By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We were hoping to travel to the Mediteranean but I'm worried about political unrest. Do you know what kind of conditions are in Tunisia?

A: For Tunisia, Consular Affairs reports this North African country is generally a peaceful and safe country. Since Tunisia's independence from France in 1956, the country has evolved into a strict one-party state under then president Habib Bourguiba who was in office for 31 years.

The World Factbook states that during his leadership, besides repressing Islamic fundamentalism, Bourguiba "established women's rights unmatched by any other Arab nation." "In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations.

Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society," reports the World Factbook. Once there, you'll quickly discover how this ancient culture diffused with the love of bureaucracy most likely inherited from the French with its joie de vivre, emits a warm friendliness that is easily spotted when venturing through the souks and medinas.

Quick smiles, gentle pats on the back and an invitation for mint tea or dinner after your purchases are not out of the norm. Tunisia has long been a popular tourist destination among the Germans, French and Spanish.


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All text & photos 2004.