Tunisia has been used as a baby name for decades now. Long before it started appearing on the SSA’s baby name list regularly in the mid-1960s, though, it popped up for the first time in 1943:
- 1945: unlisted
- 1944: unlisted
- 1943: 8 baby girls named Tunisia [debut]
- 1942: unlisted
- 1941: unlisted
Because Tunisia was in the news quite a bit that year, thanks to the Tunisia Campaign of World War II.
The Axis had seized control of capital city Tunis in November of 1942. After a series of battles, the Allies freed the city in May of 1943 and drove the Axis out of Africa.
No one knows exactly how Tunis was named, but theories abound. One theory connects it to the Phoenician goddess Tanith. Another suggests it comes from a Berber verb meaning “to camp” or “to lie down.”
(Dizzy Gillespie also penned the jazz standard “A Night in Tunisia” in the early ’40s.)