Sousse or Soussa (Arabic: سوسة, Sūsa; Berber: Susa) is a city in Tunisia, capital of the Sousse Governorate. Located 140 km (87 mi) south of the capital Tunis, the city has 271,428 inhabitants (2014). Sousse is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. Its economy is based on transport equipment, processed food, olive oil, textiles, and tourism. It is home to the Université de Sousse.


Clockwise from top:
Skyline of Sousse, Bou Ftetah Mosque, Ribat of Sousse, Kasba, Great Mosque of Sousse
"The pearl of the Sahel"
Location in Tunisia
Coordinates: 35°50′N 10°38′E
Country Tunisia
GovernorateSousse Governorate
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (CET)
Official nameMedina of Sousse
CriteriaCultural: (iii)(iv)(v)
Inscription1988 (12th session)
Area31.68 ha (0.1223 sq mi)
Buffer zone60.99 ha (0.2355 sq mi)


Sousse and Soussa are both French spellings of the Arabic name Sūsa, which may derive from Berber (cf., e.g., Morocco's Sous River and Region). The present city has also grown to include the ruins of Hadrumetum, which had many names in several languages during antiquity.[1][2][3]


A mosaic depicting Medusa in the Museum of Sousse.


In the 11th century BC,[4] Tyrians established Hadrumetum[5] as a trading post and waypoint along their trade routes to Italy and the Strait of Gibraltar. Its establishment (at a river mouth about 9.7 km or 6 mi north of old Sousse)[6][7] preceded Carthage's[8] but, like other western Phoenician colonies, it became part of the Carthaginian Empire[5] following Nebuchadnezzar II's long siege of Tyre in the 580s and 570s BC.

The city featured in the Third Sicilian War, the Second and Third Punic Wars (in the latter of which it secured additional territory and special privileges by aiding Rome against what was left of the Carthaginians), and Caesar's Civil War, when it was the scene of Caesar's famously deft recovery: upon tripping while coming ashore, he dealt with the poor omen this threatened to become by grabbing handfuls of dirt and proclaiming "I have you now, Africa!" (Latin: Teneo te Africa!)[9] The second city in Roman Africa after Carthage, it became the capital of the province of Byzacena during the Diocletianic Reforms. Its native sons included the jurist Salvius Julianus, the emperor Clodius Albinus, and numerous Christian saints. The Roman and Byzantine catacombs beneath the city are extensive.

The Vandals sacked Hadrumetum in 434 but it remained a place of importance within their kingdom; a bishop and proconsul were martyred there during the Vandals' periodic forced conversions of their subjects to Arianism. The Byzantine Empire reconquered the town in 534 during the Vandal War and engaged in a public works program that included new fortifications and churches. The town was sacked during the Umayyad Caliphate's 7th-century conquest of North Africa. According to a 1987 ICOMOS report, Uqba ibn Nafi's siege and capture of the city resulted in its almost complete destruction, such that no monument of Hadrumetum "subsists in situ".[2]

Medieval Susa

Muslim Arab armies rapidly spread Arab culture across what had been a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized landscape. Under the Aghlabids, Susa was established near the ruins of Hadrumetum and served as their main port. Their 827 invasion of Sicily was mainly launched from the town's harbor. After the Byzantine city of Melite (modern Mdina on Malta) was captured by the Aghlabids in 870, marble from its churches was used to build the Ribat.[10] A soaring structure that combined the purposes of a minaret and a watch tower, it remains in outstanding condition and draws visitors from around the world. Its mosque is sometimes accounted the oldest surviving in the region and the town's main mosque, also built during the 9th century, has a similarly fortress-like appearance.

Susa was briefly occupied by Norman Sicily in the 12th century; it fell to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th; and it was bombarded by a French and Venetian fleet in the 18th.

Medieval Susa was known for its textile industries, producing silk and flax fabrics called Sūsī. Especially renowned were its robes called shuqqas, some of which were mass-produced and sold ready-to-wear throughout the Mediterranean.[11]

Colonial Sousse

Tunisia became a French protectorate in 1881. The French improved the town's harbor during the next two decades. Prior to the First World War, Sousse had about 25,000 inhabitants, including around 10,000 French and roughly 5,000 other Europeans, mostly Italians and Maltese.

Modern Sousse

Sousse has retained the solidly Arabian look and feel it had assumed in the centuries after its initial conquest. Today it is considered one of the best examples of seaward-facing fortifications built by the Arabs. These days, Sousse, with a population of about 200,000, retains a medieval heart of narrow, twisted streets, a kasbah and medina, its ribat fortress and long wall on the Mediterranean. Surrounding it is a modern city of long, straight roads and more widely spaced buildings.

Sousse was the site of the chess interzonal in 1967, made famous when American Grandmaster Bobby Fischer withdrew from the tournament even though he was in first place at the time.[12]

On 26 June 2015, a lone gunman later identified as Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi opened fire on tourists sunbathing on a beach near the Riu Imperial Marhaba and Soviva hotels, killing 38 and wounding 39, before being shot dead by the police.


Sousse beachfront
Golf course Port El-Kantaoui

Sousse is the third largest city in Tunisia after Tunis and Sfax. Although Sousse is associated with olive oil manufacture and has other industries, tourism predominates today. An olive grove covering more than 2,500 km2 (965 sq mi) constitutes one of its main riches since antiquity. The busy port near downtown adds a touch of liveliness to its activity. Sousse also had many oil wells in the area during its colonial period.


Sousse is an important tourist resort. It has a hot semi-arid climate, with the seaside location moderating the climate, making it an all-season resort with hot, dry summers and warm, mild, wet winters. The fine sandy beaches are backed by orchards and olive groves.

Only 20 km (12 mi) from Monastir and Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport, hotel complexes with a capacity of 40,000 beds extend 20 km (12 mi) from the old city (medina) north along the seafront to Port El Kantaoui. Some 1,200,000 visitors come every year to enjoy its hotels and restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, beaches, and sports facilities.

Sousse is considered to be a popular tourist destination, especially due to its nightlife. Well-known nightclubs include Bora Bora, Living, Rediguana, Platinum, and The Saloon. The top producers and DJs in dance come to play at the various clubs. The season traditionally begins at the start of June and finishes on the first weekend of October with the closing parties.


Sahel Metro train in Sousse

Sousse is well-connected with the main Tunisian Railways network, having non-electrified lines to Tunis (since 1899), Sfax (since 1911), and Kasserine (since 2004) with diesel multiple unit and locomotive-driven trains. The main Gare Sousse terminus is in the city center, while Gare Kalaa Seghira serves a bypass route.

Since 2010 the electrified Sahel Metro line goes south to Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport, Monastir, and Mahdia. This line has the Sousse - Bab Jadid station as its northern terminus in Sousse's city center, and 4 additional stations in the city.

Intercity buses and red-strip microbuses (so-called louages) connect Sousse with many cities in Tunisia. Urban transit in Sousse is served by routes of articulated and conventional buses, blue-strip louages, and cheap taxis.

The 600 mm (1 ft 11 58 in) Sousse–Kairouan Decauville railway operated from 1882 to 1996, before it was regauged to 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge.


Medina of Sousse

A medina, surrounded by its city walls and fortifications, is of historical interest. The medina includes open and covered bazaars (souks). Buildings of historical interest include the ribat castle, the central mosque, and a historical museum in the Casbah with mosaics from the area's many Roman villas. The Carthaginian catacombs can be visited.

UNESCO declared the medina of Sousse a World Heritage Site in 1988, citing among various things its preservation from modern development.


  • Population: 220,000 inhabitants (2003 estimate)
  • Altitude: 2 m
  • Humidity: 69%
  • Number of hospitals: (private and public) 15
  • Average Temperatures: (mean temperatures from May to August for the last 30 years)
    • Min: 19.7 °C
    • Max: 29.1 °C
    • Average: 24.4 °C
  • Rainfall average: May: 19.3 mm
    • June: 4 mm
    • July: 1.7 mm
    • August: 10.3 mm


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot semi-arid (BSh)[13] bordering with hot-summer Mediterranean (Csa).

The highest recorded temperature was 48 °C (118 °F) on August 28, 2007, while the lowest recorded temperature was 4.5 °C (40.1 °F) on December 27, 1993.[14]

Climate data for Sousse
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27
Average high °C (°F) 15.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.4
Average low °C (°F) 7.2
Record low °C (°F) 4.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43
Average rainy days 7 6 7 6 5 2 1 2 4 6 6 7 59
Mean daily sunshine hours 6 7 7 8 10 11 12 11 9 7 7 6 8
Source 1:,[13] Weather2Travel for rainy days and sunshine[15]
Source 2: Voodoo Skies for record temperatures[14]
Sousse mean sea temperature[15]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
16 °C (61 °F) 16 °C (61 °F) 16 °C (61 °F) 16 °C (61 °F) 18 °C (64 °F) 21 °C (70 °F) 24 °C (75 °F) 26 °C (79 °F) 25 °C (77 °F) 23 °C (73 °F) 21 °C (70 °F) 18 °C (64 °F)

Notable people

In films

Sousse's old city has aspects that made it ideal as a film location. Most famous is Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), where Sousse represents Cairo, however the architectural style of Sousse, white-washed houses with blue details, bear no resemblance to the actual architecture of Cairo.

Twin towns – sister cities

Sousse is twinned with:


  1. Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, Gazeteer, page 511, Map 33 Theveste-Hadrumetum, Compiled by R.B. Hitchner, 1997, in file BATL033_.PDF in B_ATLAS.ZIP Archived 2013-05-07 at the Wayback Machine from Princeton University Press | Subjects | Browse Princeton Catalog by Subject | Archaeology and Ancient History | Archaeology and Ancient History | Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. R.J.A. Talbert, ed. Archived 2012-03-26 at the Wayback Machine | Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, Edited by Richard J. A. Talbert | Map-by-Map Directory.
  2. ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Report - The Medina of Sousse Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine from Site Officiel de la Ville de Sousse | Découvrir Sousse Archived 2012-01-10 at the Wayback Machine | Histoire et Patrimoine | Sousse Patrimoine Mondial de l'humanité Archived 2011-08-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Sousse Archaeological Bulletin "SOCIÉTÉ ARCHÉOLOGIQUE DE SOUSSE, Assemblée générale du 29 Février 1903, Extraits des procès-verbaux des réunions." etc., from Institut National du Patrimoine Tunisie / National Heritage Institute (INP) | Digital Library | Sousse Archaeological Bulletin (near bottom of page).
  4. Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Medina of Sousse". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  5. Enc. Brit. (1911), p. 802.
  6. New Class. Dict. (1860), s.v. "Hadrūmētum".
  7. Norie (1831), p. 348.
  8. Sallust, Jug., 19.
  9. Suetonius, Div. Jul., §59. (in Latin) & (in English)
  10. Brincat, Joseph M. "New Light on the Darkest Age in Malta's History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  11. Goitein, Shelomo Dov; Sanders, Paula (1967). A Mediterranean Society: Daily life. University of California Press. pp. 180, 402. ISBN 0520048695. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  12. The Further Adventures Of Terrible-tempered Bobby
  13. "Climate: Sousse - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  14. "Sousse, Tuisia". Voodoo Skies. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  15. "Sousse Climate and Weather Averages, Tunisia". Weather2Travel. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  16. "Jumelages". (in French). Boulogne-Billancourt. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  17. "Braunschweigs Partner- und Freundschaftsstädte". (in German). Braunschweig. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  18. "Le printemps de Sousse est de retour". (in French). Le Temps. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  19. "Kardeş Kentler". (in Turkish). İzmir. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  20. "Intercity cooperation". Mestna občina Ljubljana. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  21. "Investissement à Marrakech". (in French). Agence Marocaine pour le Développement de l'Entreprise. 2016-09-05. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  22. "Tunisie: Jumelage entre les villes de Sousse et Nice". (in French). Tunisie Numerique. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  23. "Hommage à Sembene Ousmane". (in French). Seneplus. 2019-06-16. Retrieved 2020-11-03.
  24. "友好城市". (in Chinese). Weihai. Retrieved 2020-11-03.

Further reading


General references and travel guides:


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