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Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881 and the creation of a protectorate. Agitation for independence in the decades following World War I was finally successful in getting the French to recognize Tunisia as an independent state in 1956. The country's first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. Street protests that began in Tunis in December 2010 over high unemployment, corruption, widespread poverty, and high food prices escalated in January 2011, culminating in rioting that... See More



 Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya

Geographic Coordinates:

 34 00 N, 9 00 E


 Total: 163,610 sq km
Land: 155,360 sq km
Water: 8,250 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly larger than Georgia

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 1,424 km
Border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km


 1,148 km (Rank: 78)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 12 nm


 Temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south


 Mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
Highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m

Natural Resources:

 Petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt

Land Use:

 Arable land: 17.05%
Permanent crops: 13.08%
Other: 69.87% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 4,450 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 4.6 cu km (2003)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
Per capita: 261 cu m/yr (2000)

Environment - Current Issues:

 Toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural freshwater resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

Signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

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 Noun: Tunisian(s)
Adjective: Tunisian

Ethnic Groups:

 Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%


 Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)


 Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%


 10,629,186 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,274,348/female 1,193,131)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,638,014/female 3,728,294)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 390,055/female 405,344) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 30 years
Male: 29.6 years
Female: 30.4 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.978% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 17.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 5.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 67% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 TUNIS (capital) 759,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 60 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 25.92 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 29.6 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 21.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 75.01 years
Male: 73 years
Female: 77.17 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.03 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 6.2% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital Bed Density:

 2.1 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 99% of population
Rural: 84% of population
Total: 94% of population
Urban: 1% of population
Rural: 16% of population
Total: 6% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 96% of population
Rural: 64% of population
Total: 85% of population
Urban: 4% of population
Rural: 36% of population
Total: 15% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 Less than 0.1% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 2,400 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 Fewer than 100 (2009 est.)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 3.3% (2006)

Education Expenditures:

 7.1% of GDP (2007)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 74.3%
Male: 83.4%
Female: 65.3% (2004 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 15 years
Male: 14 years
Female: 15 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 30.7%
Male: 31.4%
Female: 29.3% (2005)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
Conventional short form: Tunisia
Local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
Local short form: Tunis

Government Type:



 Name: Tunis
Geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E
Time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 24 governorates; Ariana (Aryanah), Beja (Bajah), Ben Arous (Bin 'Arus), Bizerte (Banzart), Gabes (Qabis), Gafsa (Qafsah), Jendouba (Jundubah), Kairouan (Al Qayrawan), Kasserine (Al Qasrayn), Kebili (Qibili), Kef (Al Kaf), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Manouba (Manubah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bou Zid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)


 20 March 1956 (from France)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 20 March (1956)


 1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002; note - the newly formed Constituent Assembly is charged with writing a new constitution

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system of civil law, based on the French civil code, and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 18 years of age; universal except for active government security forces (including the police and the military), people with mental disabilities, people who have served more than three months in prison (criminal cases only), and people given a suspended sentence of more than six months

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Moncef MARZOUKI (since 13 December 2011)

Head of government: Prime Minister Hamadi JEBALI (since 14 December 2011)

Cabinet: Prime Minister JEBALI was asked to form a new government on 14 December 2011

Elections: president elected by Constituent Assembly; election last held on 12 December 2011(next to be held NA); prime minister appointed by the president

Election results: President MARZOUKI elected by Constituent Assembly with 153 of 156 votes

Legislative Branch:


Elections: note - following the 2010-2011 political revolution in Tunisia, a 217-member "Constituent Assembly" was elected on 23 October 2011

Election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - al-Nahda 89, CPR 29, Popular Petition 26, FDTL 20, PDP 16, PDM 5, The Initiative 5, Afek Tounes 4, PCOT 3, other minor parties each with fewer than three seats 20

Judicial Branch:

 Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Afek Tounes [Emna MINF]; al-Nahda (The Renaissance) [Rachid GHANNOUCHI]; Congress Party for the Republic or CPR [Moncef MARZOUKI]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL (Ettakatol) [Mustapha Ben JAAFAR]; Democratic Modernist Pole or PDM (a coalition); Democratic Socialist Movement or MDS; Et-Tajdid Movement [Ahmed IBRAHIM]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mondher THABET]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Petition (Aridha Chaabia) [Hachemi HAMDI]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party or PDP [Maya JERIBI]; The Initiative [Kamel MORJANE] (formerly the Constitutional Democratic Rally or RCD); Tunisian Workers' Communist Party or PCOT [Hamma HAMMAMI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 18 October Group [collective leadership]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamed Salah TEKAYA
Chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon GRAY
Embassy: Zone Nord-Est des Berges du Lac Nord de Tunis 1053
Mailing address: use embassy street address
Telephone: [216] 71 107-000
FAX: [216] 71 963-263

Flag Description:

 Red with a white disk in the center bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star; resembles the Ottoman flag (red banner with white crescent and star) and recalls Tunisia's history as part of the Ottoman Empire; red represents the blood shed by martyrs in the struggle against oppression, white stands for peace; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam

Note: the flag is based on that of Turkey, itself a successor state to the Ottoman Empire

National Symbols:

 Encircled red star and crescent

National Anthem:

 Name: "Humat Al Hima" (Defenders of the Homeland)
Lyrics/music: Mustafa Sadik AL-RAFII and Aboul-Qacem ECHEBBI/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB

Note: adopted 1957, replaced 1958, restored 1987; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of the United Arab Emirates

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Economy - Overview:

 Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Progressive social policies also have helped raise living conditions in Tunisia relative to the region. Real growth, which averaged almost 5% over the past decade, declined to 4.6% in 2008 and to 3-4% in 2009-10 because of economic contraction and slowing of import demand in Europe - Tunisia's largest export market. However, development of non-textile manufacturing, a recovery in agricultural production, and strong growth in the services sector somewhat mitigated the economic effect of slowing exports. Tunisia will need to reach even higher growth levels to create sufficient employment opportunities for an already large number of unemployed as well as the growing population of university graduates. The challenges ahead include: privatizing industry, liberalizing the investment code to increase foreign investment, improving government efficiency, reducing the trade deficit, and reducing socioeconomic disparities in the impoverished south and west.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $100 billion (2010 est.)
$96.43 billion (2009 est.)
$93.54 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $44.29 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 3.7% (2010 est.)
3.1% (2009 est.)
4.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $9,400 (2010 est.)
$9,200 (2009 est.)
$9,000 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 10.6%
Industry: 34.6%
Services: 54.8% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 3.769 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 18.3%
Industry: 31.9%
Services: 49.8% (2009 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 13% (2010 est.)
13.3% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 3.8% (2005 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 2.3%
Highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 40 (2005 est.)
41.7 (1995 est.)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 26.9% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $10.29 billion
Expenditures: $12.15 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 23.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -4.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 48% of GDP (2010 est.)
46.7% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 4.4% (2010 est.)
3.5% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 5.75% (31 December 2010 est.)
NA% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 NA% (31 December 2010 est.)
7.305% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $10.07 billion (31 December 2009)
$9.917 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $16.55 billion (31 December 2009)
$14.72 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $11.44 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$11.29 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $28.11 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$27.56 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $31.03 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$29.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $10.68 billion (31 December 2010)
$9.12 billion (31 December 2009)
$6.374 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products


 Petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 7.7% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 14.4 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 99.5%
Hydro: 0.5%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 12.49 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 129 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 7 million kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - Production:

 83,720 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 84,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 91,200 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 78,460 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 425 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 3.6 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 4.85 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 1.25 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$973.4 million (2010 est.)
-$1.234 billion (2009 est.)


 $16.43 billion (2010 est.)
$14.42 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment

Exports - Partners:

 France 26.5%, Italy 17.4%, Germany 9.6%, Libya 6.2%, UK 5.6%, Spain 4.2% (2010)


 $21.01 billion (2010 est.)
$18.12 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - Partners:

 France 20.4%, Italy 20.2%, Germany 9.1%, Spain 5.2%, China 4.5% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $9.462 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$11.06 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $23.09 billion (30 June 2011 est.)
$21.47 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $285 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$233 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $31.41 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$31.86 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Tunisian Dinar to Any Currency

Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar -
1.4367 (2010)
1.3503 (2009)
1.211 (2008)
1.2776 (2007)
1.331 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 1.29 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 11.114 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; telephone network is completely digitized; Internet access available throughout the country

Domestic: in an effort to jumpstart expansion of the fixed-line network, the government has awarded a concession to build and operate a VSAT network with international connectivity; rural areas are served by wireless local loops; competition between the two mobile-cellular service providers has resulted in lower activation and usage charges and a strong surge in subscribership; a third mobile, fixed, and ISP operator was licensed in 2009 and will begin offering services in 2010; expansion of mobile-cellular services to include multimedia messaging and e-mail and Internet to mobile phone services also leading to a surge in subscribership; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 100 telephones per 100 persons

International: country code - 216; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable system that provides links to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; 2 international gateway digital switches

Broadcast Media:

 Broadcast media is mainly government-controlled; the state-run Tunisian Radio and Television Establishment (ERTT) operates 2 national television networks, several national radio networks, and a number of regional radio stations; 1 TV and 3 radio stations are privately-owned and report domestic news stories directly from the official Tunisian news agency; the state retains control of broadcast facilities and transmitters through L'Office National de la Telediffusion; Tunisians also have access to Egyptian, pan-Arab, and European satellite TV channels (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 7, FM 38, shortwave 2 (2007)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 490 (2010)

Internet Users:

 3.5 million (2009)

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 32 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 16
Over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
Under 914 m: 7 (2010)


 Gas 2,386 km; oil 1,323 km; refined products 453 km (2010)


 Total: 2,165 km
Standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 1,694 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified) (2010)


 Total: 19,232 km
Paved: 12,655 km (includes 262 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 6,577 km (2008)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 11
By type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 2, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 4, roll on/roll off 2
Registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Bizerte, Gabes, Rades, Sfax, Skhira

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Military Branches:

 Tunisian Armed Forces (Forces Armees Tunisiens, FAT): Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At'Tunisia) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 20 years of age for compulsory military service, 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 1-year conscript service obligation (2007)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,846,572
Females age 16-49: 2,952,180 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,397,716
Females age 16-49: 2,484,097 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 90,436
Female: 87,346 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.4% of GDP (2006)

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Trafficking in Persons:

 Current situation: Tunisia is a source, destination, and possible transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; young girls are forced into domestic servitude, some of whom are subsequently sexually and physically abused

Tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders, proactively identifying or protecting trafficking victims, or raising public awareness of human trafficking; the current government has established a National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons and is drafting comprehensive counter-trafficking legislation (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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