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:: TUNISIA GEOGRAPHY ::

Southern Tunisia map.

Total area: +/- 163600 km2.
Saharan area: +/- 120000 km2 (73%).
Lowest point: -25 meters (Chott el Djerid).
Highest point: 1544 meters (Jebel ech Chambi, near Kasserine).

Tunisia is a country of the Maghreb.

Tunisia northern area is occupied by the eastern end of the Atlas mountains. These mountains possess a Mediterranean climate and dense forests are present in them. Moving towards the south, terrain altitude lowers and climate gets increasingly arid, turning into steppes and finally merging with the great Sahara desert and the dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental (Great Eastern Sand Sea). The south of Tunisia shows a landscape of scorched mountains from where the ancient fortresses called ksour watch upon, and the gorfhas and some dwellings live in symbiosis with the rocks.

Left image: satellite detail view of the southernmost dense forest in Tunisia, isolated within the desert steppes, some kilometers south-south-east from Kasserine. No more compact forests can be found south from this location.

Right image: satellite view of Gafsa, large town of the steppes with a large history. Most of the houses are still traditional and the oasis greenery is so large as the town itself.

Satellite view of a forest in the desert boundaries. Satellite view of Gafsa.

Satellite view of Gabes, whose traditional districts and large green areas are surrounded by the desert but also by the priceless richness of the sea. The ancient Gabes, a coastal oasis town which belonged to ancient Carthage, is today an industrial town with a population of around 130000 inhabitants. The industry in Gabes is mainly chemical and petrochemical and has caused a serious contamination in the area, a place which is appreciated for its beaches and wide palm gardens. Gabes has a special feature; in this town the traveler will find the mountain, the sea, the oasis and the desert reunited. An international airport is located about 22 kilometers to the south-west.

Satellite view of Gabes.

Chott el Djerid is a large salt lake located in central Tunisia. With an area of around 6000 square kilometers, this basin is the largest saline accumulation in the Sahara desert. In summer time the lake remains dried, but during winter it gets some water level and can be crossed by boats. Chott el Djerid was some thousand years ago part of the Mediterranean Sea; nowadays, piles of salt accumulated at its edges are collected for salt production. The gathering of salt in the desert is a hard work; the sun reflects on the salt surface and the workers have to protect their eyes and endure high temperatures.

Some small oasis villages exist around the lake; in the satellite view, the oases of Nafta and Tozeur can be seen in the form of green spots on the northern edge of the basin. Nowadays a causeway crosses through the lake to connect these towns with the southern ones. Driving a vehicle outside the road is very dangerous, since the salt surface can be broken as in a frozen lake.

Satellite view of Chott el Djerid. A view of Chott el Djerid salt surface.

In the images below, two aspects of the Tunisian desert, characterized by numerous plateau formations.

Satellite view of the Tunisian desert. Satellite view of the Tunisian desert.

Left image: a road crossing the emptiness of the southern desert. In the Sahara only the most important roads are paved, being the rest of them mere tracks.

Right image: the first dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental emerge upon the flat steppe near the south-western border of Tunisia.

A road crossing the Tunisian desert. The first sand dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental.

Tunisia Ethnography



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