The city is located on the Lake of Tunis, and is connected to the Gulf of Tunis, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, by a canal terminating at the port of Halq al Wadi.
Tunis became the capital of Tunisia under the Hafsid dynasty, and was a leading center of trade with Europe. The Turks took the city in 1534. After 1591, the Turkish governors (Beys) were virtually independent, and the city prospered as a center of piracy and trade.
In April 1655 English Admiral Robert Blake was sent to the Mediterranean to extract compensation from states that had been attacking English shipping. Only the Bey of Tunis refused to comply, with the result that Blake's 15 ships attacked the Bey's arsenal at Porto Farina (Ghar el Melh), destroying 9 Algerian ships and 2 shore batteries, the first time in naval warfare that shore batteries had been taken out without landing men ashore.
The French occupied the city from 1881 to 1956. During World War II, Tunis was held by Axis forces from November, 1942, to May, 1943, and was their last base in Africa. The Arab League was headquartered in Tunis from 1979 to 1990.
Tunis is the site of the University of Tunis.
The ruins of Carthage are nearby, to the northeast.
Tunis is served by the Tunis-Carthage Airport.
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