Africa :: Tunisia
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Tunisia
Location of Tunisia
 
Map of Tunisia
Introduction ::Tunisia
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. BEN ALI is currently serving his fourth consecutive five-year term as president; the next elections are scheduled for October 2009. Tunisia has long taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
Geography ::Tunisia
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
34 00 N, 9 00 E
total: 163,610 sq km
country comparison to the world: 92
land: 155,360 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
slightly larger than Georgia
total: 1,424 km
border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
1,148 km
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
lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
arable land: 17.05%
permanent crops: 13.08%
other: 69.87% (2005)
3,940 sq km (2003)
4.6 cu km (2003)
total: 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
per capita: 261 cu m/yr (2000)
NA
toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural fresh water resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
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
strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
People ::Tunisia
10,486,339 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
0-14 years: 22.7% (male 1,227,238/female 1,149,796)
15-64 years: 70.1% (male 3,701,661/female 3,652,322)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 352,003/female 403,319) (2009 est.)
total: 29.2 years
male: 28.7 years
female: 29.8 years (2009 est.)
0.98% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 127
15.42 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
5.2 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
-0.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
urban population: 67% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 22.57 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 98
male: 24.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 75.78 years
country comparison to the world: 72
male: 73.98 years
female: 77.7 years (2009 est.)
1.72 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
3,700 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.3%
male: 83.4%
female: 65.3% (2004 census)
total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
7.3% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 19
Government ::Tunisia
conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
conventional short form: Tunisia
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
local short form: Tunis
republic
name: Tunis
geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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)
Independence Day, 20 March (1956); also the anniversary of BEN ALI's assumption of the presidency, 7 November (1987)
1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002
based on French civil law system and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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
chief of state: President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since 17 November 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 25 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a fifth term; percent of vote - Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 89.6%, Mohamed BOUCHIHA 5%, Ahmed INOUBLI 3.8%, Ahmed BRAHIM 1.6%
bicameral system consists of the Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (189 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Advisors (126 seats; 85 members elected by municipal counselors, deputies, mayors, and professional associations and trade unions; 41 members are presidential appointees; members serve six-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Deputies - last held on 25 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014); Chamber of Advisors - last held on 3 July 2005 (next to be held in July 2011)
election results: Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA
Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Al-Tajdid Movement [Ahmed IBRAHIM]; Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique) or RCD (official ruling party) [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL [Mustapha Ben JAFAAR]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mondher THABET]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party [Maya JERIBI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]; note - the Islamist party, Al Nahda (Renaissance), is outlawed
18 October Group [collective leadership]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]
ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, BSEC (observer), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, OAPEC (suspended), OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador Habib MANSOUR
chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert F. GODEC
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
red with a white disk in the center bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam
Economy ::Tunisia
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 4.7% in 2008 and probably will decline further in 2009 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.
$81.71 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$78.27 billion (2007 est.)
$73.49 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$40.35 billion (2008 est.)
4.4% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
6.5% (2007 est.)
5.3% (2006 est.)
$7,900 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
$7,600 (2007 est.)
$7,200 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 10.5%
industry: 37%
services: 52.5% (2008 est.)
3.66 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
agriculture: 55%
industry: 23%
services: 22% (1995 est.)
14.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
14.1% (2007 est.)
7.4% (2005 est.)
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)
40 (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
41.7 (1995 est.)
21.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
revenues: $9.843 billion
expenditures: $11.3 billion (2008 est.)
48.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
59.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
3.1% (2007 est.)
$9.892 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
$9.491 billion (31 December 2007)
$14.72 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
$13.56 billion (31 December 2007)
$26.5 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
$25.23 billion (31 December 2007)
$6.374 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 86
$5.355 billion (31 December 2007)
$4.446 billion (31 December 2006)
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
2.7% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
13.79 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
11.9 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
130 million kWh (2007 est.)
145 million kWh (2007 est.)
86,930 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
90,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
77,130 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
87,300 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
425 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
2.97 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
4.22 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 101
1.25 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$-1.755 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
$-904 million (2007 est.)
$19.22 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$15.15 billion (2007 est.)
clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
France 28.4%, Italy 18%, Germany 9.6%, Libya 5.8%, Spain 5% (2008)
$23.23 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$18.02 billion (2007 est.)
textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
France 22.4%, Italy 20.1%, Germany 9.4%, Libya 4.8%, Spain 4.6% (2008)
$8.853 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
$7.854 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$20.81 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 72
$20.4 billion (31 December 2007)
$28.67 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$26.22 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$130 million (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
$118 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar - 1.211 (2008 est.), 1.2776 (2007), 1.331 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004)
Communications ::Tunisia
1.239 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 70
8.569 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
general assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; Internet access available
domestic: in an effort jumpstart expansion of the fixed-line network, the government has awarded a concession to build and operate a VSAT network with international connectivity; competition between the two mobile-cellular service providers has resulted in lower activation and usage charges and a strong surge in subscribership; 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 95 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
AM 7, FM 38, shortwave 2 (2007)
26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)
.tn
406 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 175
2.8 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 62
Transportation ::Tunisia
32 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 114
total: 16
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2009)
total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2009)
gas 2,102 km; oil 1,195 km; refined products 372 km (2008)
total: 2,159 km
country comparison to the world: 69
standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,688 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified) (2008)
total: 19,232 km
country comparison to the world: 112
paved: 12,655 km (includes 262 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,577 km (2004)
total: 7
country comparison to the world: 126
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Bizerte, Gabes, La Goulette, Rades, Sfax, Skhira
Military ::Tunisia
Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At'tunisia) (2008)
20 years of age for compulsory military service, 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 1-year conscript service obligation (2007)
males age 16-49: 2,992,249
females age 16-49: 2,912,819 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 2,569,403
females age 16-49: 2,489,651 (2009 est.)
male: 100,478
female: 94,055 (2009 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 114
Transnational Issues ::Tunisia
none