|Republic of Tunisia|
Motto : حرية ، كرامة ، عدالة ، نظام
Freedom, dignity, justice, order
|State and form of government||semi-presidential republic|
|Head of state||President Kais Saied|
|Head of government||
|population||11.951 million (July 2021 estimate)|
|Population density||71 inhabitants per km²|
|Population development||+1.15% (2020)|
gross domestic product
|Human Development Index||0.74 ( 95th ) (2019)|
|currency||Tunisian Dinar (TND)|
|independence||March 20, 1956 (from France )|
|National holiday||March, 20th|
|Time zone||UTC +1 CET|
|ISO 3166||TN , TUN, 788|
Tunisia ( Arabic تونس, DMG Tūnis ; officially Tunisian Republic , Arabic الجمهورية التونسية, DMG al-ǧumhūriyya at-tūnisiyya ) is a state in North Africa . It consists of 24 governorates . Tunisia has almost 12 million inhabitants and, with 71 inhabitants per km², is one of the less densely populated states.
Tunisia borders the Mediterranean Sea (1,146 km of coastline) to the north and east , Algeria to the west and Libya to the south-east . His name is derived from the name of his capital Tunis . Tunisia is one of the Maghreb countries. The largest offshore island is Djerba (514 km²). With an area of 163,610 km², the country is roughly twice the size of Austria .
The country has been influenced by several peoples in the course of its history. Originally it was settled by the Berbers . Around 800 BC The Phoenicians founded the first settlements in the Tunisian coastal strip. The Romans incorporated it into their province of Africa . The Christianity prevailed in the process until the Arabization before the 7th century. The region experienced a cultural heyday in the 12th century. The rule of the Ottoman Empire began in the 16th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century when the country became a French protectorate . Tunisia gained its independence in 1956. From 1956 to 2011 it was ruled in an authoritarian manner by the unity party Neo Destour / RCD . In the course of the revolution , a constituent assembly was elected, which passed a new constitution in 2014 . Tunisia is considered the only democratic country in the Arab world , according to the Democracy Index published by The Economist magazine .
Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa and only 140 kilometers from Sicily . It stretches between the Mediterranean and the Sahara , between 37 ° 20 'and 30 ° 10' north latitude and between 7 ° 30 'and 11 ° 30' east longitude. The largest north-south extension between Ra's al-Abyad (Cap Blanc) and the border station Bordj el Khadra is around 780 km, the largest east-west extension between the island of Djerba and Nefta is around 380 km. The Mediterranean coast has an approximate length of 1,300 kilometers.
The north-west of Tunisia is determined by the Tell Atlas . The mountain ranges of the Kroumirie (700–800 m altitude) run parallel to the north coast from the Algerian border to the Bay of Bizerte . This is followed in the northeast by the Mogod Mountains (300–400 m altitude), which, for example, slopes down into the Mediterranean Sea at Ra's al-Abyad in a mostly steep rocky coast. On the side of the mountains facing away from the wind, the valley basin of the year-round water-bearing Medjerda joins, the lower reaches of which belong to the most important agricultural zone in the country.
The ridges of the Dorsal run from the northeast ( beginning on the western edge of Cape Bon ) to the southwest with the highest mountain in Tunisia ( Djebel Chambi , 1544 m) with a length of 220 kilometers. The north-eastern extension of these mountain ranges is the Cap Bon peninsula with fertile plains and some elevations (Djebel Beno Oulid, 637 m and Djebel Korbous , 419 m), which, however, is viewed as an independent landscape region.
To the east of the Dorsal, along the Mediterranean coast between Hammamet and Skhira , Sousse and Sfax , lies the coastal strip known as the Sahel ( Arabic for coast), which is very fertile due to the rain-bringing easterly winds and enables, among other things, large olive tree crops.
South of the dorsal is the region of the Central Tunisian steppe country , which forms a transition to the Schottsenke ( Chott el Djerid and Chott el Gharsa ) on its southern edge with the northern mountain range . The landscape, characterized by salt lakes and oases, continues south on the eastern Great Erg into the desert landscape of the Sahara with the Jebil National Park . In a south-easterly direction follows the up to 600 m high limestone plateau Dahar , which adjoins the desert steppe of the Djeffara plain with a layered stepland . This landscape extends further over the border to Libya .
Along the Mediterranean Sea, around the Gulf of Gabès, lies the littoral zone , which is characterized by sandy flat coasts, lagoons and offshore islands (e.g. Djerba).
The waters of Tunisia are almost all in the north of the country. The most important river is the Medjerda , it receives the most rainfall (400 mm per year) and carries 82% of the water resources. There are also some smaller wadis , i.e. rivers that do not carry water all year round. The main lakes, lagoons and sabcha are Lake Bizerte , Lake Ichkeul , Lake Tunis , Lagoon of Ghar El Melh , Sabcha Ariana and Sabcha Sijoumi .
The center of the country and the south of Tunisia are characterized by aridity and lack of drainage. The waters like the Sabcha Sidi El Héni only carry twelve percent or six percent of Tunisia's water resources, depending on the season. However, there are large reserves of groundwater there , which has allowed the oasis area to increase from 15,000 to 30,000 hectares in the last thirty years.
The construction of reservoirs began as early as the colonial era, at that time mainly to supply Tunis with drinking water. After independence, the projects continued, at that time with the aim of irrigation in agriculture . Urbanization has been responsible for the sharp increase in water demand since the 1980s. There are now 21 large dams, numerous smaller dams and 98 sewage treatment plants in Tunisia. Agriculture accounted for 80% of water consumption in 2000. A serious resource deficit in freshwater is expected from the year 2030.
In Tunisia, Mediterranean and arid climates collide. Precipitation decreases from north to south and increases slightly from east to west. A distinction can be made between the wet and summer-dry north, the central Tunisian steppe region with its changeable climate with hot summers, cold winters and decreasing rainfall, the Mediterranean coast influenced by the sea with a more balanced climate and the desert climate south of the Schotts.
With increasing distance from the Mediterranean, its balancing influence gives way to a continental climate. The mean temperatures are 10 ° C in January and 26 ° C in August (Tunis). South of the Atlas there is a dry, hot desert edge climate with very irregular rainfall all year round. The temperatures here reach maximum values of up to 45 ° C, whereby there can be a temperature difference of 10 ° C in the shade (usually only 5 ° C). The most extreme differences are reached in the Sahara with summer temperatures of 50 ° C and ground frost in winter. Unbearable heat can said in Tunisia Chehili Sahara Wind sirocco bring.
Precipitation occurs almost only in the winter months and is mostly brought in from the deep foothills of the west wind drift further north . In summer the entire country lies in the area of the subtropical high pressure zone, which diverts the low pressure areas of the west wind drift around the Mediterranean Sea. However, in exceptional cases, heavy rains can also occur in summer, which transform previously dried out wadis into torrential torrents. While in the north the annual rainfall is 500 to a maximum of 1000 mm on the north coast and in the mountains and is therefore sufficient for successful rain-fed agriculture, in the south the evaporation is stronger than the irregular rainfall of at most 200 mm per year.
Climate table Tunisia
Flora and fauna
On the north coast and in the Atlas Mountains there is a Mediterranean deciduous and scrub forest ( maquis ) with holm oak , cork oak and Aleppo pine , where not only small game but also wild boar find food. Between 1990 and 2000, the forest population increased by 0.2%.
In the Djebel Chambi National Park, the endangered Cuvier gazelle live next to the mane sheep . The Dorkas gazelle lives in the adjoining southern steppes and semi-deserts and there are also a few specimens of the dune gazelle . The saber antelope also originally appeared in these arid zones; this has now been resettled in spacious, fenced areas in the Bou Hedma National Park . In the desert areas there are also numerous smaller animal species such as grasshoppers , scorpions , snakes and various species of birds. The wetlands of Ichkeul National Park in the north of the country are an important bird sanctuary and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
|Data on the Tunisian population 2017|
|Population density||62.2 inhabitants / km²|
|growth of population||0.86%|
Median age (total population)
- 0-14 years
- 15-64 years
- from 65 years
Proportion of men in the total population
- At birth
- Under 15 years
- 15–64 years
- from 65 years
|0.99 men / women
1.07 men / women
1.066 men / women
1.009 men / women
0.76 men / women
|Proportion of urban population||66.8%|
Sources: UN estimates, world population forecast:
Y-axis : inhabitants in millions
Tunisia passed the 11 million threshold in 2014. This meant a tripling of the population since 1956 and a doubling since 1970. However, since 1990 the population growth has slowed . Tunisia today has the “oldest” population in Africa (based on the median , which is 32.4 years), the lowest birth rate in the Arab world (1.9 children per woman) and a population growth of around one percent.
The vast majority of Tunisians identify culturally with the Arabs , although studies show that they are ethnically closer to the Berbers and also to the Iberians , while the genetic proportion of the Arabs who populated the region in the 7th and 8th centuries is lower fails. Among the civilizations that have inhabited the area now Tunisia and were assimilated to each varying degrees that are Phoenicians , the Romans , from Germania coming Vandals , the Ottomans and finally the French . In addition, there were numerous Moors and Jews who were expelled from Spain in the 15th century .
The first Eastern Arabs came in the 7th century with the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb. They Islamized most of the Ifrīqiya . During this period, new cities such as Kairouan and Mahdia emerged . From the 11th century, the Banū Hilāl, expelled from Egypt , arrived in what is now Tunisia and sealed the linguistic and cultural Arabization of the country. The Berber language and culture has only survived in some geographically isolated areas in the mountains near Matmata , Tataouine , Gafsa or Sbeitla . Unlike in Morocco or Algeria , where the Berbers are an ethnic minority, their number in Tunisia is rather small.
Only 0.5% of the population were born abroad. Tunisia therefore has a very low proportion of foreigners.
Tunisia is among the Maghreb -Staaten the most uniform from a linguistic point of view country because almost the entire population Tunisian Arabic speaking and the writing Arabic , the official language of the country, dominated. There are no official regulations for Tunisian Arabic, which is actually a mixture of several dialects. It is mainly used as everyday language. Berber dialects are only occasionally used in the south of the country and on the island of Djerba .
During the time of the French protectorate in Tunisia, the French language was introduced, sometimes with compulsion, especially in educational institutions. After independence, the Arabic language was reintroduced in official institutions. Administration, justice and education remained bilingual for a long time. Tunisia is heavily exposed to the influence of European languages due to its geographical location as well as media and tourism, which promotes knowledge of these languages among Tunisians.
In the 1990s, French was pushed back from public life in Tunisia, on the one hand to simplify access to higher education and to enliven the Arab-Islamic flair in public space. Since October 1999 all business people have been required to use at least twice as much space for Arabic as for Latin characters in their advertising slogans. The administration was urged to switch all communications to Arabic, although so far this has only been successful in the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Parliament. French thus became a symbol of the upper bourgeoisie. The influence of tourists from Europe means that, in addition to French, English is increasingly used as a lingua franca.
In 2015, Tunisia invested 18% of the national budget in the education system and has a high literacy rate of over 80%. 91% of the children finished primary school and 71% finished secondary school. 30% of school leavers start studying.
In Tunisia, the mean school attendance of those over 25 increased from 3.4 years in 1990 to 7.1 years in 2015.
In the 2015 PISA ranking , Tunisia's students ranked 69th out of 72 countries in mathematics and 67th in reading comprehension and science.
The Islam is in Tunisia state religion ; 98% of the population profess this religion. 85% of Tunisian Muslims belong to the Maliki school of law of the Sunni denomination of Islam. The rest are Hanafis and Ibadis . Christians and Jews are small minorities, but the country has been tolerant of religious minorities. Radical Salafist currents have been enjoying strong popularity since the 2011 revolution .
In the folk belief of the Tunisians there are still pagan remnants such as the belief in the evil eye . The whole country is littered with Qubbas . These small, mostly white domed buildings are places of pilgrimage, often burial sites of Islamic saints ( marabouts ) , who are believed to be ambassadors between man and God . In popular Islam, marabouts are asked for help, even if this is referred to as idolatry ( shirk ) by official Sunniism . Black African slaves brought to Stambali - obsessively cult that has spread as socially a marginal phenomenon even among Arab Tunisians.
Judaism was once very important in Tunisia, today there are only around 1500 Jews. The al-Ghriba Synagogue (The Amazing), one of the oldest synagogues in the world , has been on the island of Djerba for probably over 1000 years . Every year the largest Jewish pilgrimage in North Africa takes place there, to which believers from all over the world are expected. Most of the Muslim Kharidjites live on Djerba .
The constitution of Tunisia provides for the free exercise of one's belief as long as this does not disturb public order. This fundamental right was generally respected by the Tunisian government. Religious political parties were not allowed, however, proselytism and polygamy are forbidden. Wearing of the hijab was restricted and not allowed in the administration and public schools, this ban was lifted after the fall of the Ben Ali regime in spring 2011. Islamic holidays (such as the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice , the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast or the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed ) are public holidays in Tunisia.
For 2007, the number of Tunisians living abroad was estimated at one million people. 84% of this is in Europe, 600,000 in France alone , 143,000 in Italy and 80,000 in Germany . 26,000 Tunisians live in North America and 140,000 in the Arab states, 80% of them in the Maghreb countries (mainly in the neighboring states of Libya and Algeria , where they can quickly integrate culturally as neighbors) and around 24,655 highly qualified workers in the Gulf states. The Tunisians in European countries usually have dual citizenship . Most of them either emigrated to Europe in the 19th century during the French protectorate or came as guest workers in the 1950s and 1960s . These emigrants are of great importance for the Tunisian economy: on the one hand they transfer large sums to support the relatives who stayed at home, on the other hand returnees from abroad invest a lot in local businesses.
After the Ibéromaurusien , a culture widespread on the North African coast, the Capsien followed . From this culture, 15,000-year-old skeletons and tools have been found, indicating that the Capsien people made stone tools as well as needles from bones for sewing clothes from animal skins.
During the Neolithic Age , the Sahara was formed with its current climate. This epoch is marked by the immigration of the Berbers . First contacts arose with the Phoenicians in Tire , who began to colonize what is now Tunisia towards the end of the Neolithic and later founded the Carthaginian Empire .
Punic and Roman Carthage
Today's Tunisia saw the establishment of trading establishments by settlers from the eastern Mediterranean at the beginning of historical records . According to legend, the first of these settlements was Utica in 1101 BC. In the year 814 BC Chr. Established from Tyros coming Phoenician town settlers Carthage . According to legend, it was Queen Élyssa , sister of the King of Tyr, Pygmalion , who founded the city.
Carthage became the greatest power in the western Mediterranean within 150 years. The influence came partly through colonization, but mostly through trading establishments and contracts. This power and the high agricultural potential of the Carthaginian motherland led to the interest of the young, growing Roman Empire being aroused and a confrontation that culminated in the three Punic Wars . Carthage and his troops led by Hannibal , among others, were able to bring the Roman Empire to the brink of defeat several times during the Second Punic War (218–201 BC). At the end of the Third Punic War (149–146 BC), the city of Carthage was besieged for three years and ultimately destroyed. The area of what is now Tunisia became part of the Roman province of Africa with Utica as its capital . In 44 BC Caesar decided to found a colonia in Carthage, but this was not realized by Augustus until several decades later, and in the year 14 Carthage became the capital of Africa.
Along with Egypt , Africa became one of the most important suppliers of agricultural products to Rome, above all it supplied grain and olive oil . A dense network of Roman settlements emerged, the ruins of which can still be seen today, such as Dougga (Roman Thugga ), Sbeitla (Sufetula) , Bulla Regia , El Djem (Thysdrus) or Thuburbo Majus . Africa, together with Numidia , was a very prosperous province for six centuries, where the art of mosaic flourished. Thanks to its role as a hub of antiquity, Jews and the first Christians also settled in what is now Tunisia.
Christianity spread quickly, largely with the arrival of settlers, traders, and soldiers. Carthage gained notoriety in this respect that the influential Christian apologist Tertullian lived and worked here, so that North Africa developed into one of several centers of Christianity in the near future. The pagan population initially opposed the new cult, later Christianization was also enforced by force. From 400 onwards, Christianity penetrated all walks of life through the activities of Augustine of Hippo and his bishops, bringing the urban aristocracy and landowners on their side. Crises such as the Donatist church schism , which was averted with the Council of Carthage , was quickly overcome by Christianity thanks to the good economic and social situation. This is evidenced by the ruins of buildings such as the Basilica of Carthage or the numerous churches that were built on pagan temples (such as in Sufetula ).
On October 19, 439, the Vandals and Alans conquered Carthage and established a kingdom that lasted a century. The Vandals were among the Arianism to, a faith that in the First Council of Nicaea to heresy had been declared. They demanded loyalty to their faith from the mostly Catholic population and responded to their refusal with violence. Catholic Church properties were confiscated. The culture of the local population remained untouched and Christianity also flourished, as far as the new rulers tolerated it. The Vandal Empire went under after the lost battle of Tricamarum , in which the Vandals under King Gelimer were defeated by the Eastern Roman troops of Belisarius . Emperor Justinian I made Carthage a diocese and, in 590, the Exarchate of Carthage , which enjoyed a high level of civil and military autonomy from the central imperial power. Pagans, Jews and heretics were soon persecuted by the Byzantine central authority, which wanted to make Christianity the state religion.
Islamization and Arabization
The first Arab forays into what is now Tunisia began in 647. In 661, Bizerte was captured in a second offensive ; the decision was made after the third offensive led by Uqba ibn Nafi in 670 and the founding of Kairouan, which later became the starting point for the Arab expeditions to the northern and western Maghreb. The death of Uqba ibn Nafi in 693 only brought the Arab conquest to a temporary halt; In 695 the Ghassanid general Hassan Ibn Numan took Carthage. The Byzantines, whose naval forces were superior to the Arabs, attacked and captured Carthage in 696, while in 697 the Berbers under al-Kahina defeated the Arabs in battle. In 698, however, the Arabs again conquered Carthage and also defeated al-Kahina.
Unlike previous conquerors, the Arabs were not satisfied with just occupying the coastal areas, but also set about conquering the interior of the country. After some resistance, most of the Berbers converted to Islam, mainly through joining the Arab forces. Religious schools were established in the newly built ribats . At the same time, however, numerous Berbers joined the Kharijite denomination , which proclaimed the equality of all Muslims regardless of their race or class. Today's Tunisia remained a province of the Umayyads until it fell to the Abbasids in 750 . Between 767 and 776 the entire territory of Tunisia was ruled by the Berber Kharijites under Abu Qurra , who later had to retreat to their kingdom of Tlemcen .
In the year 800 the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Raschid handed over his power over Ifrīqiya to the Emir Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab and also gave him the right to inherit his function. Thus the Aghlabid dynasty was founded, which ruled the central and eastern Maghreb for a century. Today's Tunisia became an important cultural area with the city of Kairouan and its Great Mosque at the center. Tunis became the capital of the Emirates until 909.
The Aghlabid emirate disappeared within 15 years (893–909) due to the activities of the proselytic Ismaili Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Shīʿī , supported by a fanatical army recruited from the Berber Kutāma tribe. In December 909, Abdallah al-Mahdi proclaimed himself caliph and thus founded the Fatimid dynasty. At the same time he declared the Sunni Umayyads and the Abbasids to be usurpers . The Fatimid state spread its influence over the whole of North Africa by bringing the caravanserais and thus the trade routes with sub-Saharan Africa under its control. One last major revolt of the Kharijite Banu-Ifran tribe under Abu Yazid was suppressed. The third Fatimid caliph Ismail al-Mansur moved the capital to Kairouan and conquered Sicily in 948. In 972, three years after the region was completely conquered, the Fatimid dynasty moved its base to the east. Caliph Abu Tamim al-Muizz placed rule over Ifriqiya in the hands of Buluggin ibn Ziri , who founded the Zirid dynasty. The Zirids gradually gained independence from the Fatimid caliph, which ended in a complete break with the Fatimids. These retaliated for the betrayal by providing Bedouin tribes (the Banū Hilāl and Banu Sulaym ) from Egypt with property titles on land in Ifriqiya and letting them go against the Zirids. Kairouan was subsequently conquered and looted after five years of resistance. In 1057 the Zirids fled to Mahdia , while the conquerors moved on towards what is now Algeria. The Zirids then tried unsuccessfully to retake Sicily, which had now been occupied by the Normans, and for 90 years they tried to regain parts of their former territory. They switched to piracy in order to get rich in maritime trade.
This migration was the most crucial event in the history of the medieval Maghreb. It has destroyed the traditional balance between nomadic and sedentary Berbers and led to a mix of the population. The Arab that was spoken until then only by the urban elite and the court began, the Berber dialects influence.
From the first third of the 12th century, Tunisia was subject to frequent attacks by the Normans from Sicily and southern Italy . The territory of Ifriqiya was conquered from the west at the same time (1159) by the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu'min . Economy and trade flourished; Trade relations were established with the main cities on the Mediterranean. The economic boom caused the Almohad century to go down in history as the golden age of the Maghreb , when large cities developed with magnificent mosques and scientists like Ibn Chaldūn worked.
The Almohads handed the administration of what is now Tunisian territory into the hands of Abu Muhammad Abdalwahid , but his son Abu Zakariya Yahya I broke away in 1228 and founded the Hafsid dynasty . The first Tunisian dynasty ruled between 1236 and 1574. The capital was moved to Tunis, which developed quickly thanks to maritime trade.
From the second half of the 14th century, the Hafsids slowly lost control of their territory and, especially after the lost battle of Kairouan (1348), came under the influence of the Merinids of Abu Inan Faris . The plague of 1384 hit Ifriqiya with full force and contributed to the population decline since the invasions by the Banū Hilāl . At the same time, Moors and Jews began to immigrate from Andalusia . The Spaniards under Ferdinand II and Isabella I conquered the cities of Mers-el-Kébir , Oran , Bejaia , Tripoli and the island off the coast of Algiers . The Hafsiden rulers felt compelled to enlist the help of the corsair brothers Khair ad-Din Barbarossa and Arudsch .
In their distress, the Hafsids allowed the corsairs to use the port of La Goulette and the island of Djerba as a base. After the death of Arudsch , his brother Khair ad-Din Barbarossa made himself a vassal of the Sultan of Istanbul and was appointed by him as admiral of the Ottoman Empire . He conquered Tunis in 1534, but had to withdraw from the city in 1535 after it had been conquered by an armada of Charles V in the Tunis campaign . In 1574 Tunis was conquered again by the Ottomans, this time under the leadership of Kılıç Ali Paşa . Tunisia thus became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The new rulers, however, had little interest in Tunisia and their importance steadily decreased at the expense of local rulers; there were only 4,000 janissaries stationed in Tunis. In 1590 there was a Janissary uprising, as a result of which a Dey was put at the head of the state. A Bey was subordinate to him, who was responsible for the administration of the land and tax collection. The pasha , who was assimilated to the Bey , only had the task of representing the Ottoman Sultan . In 1612 Murad Bey founded the Muradite dynasty , on July 15, 1705 Husain I ibn Ali made himself the Bey of Tunis and founded the Husainid dynasty . Under the Husainids, Tunisia achieved a high degree of independence, although it was officially still an Ottoman province. Ahmad I. al-Husain , who ruled from 1837 to 1855, initiated a push of modernization with important reforms such as the abolition of slavery and the adoption of a constitution .
French protectorate, struggle for independence
Economic difficulties caused by a ruinous policy of the Beys, high taxes and foreign influence forced the government to declare national bankruptcy in 1869 and to set up an international British-French-Italian finance commission. Due to its strategic location, Tunisia quickly became a target for French and Italian interests. The consuls of France and Italy tried to take advantage of the Beys' financial troubles, with France trusting England to be neutral (England had no interest in Italy taking control of the Suez Canal by sea ), and also that Bismarck wanted to divert France's attention from the Alsace-Lorraine question.
Raids by looters from Kroumirie into the territory of Algeria provided Jules Ferry with the pretext to conquer Tunisia. In April 1881 French troops penetrated Tunisia and within three weeks captured Tunis without encountering any resistance worth mentioning. On May 12, 1881, Bey Muhammad III. Al-Husain was forced to sign the Bardo Treaty , which made Tunisia a French protectorate. Riots around Kairouan and Sfax were quickly stifled a few months later. The Treaty of la Marsa of June 8, 1883 gave France extensive powers in the foreign, defense and domestic policy of Tunisia. France thus incorporated the country into its colonial empire and subsequently represented it on the international stage. The Bey had to surrender almost all of its power to the General President. There has been progress in the economic field:
- Banks and companies were founded
- the agricultural area was expanded and used for the cultivation of grain and olives,
- In 1885, considerable phosphate deposits were discovered in the Seldja region . After the construction of some railway lines (see History of the Railway in Tunisia ), phosphate mining and iron ore mining began.
- A bilingual education system was introduced, allowing Tunisian elites to study in Arabic and French.
Resistance to the French occupation began at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1907, Béchir Sfar , Ali Bach Hamba and Abdeljelil Zaouche founded the reformist intellectual movement Jeunes Tunisia . This nationalist tendency was evident in the Djellaz affair in 1911 and in the boycott of the tramway in Tunis in 1912. From 1914 to 1921, Tunisia was in a state of emergency and any anti-colonialist press release was banned. Nevertheless, the national movement got more support and at the end of the First World War the Destur party was founded by a group around Abdelaziz Thâalbi . After its official establishment on June 4, 1920, it announced an eight-point program. The lawyer Habib Bourguiba , who had previously denounced the protectorate regime in magazines such as La Voix du Tunisien or L'Étendard tunisien , founded the magazine L'Action Tunisienne together with Tahar Sfar , Mahmoud Materi and Bahri Guiga in 1932 , which in addition to independence also for the laicism occurred. This position led to the split in the Destour party at the Ksar Hellal congress on March 2, 1934:
- The Islamist wing stayed with the old name Destour ;
- the modernist and secular wing was called Néo-Destour . He got himself a modern organization modeled on European socialist parties and decided that his goal was to seize power in order to change society.
After the failure of negotiations with the Léon Blum government , a number of bloody incidents occurred in 1937 , culminating in the violently suppressed riots of April 1938 . This suppression led the Néo-Destour to continue its struggle underground. In 1940, at the request of Mussolini , the Vichy regime extradited Bourguiba to Italy, who hoped that this would weaken the Resistance in North Africa. However, on August 8, 1942, Bourguiba called for support for the Allies . Shortly thereafter, the country became the scene of the battle for Tunisia , at the end of which the troops of the Axis powers were forced to surrender on May 11, 1943 at Cape Bon .
After World War II, armed resistance became part of the national liberation strategy. Negotiations with the French government were carried out and Robert Schuman even hinted at a gradual independence of Tunisia in 1950; However, nationalist disputes led to the failure of these negotiations in 1951.
With the arrival of the new General President, Jean de Hauteclocque , on January 13, 1952, and the arrest of 150 Destour members on January 18, an armed revolt began as the fronts hardened on both sides. The assassination of the trade unionist Farhat Hached by the colonialist extremist organization La Main Rouge led to rallies, riots, strikes and acts of sabotage, whereby the target became increasingly the structures of colonization and government. France mobilized 70,000 soldiers to bring the Tunisian guerrilla groups under control. This situation was only defused with the assurance of internal autonomy for Tunisia by Pierre Mendès France on July 31, 1954. On July 3, 1955, Tunisia's Prime Minister Tahar Ben Ammar and his French counterpart Edgar Faure signed the Franco-Tunisian treaties. Despite resistance from Salah Ben Youssef , who was subsequently expelled from the Neo-Destour party, the treaties were ratified by the Neo-Destour Congress on November 15 in Sfax . After new negotiations, France recognized the independence of Tunisia on March 20, 1956, while keeping the military base in Bizerte .
Tunisia after its independence
On March 25, 1956, the country's constituent national assembly was elected. The Néo-Destour won all the seats and Bourguiba took over the presidency. On April 11th he was proclaimed Prime Minister by Lamine Bey . On August 13th, the progressive Tunisian Civil Status Act was passed. On July 25, 1957, the monarchy was abolished, Lamine Bey had to abdicate, and Tunisia became a republic . Bourguiba was elected its first president on November 8, 1959.
The legal basis of the constitution was based on French law. Active and passive women's suffrage was introduced on June 1, 1959. On the basis of an ordinance, women exercised the right to vote and stand for election for the first time in city council elections in May 1957.
Islam was the state religion (Article 1); Tunisia was the only Arab country that had abolished the Islamic Sharia legal system in its constitution of June 1, 1959. Only Article 38 of the Tunisian constitution stipulated that the president must be a Muslim. After independence, women were given equal status with men in family law (marriage, divorce, custody). Tunisia had a parliament that consisted of two chambers (" bicameral system "):
- The Chamber of Deputies (Chambre des députés) with members elected for five years. The electoral law stipulated that at least 20% of the parliamentary seats should go to the opposition as well
- The Council Chamber (Chambre des conseillers) (only in existence since 2005) with councils elected for six years. The councils were indirect, i. H. Appointed by the Chamber of Deputies, the President or local councils. The only party represented in this chamber was the RCD. The legislative initiative lay with the president or with the 'Chambre des députés'; in practice it was mostly taken care of by the president.
In 1958 there was an international incident with many civilian casualties when the French bombed the border town of Sakiet Sidi Youssef in retaliation against FNL fighters operating from Tunisia as part of the Algerian War. In 1961, when the end of the Algerian War was in sight, Tunisia demanded the return of the Bizerte military base. The following Bizerte crisis claimed around 1,000 lives, the majority of them Tunisians. It ended with the return of the base on October 15, 1963.
After the assassination of Salah Ben Youssef, the most important opposition activist since 1955, and the ban on the Communist Party on January 8, 1963, the Tunisian republic became a one-party state led by the Neo-Destour. Its successor, the Constitutional Democratic Collection (RCD) founded in 1988 , was also the dominant party until January 2011. Most recently (2010) she sent 152 of the 189 parliamentarians.
In March 1963, Ahmed Ben Salah initiated a socialist policy under which practically the entire Tunisian economy was nationalized. In 1969, however, Ben Salah was fired after unrest over the collectivization of agriculture; the socialist experiment was also over. The ailing economy and the pan-Arabism preached by Muammar al-Gaddafi led to a political project launched in 1974 to unite Tunisia and Libya under the name of the Arab Islamic Republic . However, this project was dropped again after national and international tensions.
The sentencing of Ben Salah to a long prison term ushered in a period in which the liberal wing led by Ahmed Mestiri of the party now renamed the PSD gained the upper hand. Bourguiba was made president for life in 1975, the trade union federation UGTT gained a certain autonomy during the government of Hédi Nouira , and the Tunisian Human Rights League was founded in 1977. The awakening civil society could no longer be silenced by the acts of violence against the UGTT on Black Tuesday in January 1978 and the attacks on the mining town of Gafsa in January 1980.
At the beginning of the 1980s the country fell into a political and social crisis, the causes of which can be found in nepotism and corruption , in the paralysis of the state in view of Bourguiba's deteriorating health, in succession struggles and a general hardening of the regime. In 1981, the partial restoration of the pluralistic system raised hopes, but these were already destroyed by the election fraud in November of the same year. The bloody suppression of the Bread Unrest in December 1983, the renewed destabilization of the UGTT and the arrest of its chairman Habib Achour then contributed to the overthrow of the aging president and the increasing emergence of Islamism .
On November 7, 1987, Prime Minister Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali deposed President Bourguiba on the grounds of senility, which was welcomed by the majority of the political spectrum. In December 1987, Ben Ali dismissed six of the nine Politburo members of the ruling Parti Socialiste Destourien (PSD) and replaced them with personal confidants. After the change of power, several politicians in exile returned to Tunisia. At the end of 1987, 2,500 prisoners, including 600 Islamic fundamentalists, were released from prisons. In terms of foreign policy, Ben Ali relied on closer cooperation with the Maghreb states and resumed the diplomatic relations with Libya that had broken off in 1985.
Ben Ali was elected on April 2, 1989 with 99.27% of the vote and subsequently managed to stimulate the economy again. Ben Ali actively fought radical Islamism and thus spared Tunisia the violence that shook neighboring Algeria; the Ennahda party was neutralized, tens of thousands of militant Islamists arrested and sentenced in numerous trials in the early 1990s. The leading wing of the Ennahda movement lived in exile in France and Great Britain. The secular opposition founded in 1988 with the Pacte National a platform aiming to democratize the regime. The political opposition and non-governmental organizations, meanwhile, began accusing the regime of restricting civil rights for expanding repression beyond the fight against radical Islamism. In the 1994 presidential election, Ben Ali was re-elected with 99.91% of the vote; in 1995 he signed a free trade agreement with the European Union. The presidential election on November 24, 1999 was the first pluralistic election in the country's history, but was won by Ben Ali with a similar share of the vote as in previous elections. The 2002 constitutional amendment increased the president's power. In the same year, Islamic terrorism spoke up with the attack on the al-Ghriba synagogue .
In 2009, the citizens of Tunisia were severely restricted in their right to vote out the government and their right to freedom of expression. The government introduced strict restrictions on freedom of expression, the press and freedom of assembly in the run-up to the October 2009 election . Public criticism was not tolerated. There have been numerous reports of opposition citizens being deliberately intimidated through criminal investigations, arbitrary arrests, travel restrictions and controls to prevent criticism. Local and international non-governmental organizations reported that security forces mistreated prisoners. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was last confirmed in office in October 2009 with 89.28 percent of the vote; the next presidential election should take place at the end of 2014. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown due to public pressure from the massive protests that began in December 2010. After fleeing to Saudi Arabia, the President of the Parliament Fouad Mebazaa temporarily assumed office on January 14, 2011.
Revolution and new constitution (from 2010)
On January 4, 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi , a 26-year-old man, died in a hospital in Tunis from injuries he self-immolated on December 17, 2010 in the provincial capital Sidi Bouzid . The greengrocer had set himself on fire in front of the government building to protest the police's confiscation of his fruit and vegetable stall. Solidarity rallies followed across the country, which expanded into rallies critical of the regime. Demands for freedom of the press and freedom of expression mixed with criticism of corruption and censorship. The anger of the Tunisians was also directed against the kleptocracy in the vicinity of Ben Ali, in particular through the numerous family members of his wife, members of the Trabelsi family, who have taken possession of important companies in Tunisia due to political influence.
During the unrest in January 2011, a curfew was imposed on the capital and parts of its suburbs. President Ben Ali responded to the unrest by declaring a state of emergency . He dissolved the government and announced early elections before he fled the country on January 14, 2011 due to growing protests. The duties of office were temporarily transferred from the Constitutional Council to the President of Parliament, Fouad Mebazaa , after being briefly led by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi . The transitional government formed by Ghannouchi announced freedom of the press and the release of all political prisoners. On February 3, 2011, interim president Mebazaâ announced in a speech to the nation the election of a constituent assembly to initiate the “final break” with the Ben Ali system. The Tunisian popular uprising, called the “ Arab Spring ” , triggered similar movements in almost the entire Arab region, overthrowing the rulers in Libya and Egypt, among others.
On October 23, 2011, the first free elections to a constituent assembly took place, from which the Islamist Ennahda party emerged as the strongest with 90 of the 217 seats. The assembly met for the first time on November 22, 2011. With the help of the Congress Party, Moncef Marzouki was elected as the new President on December 12, 2011. He appointed Hamadi Jebali as prime minister on December 24th .
The Constituent Assembly included: represent the following parties:
- the Islamic Ennahda movement with 90 of the 217 seats
- the Social Liberal Congress for the Republic (CPR) with 29 seats
- the populist popular petition for freedom, justice and development with 26 seats
- the social democratic democratic forum for work and freedom (Ettakatol - FDTL) with 20 seats
- the secular and liberal Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) with 16 seats
- the left-leaning, secular democratic-modernist pole including the post-communist Ettajdid movement, with five seats
- the party The initiative , a de facto successor party of the banned RCD, which represents the old Ben Ali system, with five seats
- the bourgeois-liberal party Afek Tounes with four seats and
- the Tunisian Communist Workers Party with three seats
Even after its electoral victory for the Constituent Assembly, the Ennahda movement was assessed differently: Its members were “bourgeois-conservative Muslims”, “moderate Islamists” or “militant Islamists”. Although the Ennahda had always condemned the actions of the Islamists and their election manifesto was moderate (e.g. gender equality), quite a few Tunisians feared that this demand could be thrown off as a cover after an election victory.
In 2012/13 there were attacks on MPs and politicians who did not belong to the Ennahda party. The murder of the left opposition politician Chokri Belaïd on February 6, 2013, a prominent critic of the Ennahda party, and Mohamed Brahmis on July 15, 2013 led to mass demonstrations against the ruling party. After the victory of this party, many women felt that their rights, which Bourguiba had already granted them in 1956 and then Ben Ali, had been endangered. For example, they should no longer be “equal” to men, but “complement” them (draft constitution of August 2012). There were demonstrations against this until 2013. Prime Minister Jebali resigned on February 19. His successor was the previous Minister of the Interior, Ali Larajedh , who a year later, on January 29, 2014, gave way to Mehdi Jomaâ and his government of technocrats as part of a national dialogue . Since the end of 2014, Beji Caid Essebsi was the first democratically elected president of an Arab country; on January 5, 2015, he appointed Habib Essid Prime Minister. Essebsi died in office on July 25, 2019.
On February 7, 2014, the new constitution, which a majority of 200 MPs (out of a total of 216) from almost all parties had agreed on January 27, was solemnly adopted. It guarantees freedom of belief and conscience as well as equality between men and women and at the time of its adoption is "unique in the Arab world".
The distribution of power between the president and prime minister is intended to prevent an autocratic regime in the future. A new constitutional court is to watch over the legality of future legal reforms. This is intended to protect the separation of powers in the future.
One of the biggest points of contention until the end was the role of religion in the new Tunisia. While the preamble and article 1 of the constitution mention Islam without going into its importance for the state, the text becomes more specific in some places. Article 6 guarantees freedom of belief and conscience and even - unthinkable in other Arab countries - the right to no belief at all, but only a half-sentence later stipulates that the state protects “the sacred”. Islam is the state religion, but Sharia is not a source of law.
On June 1, 2014, the Commission for Truth and Dignity began its work, which was supposed to deal with human rights violations between 1955 and 2013. She presented her final report on March 26, 2019.
In 2015, Tunisia was the first Arab country to be rated “free” on the Freedom House organization's Freedom Map . In 2017 it received the top grade 1 in the evaluation of political rights. In 2015 the Tunisian Quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts towards democratization and national dialogue after the revolution .
Equality between women and men was an important issue in the constitution. The advancement of women has been part of Tunisian politics since the mid-1950s. As early as 1956, after independence, women in Tunisia were largely given equal rights, they were allowed to vote and file for divorce; only the Islamic inheritance law, in which sons have a higher share than daughters, was retained. In the meantime, the new Articles 20 and 45 not only completely equate men and women, but also guarantee equal opportunities and advocate that a certain number of seats in city and district councils must be given to women. Nevertheless, the ' state feminism ' has been criticized by Tunisian women's movements because, despite all state efforts, women continue to be disadvantaged.
Politics and administration
|Name of the index||Index value||Worldwide rank||Interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||68.1 out of 120||95 of 178||Stability of the country: Warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|Democracy index||6.59 from 10||54 of 167||Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World||70 out of 100||---||Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Freedom of the press ranking||29.53 out of 100||73 of 180||Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||44 out of 100||69 of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
Since the beginning of democratization in the wake of the Arab Spring, the situation of press freedom has improved significantly. In 2010, Tunisia was still in 164th place in the ranking. The situation was classified as "difficult". The democracy index also shows significant improvements. In 2010 the country was still below three points and was classified as an authoritarian regime. In the following years the value skyrocketed. Tunisia has been described as an incomplete democracy since 2014.
Torture by state authorities occurs regularly in Tunisia. Torture, arbitrary arrests, house searches, raids and travel bans are occurring across the country, according to a 2017 report by Amnesty International . Arrests are made because of conspicuous looks, religious statements or offenses that have already been served. The organization criticized the impunity for human rights violations that promote the culture of violence.
Until the end of the dictatorship in 2011, authorities often acted brutally against their own citizens. In 2016, laws were passed to protect against human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, however, an anti-terror law passed in 2015 gives the authorities far-reaching powers and defines the “concept of terrorism” very broadly.
Tunisia is divided into 24 governorates , the geographic size of which is adapted to the number of inhabitants:
The governorates are administratively subdivided into a total of 264 delegations (similar to rural districts), which in turn contain the actual municipalities or, in larger cities, the districts.
In 2016, 67.0% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The 5 largest cities are (as of 2017):
- Tunis : 638,845 inhabitants
- Sfax : 272,801 inhabitants
- Sousse : 221,530 inhabitants
- Ettadhamen : 142,953 inhabitants
- Kairouan : 139,070 inhabitants
Relations with the states of the European Union have the highest priority for Tunisia, as these are the country's most important investment and trading partners. In addition, a large proportion of the tourists who visit the country come from the states of Europe. The further development of relations is therefore a long-term strategic goal of Tunisia's foreign policy.
The EU promotes good governance and the rule of law, sustainable growth and employment and social cohesion through financial aid and comprehensive programs as part of its neighborhood policy. Tunisia cooperates with the European Union as part of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership .
Another important foreign policy partner is the United States . A friendship treaty between the two countries has existed since 1799. Today's relations are based primarily on close security and military cooperation. After the democratic constitution was passed in 2014, the United States and Tunisia continued to grow closer. In 2015, President Essebsi made a state visit to the United States. Since the same year Tunisia has belonged to the group of major non-NATO ally and thus one of the USA's closest allies outside of NATO. Within the Arab countries, Tunisia tries to adopt a balancing stance and represents comparatively pro-Western positions. Tunisia maintains friendly relations with all states in North Africa. The fall of the Morsi government in Egypt briefly worsened relations with Tunisia under the Ennahda government. With Caid Essebsi's presidency from 2015, they improved again. In neighboring Libya, Tunisia is interested in a political solution to the civil war that has been going on since 2011 and would like to actively participate in a solution to the conflict together with the neighboring states and the United Nations .
|Change in GDP (real)|
|Development of GDP (nominal)|
|absolute (in billion US $)|
|per inhabitant (in US $)|
|Development of the inflation rate|
|in% compared to the previous year|
|Development of the budget balance|
|in% of GDP
("minus" = deficit in the national budget)
The gross domestic product (GDP) rose steadily from around 1990 to 2009. This was possible due to the political stability and continuity in the country. Tunisia is therefore classified as an emerging market by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and is one of the most competitive countries in Africa. Tunisia's GDP was US $ 41.8 billion in 2016. The gross domestic product per capita was around 3,730 US dollars in the same year. The greatest economic challenges for Tunisia lie in combating the high unemployment rate that has been high for years and increasing the level of investment in the private and public sectors. Structural reforms are also considered necessary. The unemployment rate was around 14% in 2016. For young people and academics , however, unemployment is significantly higher and is over 20%.
The Tunisian economy is characterized by its strong focus on Europe (foreign trade and tourism). The country cannot therefore decouple itself from the economic cycle in the EU.
In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Tunisia ranks 95th out of 137 countries (2017-2018). In the index for economic freedom in 2021, the country ranks 119th out of 178 countries.
Agriculture employs 18% of the workforce and in 2007 generated 11.5% of GDP. In the northern part of the country, mainly cereals (wheat, barley), citrus fruits, dates and vegetables are grown and cattle are kept. The extensive olive cultures are characteristic ; Tunisia is one of the most important exporters of olive oil . Viticulture is also important . In the south there is isolated oasis farming and extensive cattle breeding (sheep, goats).
Agriculture consumes around 80% of the country's fresh water, the irrigated area has increased from 65,000 hectares (1956) to 345,000 hectares today. However, the sector is relatively unproductive and has practically stagnated since 1992; the World Bank recommends further deregulation, but this is incompatible with the government's poverty reduction goals. Agriculture is also affected by desertification and soil erosion , with 20,000 hectares of agricultural land being lost every year. After the world market prices for those agricultural products that Tunisia depends on to import have risen sharply in recent years, the government has declared self-sufficiency as its goal.
In 2006, almost 110,000 tons of fish were processed in Tunisia, most of it in intensively managed coastal waters. The government is trying to develop deep sea fishing ; the cooling and port infrastructure for this is now available.
Natural resources and energy
The most important mineral resources are phosphates , crude oil , gold , natural gas , iron ores , zinc and lead . For January 2006, Tunisia's oil reserves were estimated at 308 million barrels. In 2005, 75,000 barrels of oil were produced daily. Tunisia is therefore only a very small oil producer. A lot has been invested in Tunisia's oil and natural gas production in recent years and production will be around 8.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2009. That means an increase of 50% compared to 2005. For 2007, this resulted in a balanced energy balance for the first time in a long time. In addition to its own production, Tunisia receives free gas deliveries as payment for the pipeline from Algeria to Italy, which runs through Tunisian territory. The own promotion of energy sources helps to mitigate the effects of the rising world market prices for energy. Tunisia has only one refinery , which is located in Bizerte and is operated by the Société Tunisienne des Industries de Raffinage (STIR). But it only has a capacity of 34,000 barrels per day (≈ 1.7 million tons per year). Another refinery in Skhira is under construction, it will have a capacity of six million tons per year.
The extraction of phosphate minerals (about 60% calcium phosphate ) in the south of the country began around 1899. The deposits were discovered in the period 1885–1886. The Compagnie des phosphates et du chemin de fer de Gafsa built a 200-kilometer railway line between the port city of Sfax and the mining center of Métlaoui . Up to the present time, the railroad development in the vicinity of the deposits has been further expanded. Phosphate mining is of great economic importance for Tunisia . Numerous new settlements were built in the semi-arid region to accommodate the necessary labor .
In 2006, Tunisia generated 12.85 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy. Of this, 12.66 billion came from conventional thermal power plants. Most of these are operated with natural gas. The installation of nuclear reactors with French support is on the agenda. Renewable energies only play a very subordinate role, investments are primarily made in the generation of energy from wind. The state-owned Société Tunisienne de l'Electricité et du Gaz (STEG) had a monopoly on power generation and marketing until 1996, and it still has the largest market share today. It states that 96% of the country has access to electrical energy.
The industrial sector accounted for 29% of GDP in 2005 and 32% of the workforce is employed here.
The most important branch of industry is the textile and leather branch. 40% of all industrial companies can be assigned to this branch, they employ 43% of the workers employed in the industry and generate 35% of the export value. The textile industry had a growth of 5.6% in 2007, although a crisis had been feared after the abolition of the multifibre agreement . It is to be expected that some of the companies will not survive the now stronger competition from Turkey, Egypt and the Far East. In the event of a serious crisis in the textile industry, difficulties for the entire Tunisian economy and serious social consequences are feared.
The chemical industry is primarily focused on processing Tunisian phosphate deposits . It is currently receiving strong impulses from the world market, where phosphate fertilizers ( superphosphates ) are in high demand, which is why several plants for the production of phosphoric acid are under construction.
The mechanical engineering and electrical engineering sector has grown in importance over the years, especially due to the outsourcing of the production of automotive parts. In 2009 the 190 companies in the automotive supply industry employed 40,000 people. A boom is predicted for the construction industry because some major projects by the government and Arab development companies are pending. In addition, the food and luxury food industry is important; it focuses on processing the country's agricultural products.
With 1,300 kilometers of coastline, mostly sandy beaches, and a rich cultural heritage, Tunisia has great tourist potential. Tourism has also become an important industry since the early 1970s, generating 5.8% of GDP in 2009. In 1971 Tunisia had 221 accommodation establishments with 41,000 beds; in 2005 there were 816 establishments with almost 230,000 beds. These figures clearly show that these are mainly large hotel complexes. Many of these club hotels have over 400 rooms. In 2007, 6.7 million foreign visitors visited Tunisia; the income amounted to 3.05 billion dinars. Destinations are coastal towns such as Hammamet , Nabeul , Sousse and Port El-Kantaoui , Monastir and Mahdia as well as the island of Djerba for recreation; From here you can explore the Sahara desert in the south or visit archaeological sites such as Carthage , near the capital Tunis in the north of the country .
A little more than half of the tourists come from Central Europe, followed by the neighboring countries Libya and Algeria , which together account for around 20% of the number of overnight stays. In contrast, 82% of tourism income comes from the EU. In 2001 around one million tourists from Germany visited Tunisia, this number has since decreased by 50%. The Tunisian Ministry of Tourism is trying to advertise in Europe in order to rid the country of its cheap image. So far, it has not been successful, direct competitors on the tourism market such as Egypt , Morocco or Turkey have recorded higher increases in visitors and sales.
As a result of the unstable political situation, there was a sharp slump in Tunisia's tourism sector in 2011, which the German Foreign Office put at 60 percent in the middle of the year . "In addition, almost 3,000 jobs in the 400,000-strong tourism sector have been cut since the beginning of the year." In 2011, income from tourists amounted to 1,805 million US dollars.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic , described by Tunisian officials as catastrophic for the tourism sector, revenue shrank by 60% to $ 563 million.
|Main trading partner (2016)|
|Export (in%) to||Import (in%) of|
|Germany||10.5||People's Republic of China||9.3|
|other countries||26.6||other countries||40.8|
Tunisian exports increased by 25% in 2007 compared to the previous year, while imports increased by 22%. These figures are mainly due to the slight depreciation of the dinar against the euro as well as the increased prices for crude oil that is exported and for oil products that are reimported.
Europe is by far the most important trading partner for Tunisia: around three quarters of imports come from Europe, and Europe is the buyer for 80% of exports. Traditionally in that order, France, Italy and Germany are the most important trading partners.
The main import goods are food, refined products, machinery, vehicles, telecom and IT equipment, as well as fabrics and leather. Textiles and leather products, crude oil, phosphate fertilizers and phosphoric acid as well as individual parts for motor vehicles are exported.
The trade balance of Tunisia is negative: the country imported more than it exported. The deficit is made up by tourism and payments made by Tunisians to relatives who stayed at home, so that the current account deficit is 3% of GDP, which needs to be replenished with direct investment from abroad. Direct investments in 2007 amounted to 1180.5 million euros, most of which went into infrastructure and the textile sector. Since the 1990s, Tunisia has opened up to foreign direct investment. There are currently around 3,000 companies run with foreign capital. They employ over 300,000 people. France, Italy and Germany are the most important countries of origin.
Since 2008 all tariffs on industrial goods between Tunisia and the EU have been abolished. The Agadir Agreement came into force in July 2006 and is intended to enable free trade and the dismantling of other trade barriers between Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. Tunisia has signed a free trade agreement with Turkey and is also working towards one with the US. With the economic union with Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania to form the Union of the Arab Maghreb , however, no result is in sight.
Tunisia's currency reserves amounted to US $ 6.7 billion in February 2016.
The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 11.77 billion US dollars, which were income equivalent to 9.88 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP. The national debt in 2016 amounted to approx. 60.6% of the economic output.
The share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) in the following areas is:
Tunisia's defense spending was around 2.6% of GDP in 2019. It maintains an army that consisted of 27,000 men in 2002, a navy with 4,500 men and an air force with 3,500 men. There is also a paramilitary national guard , which comprises 12,000 men. The regular armed forces are equipped with 84 M60 main battle tanks, 120 M113 transport tanks, 15 F-5 fighter aircraft, 12 Aero L-59 and 11 Aermacchi MB 326 training aircraft and 40 patrol boats.
There is compulsory military service for all men over 20. Military service lasts one year.
Tunisia is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty , the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention . The Tunisian military participated in several UN missions in Ethiopia and Eritrea ( UNMEE ) and in the Congo ( MONUC ).
Tunisia has a road network of almost 19,000 km, of which 257 km are motorways , almost 12,500 km of paved roads, the rest of which is unpaved. Construction of the roads began in the 1880s. From the 1920s, work began on building the coastal road (today's Route nationale 1 ) from Tunis via Sfax and Sousse to Gabès . The roads in the north of the country were networked, while the interior of the country had to wait until the 1950s to 1970s for traffic to be opened up. The first motorway was inaugurated in 1986.
Passenger traffic is largely carried out by road, either by bus, which is mainly offered by the state-owned Société nationale de transport inter-urbain . Shared taxis, called louage in Tunisia , are also popular.
Tunisia has a rail network of 2145 kilometers, most of which dates back to the colonial era. It serves 200 train stations. Long-distance traffic and the suburban railways of Tunis and Sousse are operated by the state-owned SNCFT , while the Société des transports de Tunis manages the TGM and the Tunis light rail system.
There are 30 airports in Tunisia , including seven international airports. The most important are Tunis Airport , Monastir and Djerba . At the end of 2009 , a new airport with a capacity of five million passengers went into operation near the city of Enfidha , Sousse Governorate . Its final capacity will be 22 million passengers. There are direct flights to Tunisia from many European airports, both in scheduled and charter flights. In addition to the national airline Tunisair , founded in 1948, there is another private airline, namely Nouvelair Tunisie .
Tunisia has trading ports in Bizerte , Gabès , La Goulette , Radès , Sfax , Sousse , Skhira and Zarzis . They are all subordinate to the state port authority Office de la Marine Marchande et des Ports , but are not considered to be particularly efficient. A deep-sea port is therefore to be built in Enfidha , 100 km south of Tunis , which will cost 1.4 billion euros and can handle 5 million TEUs per year.
Logistics and information technology are currently the fastest growing economic sectors in Tunisia, with a growth rate of 14% in 2007. This sector is also high on the government's long-term economic strategy. Almost 4 billion euros are to be invested in the expansion of the telecommunications infrastructure over the next few years and it is expected that this sector's share of GDP will rise to 27.5% within the next five years. Tunisia already ranks very high in the Network Readiness Index ; it is ahead of some EU states and takes second place among the Arab states.
For March 2016, the number of Tunisian internet users was given as 5.47 million or 48% of the population. In 2008 there were 204,000 Internet connections, of which 106,000 were ADSL connections. Tunisia now has a strong and well-networked blogger scene, which played a key role in organizing the Jasmine Revolution.
Since Tunisia has experienced several waves of immigration from Arabia, Spain, France, Turkey and the north-west African Berber empires over the centuries , the Tunisians differ in their culture from other Arab nations. This can be seen in the cityscape of Tunis (for example on the Place de Barcelone or in the Moorish-Andalusian town of Sidi Bou Saïd ), in the pottery and ceramic art (for example in Nabeul ), in numerous buildings from different epochs (for example the fort on Gulf of Hammamet) and in Tunisian cuisine (for example baguette , cheese, croissant , " macaroon " and some mountain dishes such as brik ).
Tunisia's architecture has absorbed many external influences. Here, European and North African styles have mixed with building traditions from the Arab-influenced Mediterranean area.
Early traces of architectural remains were found during excavations in paleolithic settlements. The Phoenicians left behind the oldest urban structures with their first trading establishments since the 12th century BC. In the country. Only a few evidence of this have survived. The city of Carthage is one of their foundations .
The Roman era in Tunisia had a major impact on the country's ancient architecture. It has been handed down in the form of archaeologically secured city structures and individual buildings. These include the ruins of Sbeitla .
The numerous preserved mosaics are a form of expression of the Roman architectural heritage that is still cultivated in a special way and is often presented in museums. These were created for the purpose of decorating floors and walls.
With the Arab power structures beginning in the 7th century, architectural and artistic forms of expression changed. Design elements from the Berber culture in the Maghreb mix , from the originally Roman and Byzantine traditions and the onset of oriental influences. The most important buildings in this epoch are palace cities (Qasr al-Qadīm) at the older camp settlements and other fortifications in Sfax and Sousse . The ribats represent a special form , whereby a fortification tower could also serve as a minaret . The first mosques in Tunisia date from this epoch. The most important of these structures include the main mosque in Kairouan and the Ez-Zitouna mosque in Tunis. They were started in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus is considered to be the architectural model . The main mosque of Kairouan in turn provided the model for other buildings in Spain and in North Africa. Spolia was built into medieval buildings if they could be recovered from accessible ruins under easy circumstances. However, facades with two-tone bricks are typical. In the 10th century, under the influence of the Fatimids and later the Zirids, more and more representative residential buildings developed. In the 12th century, the Almohads ruled in what is now Tunisia , and they brought influences from the Moroccan culture here.
The most extensive contribution in the historical architecture of Tunisia dates from the 13th to 15th centuries. The Berber-influenced Hafsiden adopted the forms and decorations of their architecture from the regions of Africa to the west of Tunisia and the Iberian Peninsula . An independent direction in building had already developed here, which developed from the combination of Moroccan and Andalusian influences into a specific architecture, which is later referred to as the general Moorish style . During this period, an Islamic university and madrasas in other places were built at the Ez-Zitouna mosque in Tunis . Maristān , the oldest Islamic hospital, opened here in 1420 . The expansion of water supply systems took place, partly using older Roman facilities. Under Abd al-Aziz II , the Hafsiden-Palast Bardo was built in Tunis, an early garden complex that was expanded around 1500 with new buildings and afterwards even had a library .
In the 16th century, Tunisia suffered a general decline. Conflicts with Spain hampered further developments. Spanish troops tried to fight pirate rule on islands ( Djerba 1511) and in port cities. During her brief reign, some fortresses were built, such as the one on Djerba. In 1570 they had to give up Tunis again and lost their influence on the region.
It was not until a large number of emigrants from Spain settled in North Africa in the 17th century that Tunisian architecture received new impulses. The Muslim and Jewish emigrants from Andalusia brought their experiences, aesthetic views and craft skills with them. Together with the parallel Turkish influences, a mixed style developed in Tunis. In building culture, using the example of mosques, this meant that their minaret was hardly ever built with a square, but now with an octagonal floor plan. As a result, they were increasingly given a gallery and a pointed roof. The interior areas of the palaces were increasingly equipped with a lush decoration in the Moorish style due to the new architectural developments. Italian style elements were added later. These principles continued into the 19th century, with buildings of the contemporary European style increasingly appearing in the cityscape of Tunis and some other cities.
The traditionally structured old town centers with a walled medina , the narrow streets and the mostly two-storey residential buildings were largely ignored by these urban developments and have been preserved to this day.
The French colonial power brought new trends and artists into the Tunisian cultural area. Le Corbusier had several villas built in Carthage . The architecture of the quarters of Europeans differed markedly from those of the local population. During this period, too, external architectural approaches were mixed with the experiences of regionally rooted builders. This structural development is reflected in numerous modern buildings by both private and public clients. Some souks with arcades and domed roofs date from this period . The Bizerte customs building, for example, is an outstanding individual building . At the beginning of the 20th century, European designs dominated the larger cities. They are characterized by reinforced concrete applications and the typical cubature of city villas. The rural settlements are still determined by traditional construction methods, such as subterranean tube structures and fortified granaries (for example in Tataouine ).
In the most recent period of the country, after independence in 1956, urban expansions and the construction of numerous public buildings took place. The reconstruction work in the city center of Tunis, which was carried out by Bulgarian architects after a competition result, played a special role .
Buildings from the youngest architectural epoch in Tunisia incorporate allusions to local ornaments in modern forms of construction with concrete and natural stone. The National Library in Tunis, a modern functional building, is an example of this link.
In Tunisia, literary life takes place in two languages: Arabic and French . Arabic literature has existed since the 7th century when Arab civilization spread over the territory of Tunisia; French-language literature has only existed since 1881. Today, Arabic-language literature is more important than French-language literature: of the 1249 new literary publications in 2002, 885 were in Arabic; more than a third of the new publications were children's books. Important Tunisian authors are Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi , Moncef Ghachem and Mahmoud Messadi , others can be found in the list of Tunisian writers .
The music of Tunisia is the result of the cultural mixture of Arabic-Andalusian music that refugees brought with them after the Spanish conquest of Andalusia in the 15th century, Arabic and Western music. It has many facets; the most famous classical music genre is the malouf . It is played by small orchestras consisting of violin , kanun , oud , cello , double bass , nay , darbouka and nagharats (a pair of small beaker drums). Classical chants are still popular with audiences today. Apart from the instrumentation, urban and rural music hardly differ. String instruments such as the rebec , the oud and the kanun as well as the darbouka dominate the urban environment . In the rural milieu and the chants of the Bedouins, wind instruments such as the mezwed and the gasba dominate in addition to percussion .
Among the most important singers in the country are Saliha , Khemaïs Tarnane , Ali Riahi , Hédi Jouini , Latifa Arfaoui , Mohamed Jamoussi , Cheikh El Afrit and Dhikra Mohamed . Among the instrumentalists, the oud players Anouar Brahem , Lotfi Bouchnak , Salah El Mahdi , Ridha Kalaï , Ali Sriti and Youssef Slama are the most important. El Azifet is an all- women orchestra, a rarity in the Arab world. Baron Erlanger is an important figure in modern Tunisian music. He collected the rules and history of the malouf, which filled six volumes, and founded a rachidija , an important conservatory that is still in use today.
The population of Tunisia is now also drawn to foreign music, with Egyptian , Lebanese and Syrian music being particularly influential. Western music comes to the country in the form of rock , hip-hop , reggae, and jazz .
Tunisian cuisine reflects the Berber, Arab, Jewish, Turkish, French and Italian influences that the country has been exposed to throughout its history. The diet is based on cereals, especially wheat in the form of bread, pasta or semolina, olives and olive oil, various local vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, beans or carrots), mutton and beef as well as fish and seafood.
Tunisian cuisine differs from that of its Maghreb neighbors in the frequent use of tomatoes and peppers (hence the name red cuisine ) and the heat it owes to Harissa . In addition, unlike in other Arab countries, cheese and pasta have found their way into Tunisian food culture. Typical dishes are couscous or Tunisian tagine , the chickpeas court lablabi , merguez sausages, Schakschuka or the dessert Baklava .
Tunisians also traditionally have a relatively liberal attitude towards alcohol. There is therefore the fig brandy Boukha or Dattellikör Laghmi . Beer (Celtia) is also brewed and wine is made in Tunisia .
Tunisia has a rich artisanal heritage with many regional specialties. Crafts is also a major industry, with an estimated 300,000 people working. The pottery is particularly to Guellala spread while Nabeul famous for the production of faience is. The art of mosaic has spread in the country since the 2nd century, the world's most important collection of mosaics is in the National Museum of Bardo . The forging came with the refugees from Andalusia to Tunisia, today most are the blue window grids to MASHRABIYA remember famous. The carpet weaving was introduced by the Carthaginians in Tunisia, in the first half of the 19th century were again strong impetus from the Ottoman Empire. Today the center of carpet production is located in and around Kairouan . In 2004, 200,000 m² of wool and 16,500 m² of silk carpets were produced. The tendency is downward due to falling prices. Originally the Tunisian carpets were less than 40,000 knots per square meter; today it can have a fineness of up to 250,000 knots. The traditional costume of the country is called Jebba , on the feet you wear babushes , which are made of leather for men, silk or cotton for women with woven silver or gold threads and mostly with floral motifs. The jewelry is also famous, especially the silver jewelry of the Berbers in the south of the country, in which coins are often incorporated.
|date||German name||Local name||comment|
|January 1st||New Year||السنة الجديدة|
|January 14th||Revolution and Youth Day||عيد الثورة و الشباب||Anniversary of the 2011 revolution with the escape of former President Ben Ali|
|March, 20th||Independence day||عيد الإستقلال||Memorial Day on March 20, 1956|
|9th April||Day of the Martyrs||عيد الشهداء||Remembrance Day of the Shed Blood of the Martyrs on April 9, 1938|
|1st of May||Labor Day||عيد الشغل||International Labor Day|
|July 25th||day of the Republic||عيد الجمهورية||Commemoration of the Declaration of the Republic on July 25, 1957|
There are also several Islamic holidays , the date of which is based on the lunar calendar and therefore varies from year to year. These include the birthday of Muhammad , the festival of sacrifice , the festival of the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan and the Islamic New Year.
The most important and most popular sport in Tunisia is football, both in terms of the number of people who play it and in terms of reporting. This is followed by taekwondo , handball , volleyball, judo, karate, athletics and tennis. All other sports, such as cycling, are not very widespread, which is due to a lack of infrastructure, equipment and little media interest.
The Tunisian national soccer team has so far participated in five World Cups ( 1978 , 1998 , 2002 , 2006 and 2018 ), although they were eliminated in the preliminary round. At the African Cup of Nations Tunisia participated 13 times and won the title 2004 . In 1963 the Arab Cup in Lebanon was won. Major players are Zoubaier Baya , Hatem Trabelsi and Yassine Chikhaoui .
The Club Espérance Sportive de Tunis is the most successful Tunisian club, be it at national or international level with 27 championship titles and 15 cup wins , as well as 2 CAF Champions League triumphs (1994 & 2011). Club Athlétique Bizertin won its first African title as a Tunisian team in 1988 when it won the Africa Cup of Cup winners (Coupe d'Afrique des clubs vainqueurs de coupes). The club Club Africain , however, was the first Tunisian representative who in 1991 won the CAF Champions League. Étoile Sportive du Sahel achieved this success as the first Tunisian representative after the reorganization of this competition on November 9th, 2007. In addition, the Club Sportif Sfaxien has been able to record numerous successes in regional and continental competitions. The most important football event is the capital derby between Club Africain and Espérance Sportive de Tunis. Held twice a year, it attracts more than 60,000 spectators each time.
The most important championships that are played in Tunisia are the Tunisian football , handball , volleyball and basketball championships . Cups are played in soccer , handball , volleyball and basketball . There is also a Tunisian cycling championship and, irregularly, the Tour de Tunisie . International championships have also been held in Tunisia, such as the first edition of the Junior World Cup in 1977. The African Football Championship was hosted in Tunisia in 1965 , 1994 and 2004 . In addition, the 2005 men's handball world championship was held in Tunisia.
In May 2007, 1673 sports clubs were registered in Tunisia, of which 250 were football, 206 taekwondo, 166 karate, 140 disabled sports, 85 handball, 80 athletics, 66 judo, 60 kung fu, 59 kickboxing, 48 basketball -, 47 pétanque , 45 table tennis, 40 volleyball, 37 boxing, 31 swimming and 30 tennis clubs.
In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Tunisia was ranked 97th out of 180 countries.
There are two public television channels in Tunisia called Télévision Tunisienne 1 and Télévision Tunisienne 2 . Private television has only been around since February 2005, when Hannibal TV began operations. Nessma TV has also been broadcasting since 2007 . The government operates four national radio stations, namely Radio Tunis , Radio Tunisie Culture , Radio Jeunes and RTCI, as well as five local stations (Gafsa, El Kef, Monastir, Sfax, Tataouine). Private radio has existed since November 2003, and there are currently three stations, namely Mosaïque FM in Tunis , Jawhara FM in Sousse and Zitouna FM . Zitouna FM is largely devoted to religious content. Most of the programs on all of these stations are broadcast in Arabic, with a smaller proportion in French. In addition, there is the government-critical, private broadcaster without a broadcasting license, Radio Kalima , whose program is broadcast on the Hot Bird satellite and as a live stream over the Internet.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are guaranteed by the constitution; in practice, however, until the revolution in Tunisia in 2010/2011, the media took over the line of government that was disseminated via the state news agency TAP and reported uncritically on the work of the president , the government and the ruling party RCD . Until then, there was censorship in Tunisia , and the government also influenced media coverage by awarding subsidies.
The health system spent 2% of GDP or 8% of public expenditure in 2008. It is relatively well developed with 968 people per doctor, more than 90% of the population are covered by social security , and life expectancy is 76 years (men: 74 years, women: 78 years), and has increased enormously in the last few decades. Thanks to several government family planning programs, population growth is only 1%. The HIV - prevalence in 2006 was 0.11% of the population. The infant mortality rate is 11 per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality at 43 per 100,000 births (state 2017).
Development of life expectancy
|period||Life expectancy in
|period||Life expectancy in
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