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Flag 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. 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
Geographic coordinates:
34 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references:
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
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 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:
3,940 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
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
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
People Tunisia
10,175,014 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.6% (male 1,293,235/female 1,212,994)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 3,504,283/female 3,478,268)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 327,521/female 358,713) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.8 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.3 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.99% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
15.52 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
5.13 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
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: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 23.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.12 years
male: 73.4 years
female: 76.96 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.74 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
1,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: may be a significant risk in some locations during the transmission season (typically April through November) (2005)
noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
Ethnic groups:
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 est.)
Government Tunisia
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)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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
Legal system:
based on French civil law system and Shari'a law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session
20 years of age; universal except for active duty military
Executive branch:
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 24 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a fourth term; percent of vote - Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 94.5%, Mohamed BOUCHIHA 3.8%, Mohamed Ali HALOUANI 1%
Legislative branch:
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 24 October 2004 (next to be held October 2009); Chamber of Advisors - last held 3 July 2005 (next to be held July 2011)
election results: Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RCD 152, MDS 14, PUP 11, UDU 7, Al-Tajdid 3, PSL 2; Chamber of Advisors - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RCD 71 (14 trade union seats vacant (boycotted))
Judicial branch:
Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders:
Al-Tajdid Movement [Ali HALOUANI]; Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique) or RCD [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (official ruling party)]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mounir BEJI]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party [Nejib CHEBBI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
18 October Group [collective leadership]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL [Mustapha Ben JAFAAR]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]; note - the Islamic fundamentalist party, Al Nahda (Renaissance), is outlawed
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Nejib HACHANA
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 designate 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] 71 107-090
Flag description:
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
Economy - overview:
Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, 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 slowed to a 15-year low of 1.9% in 2002 because of agricultural drought and lackluster tourism. Increased rain helped to push GDP growth to an average rate of 5% in 2003-06. However, a recession in agriculture, weak expansion in the tourism and textile sectors, and increasing import costs due to rising world energy prices cut growth to 4% in 2006. Tunisia is gradually removing barriers to trade with the EU. Broader privatization, further liberalization of the investment code to increase foreign investment, improvements in government efficiency, and reduction of the trade deficit are among the challenges ahead.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$87.88 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$32.95 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$8,600 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 12.8%
industry: 31%
services: 56.2% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
3.502 million
note: shortage of skilled labor (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 55%
industry: 23%
services: 22% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate:
13.9% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
7.4% (2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.8% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40 (2005 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.6% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
22.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $7.728 billion
expenditures: $8.734 billion; including capital expenditures of $1.6 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:
57.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
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:
4.7% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
11.81 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.5%
hydro: 0.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
10.97 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
15 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
5 million kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
81,530 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
89,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
1.7 billion bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
2.4 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
3.7 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
1.3 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
77.87 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$-760 million (2006 est.)
$11.61 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons
Exports - partners:
France 30.8%, Italy 21%, Germany 9.3%, Spain 5.5%, Libya 4.4% (2005)
$13.89 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
France 25.8%, Italy 23.1%, Germany 9.6%, Spain 5.6% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$6.646 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$18.37 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$328 million (2004)
Currency (code):
Tunisian dinar (TND)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Tunisian dinars per US dollar - 1.31281 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004), 1.2885 (2003), 1.4217 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Tunisia
Telephones - main lines in use:
1,257,500 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
5.681 million (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; Internet access available
domestic: trunk facilities consist of open-wire lines, coaxial cable, and microwave radio relay
international: country code - 216; 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; two international gateway digital switches
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 7, FM 20, shortwave 2 (1998)
2.06 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)
920,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
428 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
953,800 (2005)
Transportation Tunisia
30 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 14
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2006)
gas 2,945 km; oil 1,227 km; refined products 351 km (2006)
total: 2,153 km
standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,674 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified)
dual gauge: 8 km 1.435 m and 1.000-m gauges (three rails) (2005)
total: 19,232 km
paved: 12,655 km (including 262 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,577 km (2004)
Merchant marine:
total: 9 ships (1000 GRT or over) 146,759 GRT/115,118 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 1, chemical tanker 3, passenger/cargo 4 (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Bizerte, Gabes, La Goulette, Skhira
Military Tunisia
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At'tunisia) (2006)
Military service age and obligation:
20 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months; 18 years of age for voluntary military service (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 20-49: 2,441,741
females age 20-49: 2,406,362 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 20-49: 2,035,431
females age 20-49: 2,000,757 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 108,817
females age 20-49: 103,087 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$356 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.5% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Tunisia
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007