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About Tunisia
Tunisia Imports 
History, Culture, Environment
 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. The earliest humans to set foot here were probably a group of Homo erectus who stumbled onto the place a few hundred thousand years ago as they joined north-west across the Sahara from East Africa. It's believed that in those days what is now arid desert was covered in forest, scrub and savanna grasses, much like the plains of Kenya and Tanzania today. The earliest hard evidence of human inhabitation was unearthed near the southern oasis town of Kebili and dates back about 200,000 years.
 The Phoenicians first set up shop in Tunisia at Utica in 1100 BC, using it as a staging post along the route from their home port of Tyre (in modern-day Lebanon) to Spain. They went on to establish a chain of ports along the North African coast, the most important of which included Hadrumètum (Sousse) and Hippo Diarrhytus (Bizerte). But the port that looms largest in history books is Carthage, arch enemy of Rome. It became the leader of the western Phoenician world in the 7th century and the main power in the Western Mediterranean in the early 5th century. The city's regional dominance lasted until the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, which began in 263 BC and ended in 146 BC with Carthage utterly razed and its people sold into slavery.
 The Tunisian territory became Roman property after the war. The emperor Augustus refounded Carthage as a Roman city in 44 BC, naming it the capital of Africa Proconsularis, Rome's African holdings. Agriculture became all-important, and by the 1st century AD, the wheat-growing plains of Tunisia were supplying over 60% of the empire's requirements. The Romans went on to found cities and colonies across Tunisia's plains and coastline; today, they're Tunisia's principal tourist attractions.
 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'd taken Carthage as their capital and began to, well, vandalize. Their exploitative policies alienated them from the native Berber population, who in turn formed small kingdoms and began raiding the Vandal settlements. The Byzantines of Constantinople, who pulled the territory from the Vandals in 533 and kept it for the next 150 years, fared no better.
 Islam burst onto the scene in the 7th century, when the Arab armies swept out of Arabia, quickly conquering Egypt. The Arabs had taken all of North Africa by the start of the 8th century, and, with Kairouan as its capital, the region became a province of the fast-expanding Islamic empire controlled by the caliphs of Damascus.
The Berbers adopted Islamic religious teachings readily enough, but they riled under their harsh treatment by the Arabs. Their uprisings continued until 909, when a group of Berber Shiites, the Fatimids, glommed together disaffected Berber tribes and took North Africa back from the Arabs.
 Their capital was raised on the coast at Mahdia, but the unity was to be short-lived. When some of the tribes returned to the Sunni mainstream, the tribes began to fight one another and North Africa was slowly reduced to ruins.
 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 in 1574 and it became an Ottoman territory. Ottoman power lasted through to the 19th century, when France became the new power in the Western Mediterranean and Tunis came under increasing pressure to conform to their European ways.
 In 1881, the French sent 30,000 troops into Tunisia under the pretext of countering border raids into French-occupied Algeria. They quickly occupied Tunis and forced the ruling Bey to sign over his power to the French. Soon after, they had discretely nabbed the best of Tunisian land. The fall of France in WWII opened the door for Tunisian nationalists to step up their independence campaign, and one man in particular, Habib Bourguiba, set about bringing Tunisia's position into the international spotlight.
 By the early 1950s, the French were ready to make concessions.
Tunisia was formally granted independence on 20 March 1956, with Bourguiba as prime minister. The following year, the country was declared a republic and Bourguiba became its first president, instituting sweeping political and social changes. Regarding Islam as a force that was holding the country back, Bourguiba set about reducing its role in society by removing religious leaders from their traditional areas of influence, such as education and the law. The shari'a (Qur'anic law) courts were also abolished, and lands that had financed mosques and religious institutions were confiscated.
 Bourguiba's presidency lasted through 1987, when after years of working to squelch the Islamic party pretenders to his throne, his own minister for the interior, Zine el-Abidine ben Ali, took advantage of the Islamic citizenry's unrest to have Bourguiba declared mentally unfit to rule and 'retired' to a palace outside Monastir.
 Ben Ali quickly moved to appease the Islamic opposition, making a pilgrimage to Mecca and ordering that the Ramadan fast be observed. Since taking power his party's stranglehold on the government has held fast. Today the main opposition parties remain disenfranchised and media censorship is commonplace. In elections held in October 1999, Ben Ali won by a whopping 99.44%! Bourguiba's death in April 2000 inspired widespread and open dissent against Ben Ali's regime, and signs of unrest are becoming more and more prominent.
Bird Species
Bird Species
Bird Cages for Love Birds, Finches, Cockatiels, Quakers, Starts Canaries, Frill Canaries, Parisian Frills, Society Crest ... Tell me More
About the Artist
Bird Cage Artist
Massoudi, at 28, has already 15 years of experience in manufacturing bird cages. Already since elementary school, he helped his father at the « bottega » ... Tell me More
About Raf-Raf
A small farming village, mainly fishermen established at the base of a mountain which advances in the Mediterranean in a very exotic cape, RafRaf ... Tell me More
About Tunisia
Tunisia's feathered population is impressive, with more than 200 bird species on record. Sightings include migrating storks, hawks and eagles in spring and autumn ... Tell me More
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