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Tunisia


Tunisia

Tunisia

The climate in Tunisia varies a fair amount depending on the region. It is Mediterranean in the north and along the coastline, semi-arid in the interior, and arid in the south. Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons to travel across the country: it is cool in the north, the eastern coast is quite pleasant, and the desert regions are not as stifling as in the summer. During the summer, sea breezes in the northern and coastal regions attract visitors, but the interior lands and more particularly the desert areas are subjected to intense heat as masses of subtropical air travel to the north. The Kroumirie mountain range, south of Tabarka, provides a cool stopping place where, approximately 800m (2,624 ft.) in altitude, travellers can enjoy a lovely walk in cork oak forests.

Winter is the perfect season to tour the south of the country, especially the desert regions, where the days are relatively warm and the nights rather cold. The Jerba Island, next to Libya, offers a very mild climate at this time of the year, as do certain seaside resorts along the eastern coast. The northern coast, however, is more exposed to the cold climate that prevails in Europe and descends into the Mediterranean. Every year, snowfalls in the Kroumirie mountains continue to surprise the population whose daily routine is temporarily disrupted by these masses of frozen water crystals.

Because of its geography, Tunisia is also affected by winds blowing from the sea or the Sahara. For instance, the northern coast is the most exposed to maritime winds descending along the Mediterranean, which cause a significant drop in temperature and an increase in precipitation, especially during the winter months. In southern Tunisia, dry hot winds blow across the wide desert stretches and plains. In spring and summer, the sirocco (called chehili in Tunisia) is a warm wind originating in the Sahara that can easily make the temperature climb above 40 ºC (104 ºF).

Although Tunisia is a small country, barely 750km (466 mi.) long from north to south, the amount of precipitation vacillates enormously from one region to the next. The area around Aïn Draham in the Kroumirie mountains receives over 1,500mm (59 in.) of water annually, making it by far the most humid region in the country. Yet, in the region of Kebili, 350km (217 mi.) south of Aïn Draham, less than 100mm (4 in.) of rain fall per year.

Furthermore, the principal mountain range in the country, the Dorsal, splits the country into two distinct zones: the northern regions receive between 400 and 1,500mm (16 and 59 in.) of rain per year whereas the south receives well below 400mm (16 in.) of precipitation, rendering approximately two thirds of the country unfavourable to the culture and spreading of natural vegetation. The dry season lasts three to five months in the north of the country, exceeds six months in the centre and lasts all year in the south.

Temperatures fluctuate based on latitude, altitude and especially the distance of the Mediterranean. Accordingly, average temperatures for the entire country are 12 ºC (54 ºF) in December and 30 ºC (86 ºF) in July. If temperatures can fall a few degrees below zero (32 ºF) in the Kroumirie mountains in the winter, summer temperatures sometimes can skyrocket in desert regions to about 50 ºC (122 ºF) in the shade!

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