Tunis, Tunisia’s capital city, is located on an isthmus (a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas) between two salt lakes, the marshy Sebkha-el Sejumi to the south-west, and the shallow el-Bahira (little sea), or Lake of Tunis, to the north-east. The importance of Tunis dates from the Arab conquest when, as Carthage sank, Tunis took its place commercially and politically. It became Tunisia’s capital under the powerful Hafsid dynasty (13th–16th cent.), but the original town is much older. The city is built in the shape of an amphitheatre, with the kasbah, or citadel, at its highest point. The old town (Medina), built during the 7th century AD, lies between two suburbs, the Ribat-elSowika on the north and the Ribat Bab-el-Jezira on the south. Beyond the Bab-el-Bahar (sea-gate), now called Porte de France, on the level ground by the Bahira, is the marine town, or Quartier Franc, built during the French occupation in 1881. Since the old times and among the centuries, the city has been a leading centre of trade between Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Today, Tunis is a wonderful place where old and new cohabit in perfect harmony: domes and minarets, broad boulevards lined with cafes and flower stalls and modern shops mix together in this unique, cosmopolitan city.