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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Profile

Area: 162,155 sq km
Population: 10.48 million (2009)
Capital City: Tunis
People: Arab (98%), European (1%), Other 1%
Languages: Arabic and French
Religion(s): Muslim (99%), Other (1%)
Currency: 1 Tunisian dinar (TND) = 1000 millimes
Major political parties: The former ruling party Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique (RCD) has been banned. Since January 2011 more than a hundred political parties have been registered. The five leading Parties/lists in the Constituent Assembly elected in October 2011 are Ennahda, Congress for the Republic, Arihda Chabia, Ettakatol and the Progressive Democratic Party.
Government: Republic
Head of State: Interim President Monsef Marzouki
Prime Minister/Premier: Interim Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali
Foreign Minister: Interim Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem
Membership of international groups/organisations: Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA), Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT), African Development Bank (AfDB), Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), Arab League (AL), Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), African Union (AU), Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC - observer), Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Group of 77 at the United Nations (G-77), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Criminal Court (ICC), International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRM), International Development Association (IDA), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS), International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Maritime Satellite Organisation (Inmarsat), International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (Intelsat), International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), UN Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), Non Aligned Movement (NAM), Organisation of American States and the Community of Andean Nations (OAS - observer), Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE - partner), United Nations (UN), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), World Health Organisation (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), World Tourism Organisation (WtoO), World Trade Organisation (WtrO).

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ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$83.21 billion (2009)
GDP per head: US$3,328
Annual Growth: 3.0% (2009)
Inflation: 3.7% (2009)
Major Industries: Agriculture, mining (particularly phosphate for export, oil and gas for home use), tourism, textiles, footwear, food, beverages.
UK Exports to Tunisia: £ 153 million (2009)
UK Imports from Tunisia: £ 406 million (2009)
Major trading partners: Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Maghreb countries and UK.
Exchange rate: £1= 2.2 dinars (February 2011), $1= 1.4 dinars (February 2011)

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Tunisia (http://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/tunisia)

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HISTORY

Tunisia became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century and was a French protectorate from 1881 to 1956. Granted independence as a constitutional monarchy, it became a republic in 1957. Habib Bourguiba, who led the independence movement, became the first President. He was replaced in November 1987 by the then Prime Minister, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who remained in power until 14 January 2011 when he fled the country following a series of demonstrations demanding that he and the government stand down. In October 2011 elections were held to draw up a new Constitution and appoint a government.

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Tunisia has followed a moderate, non-aligned course in its international relations, playing an active role in supporting the Middle East Peace Process. Tunisian peacekeepers have participated in UN operations in Cambodia, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Kosovo.

Tunisia signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 1995, which entered into force in 1998. This was the first such accord between the EU and a Mediterranean partner. Under the agreement, Tunisia is gradually removing barriers to trade with the EU and continues to develop closer ties with the EU.

Tunisian Relations with the UK

Diplomatic Representation

We have full diplomatic relations with Tunisia. Tunisia is represented in London by His Excellency Mr Hatem Atallah. Our Ambassador to Tunis is His Excellency Mr Christopher O'Connor.

Aid

The UK has committed £110m over four years to support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa. This includes up to £40 million for political reform and up to £70 million to support economic reform. £1.15 million has so far been allocated for projects in Tunisia for the financial year 2011-12.We also contribute a significant proportion of the EU's development assistance.

Recent Visits

Inward
-- January 2012: Tunisian Minister for Vocational Training and Employment, Abdelwaheb Matar, visited London
-- July 2011: Tunisian Minister of Interior, Mr Habib Essid, visited London
-- March 2011: Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Mr Mehdi Houas, visited London
-- July 1010: Tunisian Minister of Communication, Mr Oussama Romdhani, visited London
-- September 2009: Tunisian Minister for Trade and Handicrafts, Mr Ridha Mosbah, visited London in
-- May 2008: Tunisian Minister for Development & International Co-operation, Mr Mohamed Jouini, visited the UK

Outward

-- May 2011: Alistair Burt , FCO Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, visited Tunisia
-- February 2011: William Hague, Foreign Secretary, was the first Foreign Minister to visit Tunisia after the revolution
-- November 2010: Alistair Burt , FCO Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, visited Tunisia
-- October 2010: Simon Fraser, FCO Permanent Under Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, visited Tunisia
-- May 2009: The Duke of York, Special Representative for Trade & Investment, visited Tunisia
-- February 2009: Bill Rammell, FCO Minister of State responsible for relations with North Africa, visited Tunisia to co-chair the first meeting of the UK-Tunisia bilateral forum.

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GEOGRAPHY

(34 00 N 9 00 E)

The Republic of Tunisia lies in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Algeria to the west and Libya to the south east.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT WITH THE UK

In 2009, the UK exports of goods to Tunisia totaled £153 million and the UK imports of goods from Tunisia totaled £406 million. When comparing January–May 2010 with the same period of 2009 we see a 48.9% increase in UK imports from Tunisia and a 39.4% increase in UK exports to Tunisia.

30 UK investors already operate in Tunisia, covering a wide span in different sectors (energy, electronics, textiles, ICT, healthcare, etc). They are taking advantage of Tunisia's key geographical location to make it their regional base.

Energy is undoubtedly the most promising sector. BG Tunisia is actually the largest UK and foreign investor in the country, with a total investment of $3 billion.. There are currently 22 UK companies working in this sector taking advantage of its rapid expansion.

Approximately 400,000 tourists from the UK visit Tunisia annually.

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POLITICS

The Head of State is a president, directly elected by universal adult suffrage. The president’s term of office is five years.

On 14 January 2011 President Ben Ali fled the country and an interim president took over. At the same time the government, which was dominated by Ben Ali’s RCD party, was disbanded and replaced by a National Unity Government. Elections to a “Constituent Assembly”, which will be responsible for drafting a new constitution, took place on 23 October 2011. A coalition government led by the Ennahda Party was sworn in on 24 December 2011.

Human Rights

The Ben Ali regime imposed severe restrictions on individual rights and liberties, notably freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of association. Since former president Ben Ali fled the country, steps have been taken to remove these restrictions. The Tunisian interim government pledged to make profound democratic reforms. They set up independent commissions to oversee political changes and to investigate human rights abuses by the former regime. They also acceded to several key international human rights instruments:

-- International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced disappearance

-- Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

-- Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture

-- Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The new coalition government has also committed to pursue human rights reforms.

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Last Updated: February 2012

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