLO) and a full-time Consular Associate. Additionally, there are three escort-secretary positions, which are "When Actually Employed" positions. The Embassy has a summer employment program for employees' children aged 16 and older.

Teaching positions are sometimes available at the American Cooperative School of Tunisia. Interested individuals should apply before arrival, by writing to the Director, in care of the Embassy. Those trained and certified in teaching "English as a Second Language" may apply for one of the few positions occasionally available with Tunisian agencies.

American Embassy - Tunis

Post City Last Updated: 1/6/2005 7:59 AM

Tunis is built on the west bank of a shallow salt lake on Tunisia's northeastern Mediterranean coast. It has been the capital of what is now Tunisia since the 13th century. Tunis is really two cities - the old Arab town (the medina) with its narrow shop-lined streets, and the modern city that has grown up around the medina over the last century. Tunis continues to grow at a fast pace. Metropolitan Tunis covers about 1,600 square miles. According to the most recent statistics, the population of metropolitan Tunis is over 1.8 million.

Tunis is the center of Government and is an active commercial center and seaport. More than fifty countries are represented in Tunisia with resident diplomatic missions and 40 countries are non-resident.

Tunis has four seasons, with spring and fall being the most pleasant. Summers are hot and dry. Winters are rainy and damp with days of brilliant sunshine intervening. Except at the highest altitudes, the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tunis is an enjoyable post, with its good climate and many opportunities for sightseeing, cultural enrichment, and recreation. Despite its proximity to Europe and its cultural diversity, Tunisia is very much a part of the Arab World. Information about Tunisia can easily be obtained on the Internet. Sites such as,, and offer information and pictures about life in Tunisia.

Security Last Updated: 1/11/2005 2:12 AM


The Department of State rates Tunisia a medium threat country for crime. Most incidents involve pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves in high traffic tourist areas, day and night, such as the Tunis Medina and central market as well as other large cities countrywide. Burglaries are occurring with more frequency but do not exclusively focus on the expatriate community, a trend that has caused even Tunisian families of moderate means to improve their residential security by installing grillwork over their windows and doors. Privately, many Tunisians acknowledge that crime is on the increase as the growing middle-class offers criminals more opportunity for theft. Residential break-ins can occur at night and when homes are often unoccupied. Burglars, while assumed to be ready for confrontation, generally choose flight rather than fight if caught in the act. Violent crime remains relatively rare in affluent areas where most expatriates reside.


The most significant safety threat a visitor to Tunisia faces is the indigenous style of driving. Local drivers rarely use lanes designated for turns, often preferring to cut across from center lanes; rarely look before changing lanes, a particular problem in heavy traffic; do not yield right away on merges; commonly jump traffic lights or speed through intersections on the red. Visitors are encouraged not to drive themselves and to always wear seatbelts. Good defensive driving skills are recommended.

Visitors and residents should bring an approved car seat for infants and young children. For visitors or residents who must drive, ensure that a sufficient braking distance is maintained between your vehicle and those in front of you and remain conscious of persons crossing the road. Pedestrians rarely use cross walks and often venture into the road without regard for oncoming traffic.

Political Violence

Tunisia is a moderate, Muslim country that has enjoyed relative peace and political stability since gaining its independence from France in 1956. President Ben Ali continues to place a high priority on fighting terrorism and maintaining law and order. Tunisia's dependence on tourism as a source of convertible currency has contributed, in part, to the continued expansion of the internal security services over the past decade. Acutely aware of the potential economic damage that would result from a foreign perception of Tunisia as an unsafe or unstable country, the security services are highly visible and ensure that the country's image remains one of tranquil stability.

Post-Specific Concerns

There are no specific security or safety concerns for U.S. businesses or American citizens living in or visiting Tunisia. However, visitors should be aware that English is not widely spoken in Tunisia. Individuals without the ability to communicate in French or Arabic will find conducting personal or professional business difficult. Women should avoid walking alone outside after sundown, especially in the beach area.

The Tunisian police are relatively well trained and professional. Acutely aware of the need to maintain its image abroad and protect its tourism industry, the police are generally responsive to visitors in need of assistance and ensure that their presence is particularly high in areas frequented by tourists or foreign nationals. By law, Tunisian police officers can and do conduct random traffic stops. Visitors who are briefly detained by the police are encouraged to remain cooperative and professional, traits that the police will appreciate and that will likely assist in expediting a quick resolution to an arbitrary police stop. Police and National Guard personnel are generally responsive to the needs of visitors.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/6/2005 7:49 AM

The U.S. Mission in Tunisia consists of the Department of State, including the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Regional Office, the Foreign Service Institute's (FSI) Arabic Language Field School, the U.S Defense Attaché's Office (USDAO), the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), and the Office of the Agricultural Affairs (OAA).

A new Embassy compound was completed and occupied in November 2002. This modern facility is located on a 20-acre site, halfway between downtown Tunis and the northern suburbs of La Marsa, Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, and Gammarth. The average commute for most employees is 15-20 minutes. The American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) is located directly across the road from the Embassy. Except for the American Battle Monuments Commission and the FSI Field School, all Mission offices are located on the Embassy compound.

The Embassy compound is located between La Marsa Highway and La Goulette Road, near the Berges du Lac commercial and residential area. Telephone number is 71-107-000, fax: 71-107-090.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Regional Office is located in the Embassy. MEPI is the U.S. Government's flagship program for supporting reform in the Middle East and North Africa. The Regional Office coordinates MEPI activities in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. Telephone: 71-107-055; Fax: 71-107-436.

The Foreign Service Institute's Arabic Language Field School is located at Impasse du 3 Aout (near the Ambassador's residence) in the suburb of Sidi Bou Said. Telephone: 71-741-672; Fax: 71-741-062.

The American Battle Monuments Commission administers the only American cemetery in North Africa. The cemetery is located in the suburb of Carthage. Buried or commemorated there are 6,565 Americans who died in the North Africa campaigns of World War II. The impressive grounds include a memorial, a small chapel, and a visitors' building. Telephone: 71-747-767; fax: 71-747-051.

Regular Embassy office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., with 45 minutes for lunch. Special summer hours are in effect during July and August with work hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

American citizen employees of the Department of State are paid through the Payroll Center in Charleston, South Carolina, by direct deposit to a U.S. checking account.

The Embassy Administrative Section provides varying degrees of administrative support services to all agencies in accordance with the International Cooperative Administrative Support Service (ICASS) agreement made with each agency.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:29 AM

The Embassy makes every effort to have an employee's permanent housing ready for occupancy so the employee can move in upon arrival. When permanent housing is not yet available, the Embassy prepares temporary housing for incoming employees. Typically the Embassy uses a vacant house or apartment for temporary housing. In the rare case that a hotel must be used, there are very good tourist hotels available at prices that do not exceed the lodging allowance.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:30 AM

Ambassador's Residence. The residence was built by OBO in 1974 and is located on a hill in Sidi Bou Said overlooking the Bay of Tunis. The architecture blends Arab and American styles. The residence grounds cover about 5 acres. A clay tennis court is located between the entrance gate and side gardens. A swimming pool and two changing rooms are located at the back. A small parking area, a garage for one large car, and houses for three staff members are also located on the grounds.

The residence contains both the Ambassador's private living quarters and an area for official entertaining. A foyer with a large atrium is used for receptions or informal dancing. The official area has a cloakroom, powder rooms, salon, and tearoom with a fireplace. A staircase at the far end of the salon leads down to the formal dining room. Off this room are the kitchen, pantry, laundry, and storage rooms containing refrigerators, freezers, dryer, and washer.

The residence is fully decorated and furnished. Crested china, glassware, and silver are provided. The kitchen is equipped with essentials. A guest suite is located off the main entrance. The suite includes two bedrooms, each with a private bath, and a small balcony. The main entrance, or a separate one, can be used to enter the family living quarters. These consist of a family living/dining room, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a small kitchen on the lower level. The upper level has a family sitting room with a fireplace and a balcony with space for a table and chairs. Storage space is ample. Although the residence is provided with linens for the representational areas, bring a small supply of your own for family use on the private side of the house.

DCM's Residence. This older house, located in Carthage, was formerly the Ambassador's residence. It contains an entry hall, large living room, formal dining room seating up to 26 people, library opening onto a terrace, two powder rooms, family dining room, and kitchen/pantry on the first floor. The second floor has a master bedroom and adjoining study and bath, three twin bedrooms and two baths, plus two smaller rooms and bath. A large balcony runs across the front with a wonderful view of the Bay of Tunis and the Mediterranean beyond. The house has a large, shady garden and a terrace for entertaining. Small servants' quarters and a large carport are behind the house.

The living room and dining room have traditional furnishings. The library/sitting room has a fireplace and is more informal. The residence is furnished with all necessary major appliances.

Other Government-owned and Government-leased Quarters. The general level of housing for Americans is very good. Senior officers with representational responsibilities will find their quarters more than adequate for the entertaining their positions require. All agencies at post participate in the Housing pool, and all State offices participate in a furniture pool. All agencies except Treasury provide a full set of appliances and furniture for occupants.

Post has some government-owned houses that are normally assigned only to employees of foreign affairs agencies. More than three-quarters of post employees are assigned to leased residences. All residences are assigned by an Inter-agency Housing Board before the arrival of incoming employees in accordance with grade and family size and, to the extent possible, considering special needs or wishes of the employee if they have been provided to CLO in writing prior to assignment. Each residence has central heating with air-conditioners in occupied bedrooms and in the living room. Nearly all homes are located in the northern suburbs of Gammarth, La Marsa, and other surrounding communities; a few are located near downtown Tunis. Homes typically have many of the elegant Tunisian touches such as balconies and marble floors and countertops, while offering both comfort and modern amenities for the occupants.

China, glassware, kitchen and eating utensils, and bed and bathroom linens are not furnished and should be included in your household shipment. Include some of the most important items in your airfreight. If possible, bring 220v, 50-cycle appliances and electronics. However, note that every residence is issued three 220v to 110v step-down transformers. 220v equipment of all kinds is readily available locally, but is significantly more expensive than in the U.S.

There are private video clubs in Tunis as well as a growing DVD lending library at the USGERA commissary. Toys, children's birthday party presents, beach toys, and a child's pool are other important items you might want to include. Toys are available locally but may not meet standard U.S. requirements. Locally made stuffed animals, for example, do not generally meet U.S. safety standards. If you have an infant, be sure to include in your shipment all baby items that you might need, such as a stroller, high chair, crib, etc.

A Welcome Kit of blankets, pillows, bed and bath linens, dishes, and pots and pans is available to all employees until their effects arrive.

Marine Security Guard Detachment. The Marine House is located on the Embassy compound. The house consists of a kitchen, dining room, TV room, living room (with bar), and bedrooms. The living room and bar open onto a terrace and backyard. The house is completely furnished and has central heating and A/C.

The Detachment Commander is assigned by the Inter-agency Housing Board to a fully furnished residence from the Mission housing pool.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:31 AM

The Ambassador and DCM occupy fully furnished residences with representational silver, china, glassware, and linens. The officer and staff quarters have basic furniture and equipment. Bring china, pictures, and knickknacks to make your home more livable. Inexpensive chaise lounges will be useful in Tunisia with its beautiful summer weather and proximity to beaches. Most Tunisian furniture is expensive, although both indoor and outdoor wrought iron furniture are good and relatively inexpensive.

Most floors are marble and mosaic tile; therefore, rugs are necessary. Rugs are provided in all living rooms and occupied bedrooms. Many people buy traditional handmade Tunisian rugs, which are attractive and available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and prices.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:31 AM

All quarters have hot and cold running water, toilet facilities, central hot-water heating, and air-conditioners in the living room and occupied bedrooms. All agencies except Treasury provide a full set of kitchen appliances and furniture for residents. Appliances include a stand-up freezer, refrigerator, range (usually gas), microwave, and washer and dryer. Dishwashers are usually provided, unless the kitchen cannot accommodate one.

All electric current in Tunis and its suburbs is 220v, 50 cycles. Most houses have sufficient electric supply to carry a 32 amp electric load. Most three and four-bedroom homes have enough electric supply to air condition only the bedrooms and the living room.

Telephones are permanently installed in all U.S. Government quarters. The subscriber pays telephone charges. Charges for calls within the metropolitan area are computed on a time basis and can add up quickly. The telephone company offers direct-dial international service with itemized telephone bills. Embassy employees may also access the Embassy's IVG lines after-hours for personal calls to the U.S.

Electric clocks requiring 60-cycle current cannot be used in Tunisia. Stereo equipment and other electric equipment that run on 60-cycle current should be adapted to 50 cycles before arrival in Tunisia. Repair and maintenance of U.S. equipment and appliances are very difficult in Tunis, because of the scarcity of spare parts.

Food Last Updated: 3/10/2005 10:07 AM

Meat, poultry, fish, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are available year round. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, tangerines, dates, strawberries, pomegranates, watermelon, fennel and asparagus, are especially delicious. Pasteurized and sterilized milk, eggs, and other dairy products are available. Tunisia has a limited commercial frozen food industry and limited selection of canned fruits and vegetables. Imported consumer products are becoming more available and less expensive as Tunisia's free-trade agreement with the EU is being implemented.

Prices for milk, sugar, bread, cereals and pasta, and gas are set by the Government. Fruit and vegetable prices are not fixed, but must be displayed in the market. During Ramadan and Aid, the Government fixes the kilo price of meat and sheep.

Some specialty food products, especially Asian products such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, coconut milk, etc., can be difficult to find, and others such as basmati and jasmine rice are available, but disappear quickly. There is no fresh ginger in Tunisia.

The opening of the French hypermarche, Carrefour, has greatly increased shopping options in Tunis. Carrefour rivals any large U.S. supermarket and is attached to a food court and a small gallery of clothing and other specialty stores. It is located 5 minutes from the Embassy. Other supermarket chains include Touta, Monoprix, and Bonprix. A Casino hypermarché (French chain), with attached 100-store mall, is being built on the outskirts of Tunis on the road to Bizerte.

The central market in downtown Tunis, though not practical for daily shopping for most Embassy families, has hundreds of stalls where produce, meat, fish, dairy products, etc., are sold. Pork can be purchased there and at a few other locations in the Tunis area, including Carrefour and the USGERA Commissary. Many neighborhoods have small central markets where produce, and sometimes meat or fish, can be purchased. The market in the northern suburb of La Marsa is popular with Embassy employees. Nearly every neighborhood has a small bakery where inexpensive, but fresh and delicious French-style breads and pastries can be purchased.

The U.S Government Employees Recreation Association (USGERA), open to all American U.S. Government employees, provides American items either not available locally or unusually expensive on the local market. An initial deposit of $250 for singles and $500 for families is required for membership and is refundable on departure. The commissary usually has a variety of canned fruits and vegetables, sugar, flour, coffee, tea, condiments, salad dressings, soups, cooking oil, shortening, crackers, cookies, peanut butter, jellies, rice, cake mixes, frosting, milk, soft drinks, liquor, paper products, sanitary items, laundry supplies, cleansers, polishes, pet food, film and disposable cameras, cigarettes, aspirin, toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo, and other items. Large freezer chests are stocked with frozen meats, hot dogs, cheeses, tortillas, vegetables, pizzas, English muffins, bagels, orange juice, etc.

Commissary prices are higher than in U.S. supermarkets due to transportation charges and supplier surcharge imposed by the DOD commissary system. Shortages can occur from time to time because of unavoidable shipping problems, so you may wish to bring a supply of your favorite food items. Tunis does not have a consumables allowance. Under Tunisian Government regulations, individual orders for food and liquor are not permitted for personnel not on the diplomatic list.

U.S. Government employees on the diplomatic list are allowed to shop at two local duty-free shops that sell imported and local products, including food, liquor, household decorations, and electronic equipment.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/11/2005 7:32 AM

A normal Washington, D.C., wardrobe is suitable for Tunis. Lightweight, washable clothing can be worn from May through October. Lightweight woolens can be worn the rest of the year. Winters are cold, damp, rainy, and windy so a warm jacket, raincoat, and umbrella are essential.

Clothing can be purchased locally, and while the choice is growing, prices are relatively high for imported clothes. Many employees order clothing from the U.S. via catalogs and the internet. A wide variety of mail-order catalogs are available at the CLO office.

Good seamstresses and tailors are available in Tunis, but they can be expensive. The cost of having a long dress made may be more than $100, not including fabric. A good suit may cost more than $200. Locally made sandals and summer shoes are inexpensive and comfortable, but not durable.

DoD Personnel. Since civilian clothing is the duty uniform in Tunisia, you will need more civilian clothes than usual. Summer/winter civilian clothing allowance is Civilian clothing is the duty uniform in Tunisia, so you will need more civilian clothes than usual. Summer/winter civilian clothing allowance is authorized for enlisted personnel. See also Special Information.

Men Last Updated: 1/11/2005 7:13 AM

Day and evening dress is comparable to Washington, D.C. Bring three to six year-round suits and three summer suits/sports coats in wash-and-wear fabrics. Include a dark suit for evening wear. Black tie is only needed on special occasions and even then, it is usually optional. Bring a good supply of shoes, shirts, underwear, socks, and bathing suits.

Women Last Updated: 1/11/2005 7:13 AM

Female employees normally dress as they would in the Washington, D.C., area, although daytime apparel for non-working women is casual. Street-length dresses or formal pants suits are usually worn to dinner parties. Cocktail dresses or suits are also useful for late day or evening occasions. Dresses with jackets are especially useful in this climate, as are sweaters, shawls, and coats. Winter jackets are also needed. Bring a good supply of shoes, stockings, underwear, and bathing suits.

Children Last Updated: 1/11/2005 7:14 AM

Children need the same kind of clothes here that they need in the Washington, D.C., area. Few heavy garments are needed, but bring plenty of sweaters, warm jackets or coats, umbrellas and rainboots. Bring plenty of clothes, shoes, and boots for children.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/27/2005 7:19 AM

Bring a sufficient supply of your favorite toiletries and cosmetics and make arrangements for resupply. Many brands are sold locally, but they are expensive. The U.S. Government Employees' Recreation Association (USGERA) Commissary stocks toothpaste, deodorants, body lotions, razor blades, hairspray, shampoo, shaving cream, mouthwash, and some vitamins. Bring basic household medicines, baby bottles, a thermometer, baby furniture (crib, stroller, playpen), contact lens solution, stationery, toys, household linens, and baby formula. The latter is not stocked by Commissary and can be ordered by individuals only by caselot. Reliable baby formula can, however, be bought locally at pharmacies. Major brand diapers and baby wipes are available. Many Embassy families order these items online. Since local availability is sporadic, plan to bring any favorite entertainment items, housekeeping and gardening items, tools, electric kitchen appliances, picnic equipment, folding lawn chairs, batteries, and camping and sports equipment.

The more common sizes of black-and-white and color film (Kodak and Agfa) are available locally but are expensive. The Commissary carries Kodak color film and disposable cameras,and offers a photo processing service. Developing of black and white film is poor.

Many employees use the internet to buy needed supplies and clothing.

You should bring basic spare parts, such as air and oil filters, for American or certain makes of Japanese cars not sold locally, e.g. Honda. Tires can be purchased locally. Prices for locally-manufactured tires are reasonable, but better quality, imported tires, such as Michelin and Goodyear, can cost $150-200 each to install.

Tunisian wines are inexpensive. Many are excellent, but some, particularly white wines, are inconsistently good. Soft drinks are made and sold locally, including Coca Cola. Liquor, European and American beers and soft drinks are available at the Commissary, the duty-free shops. Many local grocery stores carry some alcoholic beverages, but anything produced outside the country will cost 5-10 times what one might pay duty-free, and the selection will be less extensive. Bring favorite brands of pipe tobacco and cigars.

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/27/2005 7:23 AM

Shoe repair is adequate and inexpensive. Dry cleaning is available and reasonable. Beauty salons and barbershops are plentiful and inexpensive; service ranges from unsatisfactory to outstanding, and most are inexpensive by Washington, D.C., standards. Labor costs for automobile repair are very low. It may be difficult to have complicated work done. For American and certain Japanese cars, e.g Honda, parts may need to be imported.

The USGERA commissary offers an "Errand Day" every Friday which brings local services to the Embassy, including dry cleaning, framing, photo developing, shoe repair, and dressmaking/mending. A tailor also visits occasionally.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/6/2005 9:10 AM

Domestic help costs approximately $350 per month for a housekeeper who works full-time (five days a week, 8-2 p.m.), although salaries vary. Most domestics speak some French, but few speak English. Work-accident insurance for household help and gardeners is mandatory. The employer is expected to provide lunch for a housekeeper or nanny who works a full day. Salary will need to include the cost of transportation to your home, and holiday gratuities are a locally accepted custom.

Gardeners typically work one or two shifts of 2-3 hours each week for $80-100 per month. Most will do basic horticulture, although skill level varies. Some will also clean terraces and wash cars.

The CLO maintains a file of domestics seeking employment with Americans. It is generally difficult, but not impossible, to find live-in help. Although domestics are not included in the Tunisian Government's social security system, some Tunisian customs must be respected e.g., provision for one day off a week for full-time help, and 12 days paid vacation after one year of employment. No regulation exists for separation pay, but it is usual to give one week's salary for each year of employment.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 3/14/2005 10:16 AM

Tunis has Muslim, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, and Greek and Russian Orthodox congregations. Catholic and Protestant services are available in French and English. Most observant Roman Catholics attend St. Augustin-St. Fidele Catholic Church in La Goulette. St. George's Anglican Church, located in downtown Tunis near the medina, is the principal Protestant church and offers English services and a small English-language Sunday school. The only Jewish synagogue operating in the Tunis area is in the suburb of La Goulette. For those who keep kosher, there is a hallal butcher who comes on a regular basis.

See the Embassy newsletter, The Mosaic, for mass and service schedules.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/6/2005 9:00 AM
The American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) was established in 1959 and has facilities for more than 450 children from pre-school through 12th grade. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited it through Grade 12 in 1998. The school has a web site:

Instructors are certified teachers from the U.S. and international communities. Instruction at the school is in English. French and Arabic (optional) are taught in grades 1 to 12. The school's curriculum is similar to and compares favorably with those in U.S public schools. Almost all American children attend the school, as do children from other diplomatic missions.

As soon as you know you will be enrolling a child in ACST, advise the school of the number of children and age/grade level expected to enter. All new students are tested before admission to determine grade placement. A registration form with its attached health sheet must be completed and presented along with academic records from former schools.

School begins in late August or early September, and continues until mid-June. Hours are 8 a.m.-3:15 p.m.; pre-schoolers can go until noon or a full day. Bus transportation at an extra fee is available except for the return trip of half-day kindergarten and pre-K students.

Public Tunisian and private French schools are available at all levels, including high school. Preschools are usually operated in converted rooms in private houses. This can amount to a limited play area by American standards. There is one English-speaking preschool (Jardin) in the northern suburbs area. The monthly tuition is about $180. French-language preschools in town are $90 per month. A few private French nurseries are open in Tunis and its suburbs for 3- and 4-year-olds. They operate from September to June, five mornings and four afternoons a week, and cost about $60 a month. French is not required for entry.

Tunisian public and private schools are similar to those in France. From a U.S. point of view, the French and Tunisian schools have a rigid curriculum and long hours of class work. Fluency in French is imperative. Primary school instruction is in Arabic; secondary school instruction is in both Arabic and French.

Americans have sent their children, with mixed results, to one of the two French lycées operating in Tunis (Mutuelleville) and La Marsa. Lycées start in mid-September and run through June. Annual tuition is considerably less than at ACST; however, parents must pay for textbooks and supplies.

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/6/2005 9:00 AM
In 2004, one high school student attended school away from post in the U.S. Children of Americans posted to Tunis often attend high school in England, Switzerland, or Italy. The away-from-post allowance generally covers expenses at U.S. boarding schools plus two roundtrips to Tunis. Brochures for boarding schools are available at post, as well as at FLO in the Department.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 1/6/2005 9:01 AM

Because of the American Cooperative School's size, no special education classes are offered. However, some limited assistance is available for children with learning disabilities.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/6/2005 9:02 AM

Adults can take intensive language courses at the Bourguiba Institute and the French cultural center, and regular classes at the University of Tunis, although required proficiency in French could be a limiting factor. The Community Liaison Office in the Embassy has brochures on a wide range of correspondence courses available in the U.S.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 2/4/2005 7:02 AM

The Embassy and American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) are jointly funding the construction of a new recreation facility on the Embassy grounds, which will be managed by U.S. Government Employees' Recreation Association (USGERA). The project is scheduled for completion by June 2005. The facility will include a fitness center, a small playground, a 25-meter swimming pool (recreational/competitive), a children's pool, dressing rooms, restrooms, a covered pavilion, an outdoor patio, grassy areas, and a snack bar.

Swimming. There is an indoor, Olympic-size municipal pool in La Marsa, which is heated in winter. Low-cost monthly memberships are available. Many hotels allow non-guests to swim in their pools for a small fee. Beaches close to Tunis and its suburbs occasionally have been found to be contaminated and unsafe for swimming, but there are good swimming/picnicking beaches located 45 minutes to an hour outside town. The Health Unit can advise on current conditions.

Gyms. The Embassy currently has a small exercise room with several pieces of equipment and some free weights available for use by employees. There are a number of gyms in the northern suburbs, and hotels often allow non-guests access to their fitness centers for a fee. Aerobics, yoga and pilates classes are available at some locations.

Tennis. The La Marsa Tennis Club near the Embassy has several tennis courts. The Hotel Cap Carthage in Gammarth has 25 courts. Memberships are not required to use the courts or to take lessons. Prices are comparable at both locations - court fees TD 5 (approximately $4.50) per hour; lessons TD 15 (approximately $13.00) per hour. There is a court at the Ambassador's Residence available for employee use during specific days/hours. Bring tennis balls to post; local ones are expensive and of poor quality.

Golf. There is an 18-hole golf course in La Soukra - about 3 miles from the Embassy - that is popular with Embassy employees. The course is good from October to June, but is dry in summer. Annual dues are about TD 800 (approximately $678) per person. Anyone can play at the course, but non-members must pay a green fee, which is relatively expensive. Lessons can be arranged with the resident golf pros and prices are reasonable. There are numerous golf courses located in outside of Tunis, including Hammamet (a beach resort less than one hour south of Tunis), Port El-Kantaoui and Monastir (both near Sousse), Tabarka, and on the island of Djerba.

Other. Many Embassy employees enjoy jogging. Some manage to successfully negotiate routes along city streets despite the traffic, while others run in quieter areas adjacent to the Embassy grounds. The Hash House Harriers host runs every Saturday and organize several weekend trips during the year. Adult sports such as softball, handball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, tennis, basketball, and soccer are often available depending on interest. Horseback riding, including instruction for adults and children, is available at a variety stables in and around Tunis.

Hunting. Wild game is in season from September to June. You can use a shotgun for small game hunting. Open season dates vary only slightly each year and are published in August. Quail, duck, snipe, partridge, and wild boar are the most common game. Hunters are limited exclusively to shotguns in the pursuit of game, and 12-gauge is the most common. Rifle slugs are required for boar hunting; buckshot is prohibited. Hunters must have a permit for the weapon, a hunting license, and insurance. See Also-Firearms and Ammunition.

Fishing. Although fishing is popular among Tunisians, especially from nearby beaches and harbors, a lack of bottom structure, such as coral reefs or rocky bottom, contributes to poor catches. Tackle shops offer only poor quality basic equipment, imported from France or Italy, at considerably higher prices than in the U.S.

Children's activities. Basketball, soccer, hockey, judo, choir, ballet, and various craft classes are available at ACST. There is T-ball and Little League baseball on Saturdays at the ACST school grounds. There are several bowling alleys in the northern suburbs of Tunis.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 2/4/2005 7:06 AM

Opportunities for touring and outdoor activities in Tunisia are endless - sightseeing trips to Punic, Roman, Byzantine, and Berber ruins scattered throughout the country, desert treks, national parks, museums, exploring the Medina - to name a few, as well as more simple pursuits such as relaxing at the beach, swimming, tennis, golf, horseback riding and other organized activities.

The CLO organizes frequent group outings and tours to local points of interest and out-of-town locations. Past trips have included visits to an olive oil factory, a chocolate factory, and a winery. Each December, the CLO organizes a trip through southern Tunisia to attend the camel festival in Douz, gateway to the Sahara, and to visit some of the many historical and cultural points of interest in the area.

There are many activities possible in the greater Tunis area. A playground and a zoo are located in Belvedere Park in downtown Tunis. The Bardo Museum in Tunis contains the largest and most beautiful collection of Roman mosaics in the world as well as Punic and Roman statues, coins, and jewelry. In Berges du Lac, near the Embassy, there is a large amusement park as well as many restaurants and cafes. This area is particularly lively in summer. Carthage has Roman and Punic ruins and archeological museums to visit. Facilities for swimming, tennis, golf and horseback riding are available. The Hash House Harriers host runs every Saturday and organize several weekend trips during the year, including a camping trip on Cap Bon.

The American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery and memorial are located in Carthage, and the staff provides personal guided tours for visitors.

Tunisia's main cities are all within easy driving distance of Tunis and are connected by good, paved roads:

About one hour south of Tunis are the towns of Hammamet and Nabeul, where you can swim at broad sandy beaches. Hammamet is a well-developed beach resort town with many hotels offering diversions and activities for singles and families. It is a frequent weekend getaway destination for Embassy employees. In Nabeul, you can watch Tunisian artisans work on rugs, baskets, and their famous pottery.

To the south, Sousse (87 miles) and Sfax (166 miles) are central Tunisian seaports. The old Arab sections (medinas) of both cities are still encircled by ancient ramparts and watchtowers. Sousse is a popular tourist spot with beautiful beaches. It has a small but excellent museum devoted to Roman and early Christian mosaics, and nearby are catacombs as extensive as those in Rome. Sfax is Tunisia's second largest city and a bustling commercial center. Just north of Sousse is Port El Kantaoui with an 18-hole golf course, picturesque harbor, luxury hotels, villas, riding school, tennis courts, pools, and beaches. Tunisian President Ben Ali's hometown of Hammam Sousse is nearby. The fortified town of Monastir is the site of an early Christian monastery. It is the birth and burial place of Tunisia's first President, Habib Bourguiba. Monastir has a fine beach and waterfront, many beachfront hotels, and a ribat (fort) (used as a setting in the Monty Python movie, "The Life of Brian"). Kairouan, 100 miles southwest of Tunis, is located in the center of a vast plain. Long a holy city to Muslims, it was founded in A.D. 670. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is the most interesting Islamic structure in Tunisia. Kairouan is also a renowned rug-making center.

About 350 miles south of Tunis is the palm-covered, white sand island of of Djerba, which retains much of the original Arab architecture. It has become a year-round destination for sun-seeking Europeans. The island is home to a long-standing Jewish community, and its beautiful synagogue at Ghriba is well worth a visit. The oases of Tozeur and Nefta, which produce fine dates, are 320 miles southwest of Tunis on the Algerian border and on the edge of the extensive Chott el Jerid, a dry salt lake. Trips into the nearby Sahara can be arranged through hotels and travel agencies. Excursions into the desert are becoming more and more popular, and it is easy to find companies offering camel treks and other kinds of excursions into the Sahara. Flights to both Djerba and Tozeur from Tunis are available year round. The best time of year to visit southern Tunisia is late fall to early spring when temperatures are cooler.

To the northwest of Tunis is the port city of Bizerte (40 miles), a short drive through pleasant countryside. Along the way you can visit the ruins of ancient Utica, just off the Bizerte highway. A few miles south of Bizerte is Lake Ichkeul, a nature reserve and stopping point for migratory birds. In far northwest, Ain Draham, in the cork and oak forests of the Kroumirie Mountains, and the coastal town of Tabarka offer a change of scenery and climate. At an altitude of 2,600 feet, Ain Draham is pleasantly cool in summer and often has snow in winter. The Roman ruins of Bulla Regia and Chemtou are located about 30 miles south. Tabarka is a picturesque town with good hotels, beaches, and a golf course. It is home to a summer jazz festival.

For several hundred years, Carthage was the premier trading center of the Mediterranean and Rome's chief rival. After Rome conquered the Carthaginians, Tunisia became the center of the Roman province of Africa. As the supplier of much of the food, wine and olive oil consumed in Rome itself, the area became quite wealthy. As a result, Roman and Punic ruins, some of them excellent, are scattered throughout Tunisia. Carthage is no more than 10 minutes by car from most Embassy homes. Extensive ruins are located within easy driving distance of Tunis at Dougga (70 miles), Thuburbo Majus (32 miles)(parts of the Roman aqueduct can be seen along the way), Sbeitla (160 miles) and El Djem (125 miles). El Djem has a coliseum second only to the one in Rome.

Berber dwellings can be seen and visited in the south, including the ksours around Tataouine and the hillside village of Chenini, and the still-occupied underground ("troglodyte") houses in Matmata. (The ksours and troglodyte houses may look familiar - sites in both Tataouine and Matmata were used as locales for the "Star Wars" movies.)

Tunisia is continuing an intensive program to improve tourist facilities throughout the country, including attractive modern hotels ranging from deluxe to economy. Train and bus transportation is available to most places of interest, but public transportation may be uncomfortable or inconvenient for longer distances. Many local travel agencies and hotels now operate modern air-conditioned buses, but to enjoy all that Tunisia has to offer outside the capital, you should have your own car.

After seeing all the great sites in Tunisia, there are many reasonably-priced, direct flights to locations throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the African Continent. Rome, Malta, the southern coast of France, and other Mediterranean destinations are enjoyable vacation spots for many on the Embassy staff.

Entertainment Last Updated: 2/8/2005 2:37 PM

The theater season in Tunis is November through May. Two companies present a series of 6-8 well-known French-language plays. The Tunis Symphony Orchestra gives monthly concerts from November through May. Guest soloists and touring groups appear occasionally. Theater and symphony performances take place at the municipal Theater in downtown Tunis. There are often local and touring art exhibits at the Bardo museum and others in and around Tunis. Music, theater, and dance festivals occur throughout the year at many venues, including Hammamet, El Djem, Dougga, Bizerte, Tabarka, and Djerba during the summer, the International Cultural Festival of Carthage in JulySeptember, a concert series at the Acropolium in Carthage in October, and Monastir's Drama Festival in August.

Other festivals celebrated in Tunisia during the year include the Orange Festival of Cap Bon in March, the Festival of the Hawks in El Haouaria (also Cap Bon) in April, and the Camel Festival in Douz in December.

Tunis and its suburbs have about 20 movie theaters that offer a wide selection of American and English films, dubbed in French. Italian, Spanish, and Egyptian films are also occasionally shown. Only a handful of the theaters are suitable for family outings. Cultural centers, notably the French and German, offer films at little or no charge to the public.

The Berges Du Lac area near the Embassy is an entertainment and commercial complex with a collection of shops, entertainment facilities, and restaurants. It is located on Lake Tunis and includes two bowling alleys, a water park, and an amusement park. There is a large shopping complex that features a supermarket and many clothing and jewelry stores, including a number of stores selling Western brands ranging from Benetton to Max Mara. Restaurants range from fast food to the more elegant and formal.

Restaurants in Tunis and environs are attractive and generally reasonablypriced. Tunisian restaurants usually serve good, but relatively simple fare such as grilled meat or fresh fish or traditional dishes such as couscous, chorba (soup), and tajine (a quiche-like egg dish, not the rich stew of Moroccan cuisine). The national dish is couscous — semolina (a specially processed wheat) prepared with vegetables, meat, fowl, or fish, and “harissa,” a sauce made of dried cayenne peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices. Harissa, with an extra bit of fresh olive oil and French bread for dipping, is served as a starter with most meals. Another favorite dish is “brik,” a thin fried pastry envelope with a runny egg, meat or tuna filling. Chwarma is a popular fast food. There are a few French, Italian and Asian restaurants. Popular restaurants in the city are: Dar El Jeld (in an old Arab house in the Medina), Chez Slah, and L’Astragale. In the beach area, Les Ombrelles, Le Golfe, Au Bon Vieux Temps, Dar Zarouk, and the White Elephant (Thai) are among the many to
choose from which to choose.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 2/4/2005 7:07 AM
Embassy employees frequently entertain at home. Barbeques are popular in the summer when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities. Other popular options are getting together at a restaurant, or at a café for a "café direct" and a croissant. Tunisian restaurants usually serve relatively simple fare such as grilled meat or fresh fish or traditional dishes such as couscous, chorba (soup) and tajine (a quiche-like egg dish, not the rich stew of Moroccan cuisine). Pasta dishes are common, as is pizza. There are a few French, Italian and Asian restaurants.

The CLO sponsors activities for Embassy employees and families, including day trips to local points of interest, longer trips to destinations outside of Tunis and out of the country (e.g. Egypt), wine and cheese parties, restaurant outings, and evenings at the Embassy featuring special cuisine and movies.

The Marine Security Guard Detachment hosts family-friendly "Happy Hours" most Friday nights as well as occasional movie nights. Each November, they host the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball at a local hotel. During football season, the Marines often open their home informally to Embassy employees to join in watching games on TV.

The Ambassador hosts Christmas and Easter parties for Embassy children every year at the Residence. (Santa arrives at the Christmas party on a camel!) There is also an Embassy holiday party attended by both Tunisian and American staff.

The U.S. Government Employees' Recreation Association (USGERA) hosts special theme nights throughout the year, an annual hail and farewell event, "Maghrebian Nights," featuring Tunisian cuisine, music and dancing, and a weekly darts night during the winter months.

The new Embassy recreation facility, scheduled to open in June 2005, will provide a gathering place for informal get-togethers as well as special events and activities.

Families. Play dates are a popular way for Embassy children to get together. There is T-ball and Little League on Saturdays at the American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST). ACST is the center of social activity for most school-aged children and plans many activities, including sporting events, trips, dances, picnics, and special events and celebrations.

International Contacts Last Updated: 4/4/2005 4:28 AM
The Embassy and American Cooperative School of Tunis (ACST) are jointly funding the construction of a new recreation facility on the Embassy grounds, which will be managed by U.S. Government Employees' Recreation Association (USGERA). The project is scheduled for completion by June 2005. The facility will include a fitness center, a small playground, a 25-meter swimming pool (recreational/competitive), a children's pool, dressing rooms, restrooms, a covered pavilion, an outdoor patio, grassy areas, and a snack bar.

Swimming. There is an indoor, Olympic-size municipal pool in La Marsa, which is heated in winter. Low-cost monthly memberships are available. Many hotels allow non-guests to swim in their pools for a small fee. Beaches close to Tunis and its suburbs occasionally have been found to be contaminated and unsafe for swimming, but there are good swimming/picnicking beaches located 45 minutes to an hour outside town. The Health Unit can advise on current conditions.

Gyms. The Embassy currently has a small exercise room with several pieces of equipment and some free weights available for use by employees. There are a number of gyms in the northern suburbs, and hotels often allow non-guests access to their fitness centers for a fee. Aerobics, yoga and pilates classes are available at some locations.

Tennis. The La Marsa Tennis Club near the Embassy has several tennis courts. The Hotel Cap Carthage in Gammarth has 25 courts. Memberships are not required to use the courts or to take lessons. Prices are comparable at both locations - court fees TD 5 (approximately $4.50) per hour; lessons TD 15 (approximately $13.00) per hour. There is a court at the Ambassador's Residence available for employee use during specific days/hours. Bring tennis balls to post; local ones are expensive and of poor quality.

Golf. There is an 18-hole golf course in La Soukra - about 3 miles from the Embassy - that is popular with Embassy employees. The course is good from October to June, but is dry in summer. Annual dues are about TD 800 (approximately $678) per person. Anyone can play at the course, but non-members must pay a green fee, which is relatively expensive. Lessons can be arranged with the resident golf pros and prices are reasonable. There are numerous golf courses located in outside of Tunis, including Hammamet (a beach resort less than one hour south of Tunis), Port El-Kantaoui and Monastir (both near Sousse), Tabarka, and on the island of Djerba.

Other. Many Embassy employees enjoy jogging. Some manage to successfully negotiate routes along city streets despite the traffic, while others run in quieter areas adjacent to the Embassy grounds. The Hash House Harriers host runs every Saturday and organize several weekend trips during the year. Adult sports such as softball, handball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, tennis, basketball, and soccer are often available depending on interest. Horseback riding, including instruction for adults and children, is available at a variety stables in and around Tunis.

Hunting. Wild game is in season from September to June. You can use a shotgun for small game hunting. Open season dates vary only slightly each year and are published in August. Quail, duck, snipe, partridge, and wild boar are the most common game. Hunters are limited exclusively to shotguns in the pursuit of game, and 12-gauge is the most common. Rifle slugs are required for boar hunting; buckshot is prohibited. Hunters must have a permit for the weapon, a hunting license, and insurance. See Also-Firearms and Ammunition.

Fishing. Although fishing is popular among Tunisians, especially from nearby beaches and harbors, a lack of bottom structure, such as coral reefs or rocky bottom, contributes to poor catches. Tackle shops offer only poor quality basic equipment, imported from France or Italy, at considerably higher prices than in the U.S.

Children's activities. Basketball, soccer, hockey, judo, choir, ballet, and various craft classes are available at ACST. There is T-ball and Little League baseball on Saturdays at the ACST school grounds. There are several bowling alleys in the northern suburbs of Tunis.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/5/2005 9:46 AM

The Ambassador and DCM regularly host official receptions, dinners, and luncheons at their residences. Other officers host official functions less frequently, and these events tend to be small dinners or working lunches at local restaurants.

Employees attending official functions are expected to assist the host and hostess in making the affair a success. Officers should arrive 10 minutes ahead of scheduled official functions at the Ambassador's residence.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/5/2005 9:47 AM

A briefing on protocol at post will be provided as part of the newcomer's orientation. Additional information on local protocol, official calls and general social procedure is available on arrival at post.

The Ambassador should bring at least 500 calling cards. The DCM and the section chiefs should bring about 300 cards. Many officers have cards printed at post in French and English or Arabic. Officers should also bring with them, or have printed at post, engraved invitation cards.

Arrival and departure announcements of diplomatic-list personnel are sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other diplomatic missions by the Embassy protocol office by diplomatic note.

Special Information Last Updated: 2/8/2005 1:11 PM

Visitors to Tunisia will find no restrictions on travel within the country, but care must be exercised in visiting the desert and certain frontier regions.

Department of Defense (DOD) Personnel

No U.S. military facilities (APO/FPO, PX/BX, etc.) exist in Tunisia and no military aircraft are assigned. The Defense Attaché Office (DAO) and the Office of Defense Cooperation-Tunisia (ODC) are the main U.S. military organizations, along with the Embassy Marine Security Guard. Also, some DOD military personnel, foreign area officers (FAOs), are assigned to the Foreign Service Institute in Tunis for Arabic-language studies and Middle East orientation travel and to the Command and Staff School. These students are attached to DAO for administrative purposes.

Housing. Some DAO personnel live in U.S. Government-owned quarters. Floor plans, pictures, and property listings for these quarters are on file with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Housing Office in Washington, D.C. Other DAO and all ODC personnel and FAO students are provided U.S. Government-leased quarters. Temporary lodging allowance is authorized for all DOD personnel until they are located in temporary or permanent quarters.

Furnishings. U.S. Government-owned basic furniture is available for DAO, DOD/FAO, and ODC personnel. Therefore, only shipment of 25% JTR HHG weight allowance plus 1,000 pounds hold baggage is authorized. Furnishings also include major appliances (stove, refrigerator, freezer, microwave, washer and dryer, and air-conditioning units). China, glassware, bed and bath linens, ironing boards, and kitchen utensils are not furnished.

If you are assigned to ODC, write to that office when you receive your orders for specific details on Government housing and furnishings. The address is: ODC Tunisia, 6360 Tunis Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-6360.
Uniform Requirements. Uniforms are worn frequently for official and social occasions in Tunisia and are required for temporary duty purposes in Europe. DOD personnel must arrive in Tunisia wearing civilian clothing. The normal duty uniform is civilian attire. Uniform requirements for the services are as follows:

Army Officers
Army Green (lightweight preferred)
Army Dress Blue (lightweight preferred)
Army Mess Blue (optional for officers; lightweight preferred)
Army Battle Dress Uniform

Army Enlisted
Army Green (lightweight preferred)
Army Blue (optional, lightweight preferred)
Army Battle Dress Uniform

Navy Officers
Service Dress Blue
Summer White
Service Dress White
Mess Dress

USMC Enlisted
Dress Blue A
Summer/Winter Service A
Summer Service C
Utility Uniform, Raincoat

Air Force Officers
Class A
Combination 1
Mess Dress

Air Force Enlisted
Class A
White shirt/bow tie

No field equipment is required for DAO or ODC personnel. However, DAO and ODC Army personnel should bring at least one BDU uniform with cap, boots, and field jackets; Navy personnel, one dungaree or working uniform. FSI military students should bring two sets of field uniforms, worn on occasional temporary duty and orientation tours outside Tunisia. FSI military students should bring all their uniforms because they may not return to the U.S. before reassignment.

Clothing. Since civilian clothing is the duty uniform in Tunisia, you will need more civilian clothes than usual. Civilian clothing allowance is authorized for enlisted and officer personnel. For DAO and ODC, civilian business suit or sport coat is duty uniform.

Dependent Education. Primary school-age children attend the American Cooperative School of Tunis, which offers preschool through Grade 12. High school has a small student population. Kindergarten is not a prerequisite for entry into first grade. The service pays tuition and fees for all DOD students attending this school. The service does not pay for Pre-K classes. High school dependents may be enrolled as dormitory students in the DOD high school at High Wycombe, U.K. Room and board and three round trips a year are paid by the service.

Language requirements. Defense Attaché personnel, the ODC Chief, and ODC Program officers must be proficient in French; attachés and their spouses should know conversational French. Most military conversations involving the DAO and ODC are in French, and French is usually spoken at diplomatic functions. It is desirable, but not essential, that the attachés be qualified in Arabic.

Dependents are encouraged to learn at least some French for a more enjoyable tour. Funds, if available, are authorized for language training of ODC and DAO attaché spouses at post.

Transportation for DOD Personnel. DOD personnel and their dependents performing PCS travel to Tunisia are required to make travel arrangements through the servicing transportation office.

Automobiles. See “Automobiles.” These apply to all DOD personnel.

Postal and Pouch. See “Mail and Pouch.”

Calling Cards. The Defense and Service attachés and their spouses will need calling cards. Suitable cards in French and Arabic are useful and can be obtained locally. The DAO Operations Coordinator needs no more than 200 cards. Diplomatically accredited ODC personnel and their spouses are required to have calling cards. Other personnel will probably use calling cards here as often as they would on other military assignments. Suitable invitations can be printed locally.

Money. Establish a U.S. checking account before leaving the U.S. and have at least $1,000 cash in the account, in cash, or in traveler’s checks, when you arrive. The direct deposit option is recommended for payroll, and also a bank with on-line internet banking/bill payment services.

Shipment. Depending on the origin of the shipment, household effects are normally routed via the New Orleans or Bayonne terminals. The transportation officer at your current post makes this decision. Privately owned vehicles are normally turned in to the Bayonne, New Jersey, Military Ocean Terminal for shipment to Tunis. Transit time may be as much as 90 days.

Personnel arriving from Europe may want to drive to Marseilles, France, or Genoa, Italy, and take the car ferry to Tunis.

Transient Personnel. The uniform is not routinely worn in Tunisia. Arrive in civilian clothing unless specifically authorized to wear the uniform. Military aircrews that remain at the airport in the aircraft stay in uniform. Aircrews entering the civilian airport terminal must be in civilian attire unless specifically authorized to wear the uniform. Navy personnel are authorized to wear the uniform while ashore during ship visits for official calls only. Navy personnel on shore leave must be in civilian clothing. U.S. military personnel on leave in Tunisia need to register with the DAO, American Embassy. U.S. military personnel on temporary duty in Tunisia will normally be met either by a member of the DAO or ODC.

No lending facilities exist here, nor does a military finance office. On a case-by-case basis, per diem advance of less than $200 may be paid. Visitors should have enough funds for all their expenses. A branch office of a local bank is located at the Embassy and will cash personal checks drawn on U.S. banks. Major credit cards (American Express, Visa) are generally honored in large hotels, restaurants, and many business establishments. Cash machines are available but not consistently reliable.

Hotels in Tunisia are often full, especially in the summer. Personnel coming to Tunisia on temporary duty should assure their lodging needs are stated in the country clearance request. Reservations should be canceled 48 hours in advance or you may be charged for the first day.

Post Orientation Program

The Embassy schedules orientation sessions dealing with the programs and activities of all agencies.
The Community Liaison Office serves as a focal point for community-related services and activities, and offers counseling and referral information in such areas as travel, education, and family member employment.

An active sponsor program and special newcomer activities have been developed to help meet the needs of all incoming personnel and their families. CLO services and activities include tours of Tunis and surrounding towns; markets and archeological sites; a “Put and Take” library; files on available domestic help; orientation sessions with various agencies; literature on cultural adaptation, etc. Prospective arrivals in Tunis are encouraged to visit the FLO Office in the State Department (Harry S. Truman Building) and the Overseas Briefing Center at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington or write to the CLO office in Tunis.

Related Internet Sites Last Updated: 1/6/2005 7:39 AM

The following internet sites are good sources of information and pictures about life in Tunisia:,,, and

The following Embassy internet and intranet sites can be visited for more information about the Embassy and current programs and activities:

Embassy Internet:

Background Notes (internet):

Embassy Intranet:

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/14/2005 6:44 AM

Sea travel via Marseilles, Genoa, or Naples is considered direct when traveling from the U.S. to Tunis. Direct air travel from Washington to Tunis is via Milan, Rome, Paris, London, or Frankfurt.

Shipment of Effects. Household effects (HHE) and airfreight (UAB) should be marked and consigned to:

American Ambassador

(Employee's Initials)

American Embassy

Tunis, Tunisia

Household effects (HHE) may be transshipped through ELSO in Antwerp. Only the employee's initials, not the employee's name, should appear on HHE and UAB containers. Privately owned vehicles (POVs) may be transshipped via ELSO Antwerp. POVs should be marked for:

American Embassy

Tunis, Tunisia

For: (Name)

For POV's, employees should ensure that the correct vehicle engine number and/or serial number appears on shipping documents and should hand-carry one set of POV keys and originals of the vehicle registration and title to post. Please note: motorized vehicles must be shipped as POV. Motorcycles, mopeds, etc., must be crated and shipped separately from HHE. Please mail copies of shipping documents (Airway bill, Government Bill of Lading, etc.) to post as soon as effects are shipped and bring additional copies of all shipping documents with you.

Unaccompanied air baggage may be cleared before an employee's arrival, usually within five to ten days after it arrives at Tunis-Carthage Airport. It will be stored at the warehouse of a contractor after clearance. You should include in your luggage any medicines, checks, clothing or other necessities for your immediate needs on arrival pending receipt of unaccompanied air baggage. You should also arrive with a minimum of four passport-sized pictures for each family member. These will be used for Tunisian visa and identity cards.

The above information on shipping is subject to change. Please contact post for the most current instructions. For people who would like to pick up their POVs in Antwerp and bring them in by ferry, notify Post early so that we can coordinate with Antwerp.

Arrival. You and your family members will be met on arrival and assisted through customs by someone from the Embassy. Usually, other officers are on hand to welcome and offer assistance. If plans change unexpectedly and you are not met, taxi service is available from the airport or seaport.

On the first workday after arrival, you will be picked up at your residence by an official car and driven to the office. You should report directly to the Human Resources Office for processing. The Embassy provides an information and orientation kit to all new employees.

Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 1/5/2005 2:57 AM

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/5/2005 2:57 AM

Officers and employees of all agencies are granted free entry of all unaccompanied baggage, including household and personal effects. Employees without diplomatic title at post are entitled to duty-free entry during the first year after arrival at post (see section on import restrictions). Items imported duty free must be for the personal use or consumption of the employee or Eligible Family Members and may only be sold to others with duty-free privileges. Commissary items cannot be resold or given away except to other commissary members. American personnel do not pay customs duties on automobiles at initial entry.

Clearance of HHE can be initiated prior to your arrival if shipment is correctly consigned. Clearance is normally obtained within 1 week after initiation. A privately owned vehicle can be cleared quickly after its arrival, provided it has valid license plates, and the owner is at post; has a valid driver's license; has Tunisian third-party insurance; and has the original vehicle title and registration.

Import Restrictions. Non-diplomatic staff is granted duty-free importation privileges during the first year after entry into Tunisia and are limited to duty-free importation or purchase of one POV, HHE shipment, one unaccompanied air baggage shipment, and one parcel post package. This must all be done within the first year of arrival at post.

The Government of Tunisia places no restrictions on the type of automobiles that may be imported into the country. Before being registered, however, vehicles must pass a routine inspection. All vehicles must be outfitted with front seatbelts.

Weapons. See Firearms and Ammunition.

Alcohol/tobacco/food. There is no consumables allowance for Tunisia. A wide selection of food, alcohol, and tobacco is available in the post commissary and at the local duty-free outlet.

Passage Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:58 AM

A valid passport is required for all Americans arriving in Tunisia. A Tunisian visa is not required for a stay of 4 months or less. A residence visa and a Tunisian identity card for all personnel assigned to Tunisia will be obtained through the Travel Office of the Embassy upon arrival.

If you plan to drive to Tunisia, you must have a valid drivers license and registration papers. Insurance valid in Tunisia may be purchased at the GSO Shipping Unit.

Pets Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:59 AM

There are no restrictions on importing pets. However, to avoid administrative delays, pets should accompany owners when possible. Owners should have documents indicating that the pet has been vaccinated against rabies and that the vaccination is at least 30 days but no more than one year old. A health certificate not more than 14 days old is also required. Adequate veterinary services are available in Tunis. Most veterinarians have studied or practiced abroad and offer full animal vaccinations and services for a relatively inexpensive price.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:54 AM

The Tunisian Government limits the importation of firearms to one hunting shotgun per employee. The importation of all other firearms or weapons is prohibited. Newly assigned employees are discouraged from bringing a hunting shotgun to post due to the difficulty in obtaining a permit for its use. If you wish to bring a hunting shotgun to post, write in advance to the regional security officer for specific, up-to-date instructions.

Prior approval of the Chief of Mission is required to bring a shotgun to post. Importation of any other weapon is prohibited. However, should you elect to ship a shotgun to post, it must be packed in a separate unmarked box with your airfreight to facilitate clearance. To facilitate registration, the type, make, gauge, and serial number of each firearm should be listed on the inventory of personal effects. Registration of the shotgun will generally take at least 6 months and can take up to a year. Firearms may be sent to post without an export license provided that they are consigned to American personnel for their personal use and are not for resale.

Tunisian and European cartridges for hunting shotguns are available locally. Do not send ammunition with your shotgun or pack it elsewhere in your airfreight or seafreight. After arrival, employees must obtain a firearms permit. This requires four passport-sized photos. Insurance and a hunting license are also required if you plan to hunt.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 12/30/2004 5:37 AM

Tunisia's money unit is the dinar. In 2004, the dinar and dollar exchange rate has fluctuated between 1.150 to 1.250 TD to US $1. A dinar coin, about the size of a Kennedy half-dollar, is Tunisia's largest denomination coin. It is subdivided into 1,000 millimes, with coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 100 and 500 millimes. Dinar notes are denominated in 5, 10, 20, and 30 dinars. The prefix symbol "TD" is used for Tunisian dinars, with one dinar 350 millimes written as TD 1.350 or 1,350. Tunisians most commonly use the latter form with a comma instead of a period.

The GOT exercises strict controls over import and export of dinars and foreign currencies. Generally, travelers with official or diplomatic passports are not requested to declare their currency upon entry or exit. Dollar transactions are permitted only at official banks, government stores, major hotel cashiers, and the American Embassy for authorized persons. Citibank Tunis provides a cashier at the Embassy and provides dinars in exchange for personal dollar checks from authorized Americans. Limited amounts of dollars, foreign currencies, and traveler's checks may also be purchased with a normal bank commission. Americans assigned to Embassy Tunis should maintain a checking account in the U.S., preferably with provision for automatic overdraft coverage. Citibank is the only U.S. bank operating in Tunis, but it still does not provide all banking services, such as ATM withdrawals and cash advances normally available at U.S. banks. ATM service from several other local banks is possible at very limited locations but has been found to be occasionally unreliable. Cash advances on credit cards generally are not available anywhere.

Tunisia uses the metric system of weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/4/2005 7:11 AM

All personnel pay transaction taxes and other indirect taxes on purchases. However, most taxes on gasoline may be avoided by purchasing tax-free coupons at the Commissary.

Local law and customs regulations drastically limit the sale of personal effects in Tunisia. All U.S. Government personnel on the diplomatic list may import goods duty-free throughout their tour of duty. Single officers may import only one privately owned vehicle, while married officers, accompanied by their spouse, may import two. Administrative and Technical staff may import goods duty-free only during their first year at post, and may import only one POV regardless of marital status. The post can arrange for an exemption of value added tax (VAT) for most major purchases of durable goods (e.g., television, furniture, etc.). Tax-free coupons are available at the USGERA Commissary for the purchase of gasoline.

Local law and customs regulations require that an employee export all goods that entered Tunisia duty free, unless the items can be sold to another person with duty-free privileges. As an exception to the preceding rule, automobiles may be sold to a person who does not have duty-free privileges, if that person first pays all customs duty that might be due. Depending on make and model, customs duty on automobiles can be very high, some cases as much as 150% or more of the original (new) retail cost of the vehicle. Complete details concerning the sale of personal property are on file at the post.


The Embassy branch of Citibank provides accommodation exchange and cashes personal and U.S. Government checks for all official Americans. With written documentation and approval from the Financial Management Officer (FMO), the Embassy will convert dinars into dollars for departing American employees. All Americans on official business should exchange money with Citibank or with the Embassy cashier. Citibank also sells U.S. dollar traveler's checks and can provide "hard currencies," such as Euro, UK pound sterling and Italian lira with advance request.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 3/18/2005 8:39 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004, Tunisia, North Africa. Available at:

El-Chebbi, Abul-Kacem. Songs of Life. Beit El Hikma, 1987.

Abun-Nasr, Jamil M. A History of the Maghreb. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Lisa Anderson. The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U.P., 1986.

Atkinson, Rick. An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943. Henry Holt and Co., 1st Edition (October 2, 2002).

Ben Abdallah, Chedly. Fetes Religieuses et Rythmes de Tunisie. JPS Editions, 1988.

Boulares, Habib. Nous Partons Pour la Tunisie. Presses Universitaires de France, 1978.

CERES. Antique Cities in Tunisia. Tunis: Ceres Productions, 1971.

Charles-Picard, Colette and Gilbert. Life and Death of Carthage: A Survey of Punic History and Culture From Its Birth to the Final Tragedy. New York: Taplinger, 1969.

Charles-Picard, Colette and Gilbert. Daily Life in Carthage at the Time of Hannibal. New York: Macmillan, 1961.

Duvignaud, Jean. Change At Chebika. Gallimard, 1988.

Flaubert, Gustave. Salammbo. A.J. Krailsheimer, trans. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.

Geyer, Georgie Anne. Tunisia: The Story of a Country That Works. Stacey International Publisher, 2003.

Hejaiej, Monia (ed.). Behind Closed Doors: Tales of Tunisian Women. Quartet Books Ltd, 1996.

Hamdi, Mohamed Elhachmi. Politicization of Islam. Westview Press, 1998.

Hopkins, Michael. Tunisia to 1993: Steering for Stability. London; New York: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1989.

Holmes-Eber, Paula. Daughters of Tunis. Boulder, Co; Westview, 2003.

Kaplan, Robert D. Mediterranean Winter: The Pleasures of History and Landscape in Tunisia, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece. Random House, 2004.

Khader, Aïcha Ben Abed and David Soren, eds. Carthage: A Mosaic of Ancient Tunisia. Photographs by Martha Cooper. [1st American ed.] New York: American Museum of Natural History in association with W.W.Norton, 1987.

Lancel, Serge. and Antonia Nevill (translator). Carthage: A History. Antonia Nevill, transBlackwell Publishers, 1995.

Moore, Clement Henry. Tunisia Since Independence: The Dynamics of One-Party Government. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, [1982], 1965.

Parker, Richard B. Tunisia: Crossroads of the Islamic and European Worlds. Westview Press, 1984.

Perkins, Kenneth. A History of Modern Tunisia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Perkins, Kenneth. Tunisia: Crossroads of the Islamic and European Worlds. Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, 1986.

Revault, Jacques. Designs and Patterns From North African Carpets and Textiles. New York: Dover Publications, 1973.

St. George's Anglican Church of Tunis. Living in Tunis for Expatriates, 1st Edition. Tunis: l'Imprimerie Finzi, 2000.

Tunisia, A Country Study. Area Handbook Series, 1988.

World Bank. Tunisia’s Global Integration and Sustainable Development: Strategic Choices for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1996.

Williams, Christopher. Craftsmen of Necessity. Random House, 1974.

Yetiv, Isaac. 1001 Proverbs From Tunisia. Three Continents Press, 1987.

Zartman, I. William, ed. Tunisia: The Political Economy of Reform. Boulder, Co: L. Rienner, © 1991.

Travel Guides

Insight Guide to Tunisia. APA Publicatons, 2002.

McGuinness, Justin. Footprint Tunisia Handbook. Footprint Handbooks, 2002.

Morris, Peter and Jacobs, Daniel. The Rough Guide to Tunisia. Rough Guides, 2005.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 2/8/2005 1:53 PM

Tunisia celebrates the following secular holidays:

New Year’s Day January 1
Independence Day March 20
Youth Day March 21
Veteran’s Day April 9
Labor Day May 1
Republic Day July 25
Women’s Day August 13
Commemoration Day November 7

Religious Holidays. Four Islamic religious holidays are observed throughout the country but their dates are variable as they are based on the lunar calendar. These holidays are: Aid El Kebir, Aid Seghir, Mouled, and Ras El Am El Hejri.
Most Tunisians observe the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, when Moslems abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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