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TUNISIA
 

General

The republic of Tunisia (officially: al-Djoemhoerijja at-Toenisijja) is located in the center of North Africa and is the smallest state of the so-called Maghreb. The Maghreb consists of the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia. Tunisia borders Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast and has a natural border, the Mediterranean Sea, to the north and east. The natural border in the south is the Sahara.

Tunisia: Satellite photo Photo:Public Domain

Landscape

Tunisia has a very varied landscape. The coastal strip in the north and east of the country is about 1200 km long with beautiful sandy beaches. The east coast also has many bays, including the Gulf of Tunis. Off the coast are several islands, the largest and most famous of which is Djerba. The mountains in the west and northwest continue to Cap Bon in the far northeast. The western and central mountainous region, varying in height from about 500 to 1500 m, slopes gradually from west to east. This Tunisian mountain country, with the highest mountain ridge Dorsale in the mid-west, is a continuation of the mountain country of Algeria. The highest peak is the Djebel Chambi with 1544 meters.

Djebel Chambi, Tunisia's highest mountainPhoto:Tunesien2013 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The coastal plain south of the mountain ranges is undulating and fertile. Millions of palm trees grow here. The grass steppe area to the west of this is barren. Furthermore, we find here salt lakes and river beds that are dry almost all year round. In the south, the Sahara starts with stone deserts, salt lakes and palm oases. Extensive sand dunes in the far south. The only river in Tunisia that has water all year round is the Mejerda, which flows into the Gulf of Tunis.

Local differences in the climate of Tunisia occur due to the influence of the Mediterranean Sea and its location in relation to the mountains and the Sahara. Under the influence of the Mediterranean Sea, the east coast and the northern part of Tunisia have a subtropical climate with mild winters and warm dry summers. Most precipitation falls north of the mountain ranges, averaging more than 400 mm per year with maxima along the coast of 700 to 1200 mm per year.

Climate TunisiaPhoto:Beck, H.E., Zimmermann, N. E., McVicar, T. R., Vergopolan, N., Berg, A., & Wood, E. F. CC Attribution 4.0 International no changes made

The interior has a steppe climate and the extreme south a desert climate. South of the mountain ranges, the transition to a drier climate begins with precipitation maximums of 300 mm and further south of 100 to 150 mm per year. South Tunisia receives less than 100 mm of rainfall per year. Precipitation mainly falls in the period from October to February. Northern Tunisia is considerably less warm than Southern Tunisia. In the hottest month, July, the Tunis-Bizerte region has an average temperature of 25.9°C; the much more southerly situated Tozeur has an average temperature of 32.3°C. The Tunis-Bizerte area has an average temperature of 11°C in the coldest month, January; the mountainous region of the High Tell 5.9 °C. Snow occasionally falls in the northwestern highlands. Temperatures of 50°C are measured in the center and south of the country. The sandstormed sirocco, a dry, hot southwest wind from the Sahara, blows regularly. Staying indoors is the watchword !

Plants

Forest of Ain Drahem, TunisiaPhoto:IssamBarhoumi CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Before our era, Tunisia was largely covered with forests. Due to logging, pasturage and arable farming, only about 7% of Tunisia is now covered with trees. Reforestation started in the 1950s and the aim is to replant 2,000,000 ha. Plant growth in a country like Tunisia is of course strongly determined by the amount of rainfall that falls. In the north there are still forests of cork oaks, Aleppo pine, cypress and eucalyptus.

Palm tree in Tozeur, TunisiaPhoto:Wouterstomp Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Deciduous trees such as elm, poplar and ash are found in the northern valleys. Olives, figs and almonds are grown in fertile areas. On the steppes tough grasses such as alpha grasses grow, as well as acacia, cacti and thorn bushes. The date palm predominates in the south and in the oases. Colorful scenes yield the oleander, jasmine, bougainvillea and mimosa.

Animals

Fennec Fox, TunisiaPhoto:ladypine Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The animal world partly has a Mediterranean character and partly ties in with the animal world of the Sahara desert. Foxes and wild boars live in the forests of Tunisia. The desert is home to snakes, gerbils, the desert fox or fennec fox, desert jumping mice and many small reptiles such as lizards. Protected animals include the water buffalo, the monk seal, the porcupine and the Atlas deer. Hartbeest, lion, panther and cheetah have long since become extinct or have recently disappeared in Tunisia. The magot is a species of macaque limited to the mountains of northwest Africa and Gibraltar.

Falcon, TunisiaPhoto:Oussama dzlion Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Birds of prey that are common are falcons, eagles, sparrowhawks and buzzards. Tunisia is a popular country for migratory birds that hibernate there or see it as a resting place to the south of Africa. Off the north coast, different species of groupers, sea wolf, sea bream and wrasse live in the sea.

Prehistory and Antiquity

Tens of thousands of years ago, Tunisia looked very different from today. It had a humid climate with lots of forests and other vegetation. The residents traveled in small groups and lived off hunting and fishing. However, the climate became drier and people moved from the south to the north. Frescoes on rock walls are a reminder of this time. From 5000 to 6000 BC. people started keeping animals and growing crops. The itinerant existence was exchanged for a permanent place of residence. About 1100 BC. the Phoenicians were a powerful seafaring people who founded many settlements along the African coast. In 814 BC. Carthage was founded, which would quickly develop into a political and military superpower and also develop into a thriving commercial center.

Remains of the city of Carthage, TunisiaPhoto:Calips Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Carthage came from the third century BC. in conflict with Rome, among other things because of its strategic location. Of course of vital importance for a colonizing people like the Romans. This conflict resulted in the three Punic wars between Carthage and the Romans. Legendary is General Hannibal who threatened the Romans on their own territory and with a huge army of elephants through France and across the Alps to Rome. Ultimately, however, the Carthaginians were defeated and the city of Carthage was completely destroyed. After its demise it belonged to the Roman province of Africa, where many Roman settlers settled. Curiously, it was not until 1985, more than 2000 years later, that peace was made between Rome and Carthage. Christianity spread from the Middle East in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. about the Roman Empire. In the 5th and 6th centuries Carthage belonged to the realm of the Vandals. These Germanic tribes led by the famous Geiserik invaded North Africa from Spain. From North Africa they undertook raids to countries and islands around the Mediterranean. The Vandals were again expelled by the Byzantines in 543, after which Carthage entered a new period of prosperity.

Arab period

After the death of Mohammed in 632, the Arabs conquered North Africa in a relatively short time. It was not until 698 that the Byzantines were expelled and Tunisia was conquered by the Arabs. A very drastic event because the population switched to Islam from the seventh century and took over the Arabic language and culture in the centuries that followed. In 800 Ibrahim ibn al-Achlab was appointed governor and founded the first indigenous Tunisian dynasty, that of the Aghlabids, which ruled Tunisia for over a century. In 909 the Fatimid dynasty followed.

Great Mosque of Kairouan from the Arab period, TunisiaPhoto:Agnes Komjathy Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

They eventually wanted to conquer Morocco and Egypt as well as Tunisia. Egypt was indeed conquered in 969 and a Berber governor was appointed for Tunisia, who in turn became independent and founder of the Zirid dynasty. Around 1050 it came to an open break with Egypt and the ensuing struggle led to anarchy. Roger II of Sicily took advantage of this to occupy the coastal strip in 1148. In 1159, the Almohads of Morocco conquered Tunisia and made Tunis its capital. Abd al-Wahid became the governor in 1207, who broke away from Morocco in 1228 and founded the Hafsid dynasty. Under the Hafsids, Tunisia underwent three centuries of prosperity and cultural prosperity.

Although under constant threat from other Mediterranean powers, Tunisia remained independent as a result of conflict between those states. In 1534, Tunis was occupied by the pirate Barbarossa, after recognizing Turkish sovereignty. However, this was short-lived and in 1535 Charles V restored the Hafsids under Spanish rule.

Turkish Period

Map of Tunis around 1500Photo:Public domain

The Ottomans recaptured Tunisia in 1574, partly because the Spaniards were already at war with the Netherlands. Tunisia became virtually independent under Turkish supremacy. The country officially became an Ottoman province, headed by a pasha appointed by the sultan. One of the officers of the beis took over power in 1591. This was followed by a reign of regents, the deis, and the balance of power shifted again. The bei, whose job was to collect and administer taxes, became the real ruler in the state. Ibrahim al-Sharif finally took the titles bei, dei and pasha in 1702. However, as early as 1705 he was succeeded by Hussein ben Ali Turki. Hussein became the founder of the Hussein dynasty. Tunisia became more prosperous under the Husseinians. Besides the age-old piracy, agriculture and trade also generated a lot of money.

At the beginning of the 19th century, European countries demanded the suppression of piracy and the abolition of slavery. This naturally cost Tunisia a lot of money and great poverty was the result. The conquest of Algiers by France (1830) had major consequences for Tunisia. Attempts to modernize Tunisia failed and cost a great deal of money. Increasing taxes was often the cause of popular uprisings. Mohammed al-Sadik gave Tunisia a constitution pre-approved by Napoleon III in 1861.

French Period

Medina of Tunis, 1899Photo:Public domain

In April 1881, French troops from Algeria invaded Tunisia following a border incident between the two countries. They forced Mohammed al-Sadik to accept the Treaty of Kasser Sa'id, which stipulated that he would theoretically remain ruler of Tunisia. In 1883, Ali IV was forced to sign the Treaty of Mersa, officially declaring Tunisia a French protectorate. Encouraged by large-scale donations of land, many French settlers moved to the country. In 1920 the Destour movement was founded with the aim of establishing a constitutional regime with self-government for the Tunisians. Disagreements between the Destour and the French led to riots and demonstrations, after which the Destour was banned in 1925. In the early 1930s, the Destour re-emerged, but it was soon divided into a moderate and a radical group.

The radical group split off in 1934 under the leadership of Habib Bourguiba and formed a new party, the New Destour party. His supporters called for extensive political resistance to French rule. Bourguiba is arrested and exiled to the south of Tunisia. He was released in 1936 and immediately organized strikes and mass demonstrations. In 1938 clashes between the Tunisian nationalists and the French reached a peak, martial law was declared and the leaders of the Neo-Destour were arrested and deported to France. During the Second World War, Tunisia was temporarily under the rule of Vichy. The Germans were chased by the British towards Tunisia in 1942 and on May 7, 1943, the victory over the Germans could be celebrated.

Habib Bourguiba delivers a speech in Bizerte, TunisiaPhoto:Public domean

In 1949 Bourguiba returned and in April 1950 the Néo-Destour made new proposals to the French. At the heart of this was that the handover of sovereignty and executive power should be given to the Tunisians. Political reform soon came to a halt, and major demonstrations and strikes were held in 1952. Bourguiba and several other leaders of the Néo-Destour were imprisoned again, while the French appointed a military administration later in the year. In July 1954, the French made new proposals to establish internal self-government for Tunisia. On June 2, 1955, a final agreement was reached, which regulated internal autonomy for Tunisia. Néo-Destour members stuck to the ultimate goal, a completely independent Tunisia. A smaller group led by Salah ben Youssef was vehemently against this and tried to prevent its implementation, including by acts of terrorism against both the French and the members of the Néo-Destour who were in favor of the agreement. In 1955, Salah ben Youssef and his supporters were expelled from the party and Bourguiba re-elected chairman of the party.

Independence

Tunis on Independence Day 1956

Photo:Public domain

On March 20, 1956, Tunisia's independence was recognized by France. In the months that followed, elections were held, the monarchy abolished and Bourguiba was elected president of the Tunisian republic. However, French troops were still in the country. After a French bombardment of a Tunisian-Algerian border village in February 1958, Tunisia severed relations with France and demanded the complete withdrawal of the French troops. In 1961, Bourguiba again demanded complete withdrawal and claimed an Algerian part of the Sahara. As a result of fighting around these areas, Tunisia reached out to other Arab states and the Eastern bloc.

After the war in Algeria, negotiations in 1963 resulted in the withdrawal of all French troops and the return of territory from French colonists. Further nationalization of the lands of French colonists resulted in France ceasing its aid. Through far-reaching land reforms and socialist experiments, Bourguiba tightened its grip on the party and the country. In 1975 he was elected president for life. He wanted to end the Arab-Israeli conflict through dialogue, but that led to the removal of the Arab states. Tunisia's participation in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 with a small army brought some improvement in these relations. In the second half of the 1970s, students and the union opposed government policy.

In 1977 army units fired on strikers and protesters and while the strikers' demands were met in a number of cases, Prime Minister Nouira continued to advocate a crackdown. Ministers were fired and the top of the union was thrown in jail. In the parliamentary elections of November 1981, more parties were admitted for the first time, but none reached the 5% electoral threshold.

Islamic fundamentalism

Ben Ali, TunisiaPhoto:Presidencia de la Nación Argentin CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the 1980s an Islamic fundamentalist movement emerged. The government took tough action against this. The Muslim fundamentalists were involved, among other things, in disturbances at universities and in the great bread riot of January 1984. President Bourguiba then fired Prime Minister Mzali. On November 7, General Ben Ali, appointed Prime Minister in October 1987, had the elderly Bourguiba declared unfit to hold the presidency any longer and took power himself. In foreign policy, Tunisia focused more on the Arab world. For example, the PLO established its headquarters in Tunis in 1982.

During the Second Gulf War, Tunisia took a neutral stance. In the presidential elections in March 1994, President Ben Ali was re-elected by a large majority and in the parliamentary elections the Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique (RCD) won almost all votes. The state of affairs with regard to the elections and human rights was widely criticized from home and abroad. President Ben Ali took a very hard line against Islamic fundamentalism, which resulted in the arrest of many fundamentalists. In January 1996, Arab Foreign Ministers met in Tunis to discuss a joint strategy against terrorism.

21st century

In the presidential election in October 2004, Ben Ali received 99.4% of the vote. A constitutional amendment paved the way for Ben Ali's fourth term in office. In recent years, 2005-2008, there has been turmoil between the government and the Islamists. In January 2007 there is a battle between Islamist militants and security forces. In February 2009, a French court condemned Islamists for bombing the Djerba Island synagogue. President Ben Ali wins his fifth term as president in October 2009.

Beji Caid Essebsi, President of TunisiaPhoto:Magharebia Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

On January 14, 2011, President Ben Ali flees to Saudi Arabia after days of unrest and brutal police crackdown. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has been appointed interim president. On December 12, 2011, Moncef Marzouki was elected interim president of the Tunisian Republic. In October 2013, the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party agreed to a national unity government to prepare for the 2014 elections. On January 29, 2014, Mehdi Jooma will become head of the interim government. In May 2014, parliament passed the new electoral law to pave the way for presidential elections at the end of 2014. Beji Caid Essebsi was elected president in December 2014. In 2015 there were attacks by Islamic State against mainly tourist targets, such as the Bardo museum in Tunis and the coast at Sousse. October 2015, four Tunisian organizations receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to the transition to democracy.

Kais Saied, President of TunisiaPhoto:Υπουργε?ο Εξωτερικ?ν CCAttribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

In April 2017, a diplomatic row with Morocco and Algeria arose over a group of Syrian refugees. In the second half of 2017 there are many protests and in December 2017 Mehdi Johma becomes prime minister in consultation with the opposition. Kais Saied has been president with an anti-corruption agenda since October 2019. In September 2020, Hichem Mechichi will become prime minister of a technocratic cabinet that aims to get public finances in order.

The population of Tunisia was 11,403,800 in 2017. The population density is very variable. The population density is greatest around Tunis and the slightly more southerly Sousse. In the south, on the other hand, very few people live per km2.

Students of TunisiaPhoto:Magharebia Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the coastal areas, the descendants of the Phoenicians, Romans, Normans, Andalusians and Turks live, who have completely mixed with the Arabs and Berbers. The Berbers, about 1% of the population, live in a few small communities in the mountains and on the island of Djerba. Until 1956, the year of independence, nomads or Bedouins lived in the south who lived from livestock farming. In the 1980s there were only about 1,000 left. The rest are now farmers or work in the tourist industry. Jews have always lived in large numbers in Tunisia. Few of them are left, about 2000, and most of them live on the island of Djerba. Also, of the many tens of thousands of Europeans who lived in Tunisia until 1956, very few remain. 69% of the population lives in the cities (2017). The young Tunisians in particular are moving to the cities in large numbers, causing the countryside to age seriously. Major cities in Tunisia are Tunis (2.3 million inhabitants), Kairouan and Sousse.

The average life expectancy is 75.7 years, men 74.1 and women 77.4 years. (2017)

Inscription in French and Arabic medical faculty TunisiaPhoto:Aymen Fersi Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The official language is Arabic, the spoken form of which is very different from the written language. The colloquial language in Tunisia is an Arabic dialect that may vary slightly depending on the region. Classical Arabic script is written from right to left and only consonants and long vowels are written. French is still widely used in administration and commerce and by the older generation. The younger generation feels more at home with Classical Arabic. Moreover, it is the language of higher education. Many words are derived from Turkish, a result of 250 years of Ottoman influence. Berber has almost completely disappeared and is mixed with Arabic.

Some pronunciation rules of Arabic:

- all letters are spoken

-a "means that a letter is pronounced very briefly

-the r is a rolling r

-the y is pronounced sj

-sh is pronounced sj

-the gh is pronounced like a brew-r or French r

-the kh is pronounced a hard g

-the ou is pronounced oe

Tunisian ArabicPhoto:Nguyenhuunhien Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

There is no fixed spelling for Arabic words. The names are written as they are pronounced. Aqaba can therefore be spelled just as well as Aqaba.

The Arabic script is written from right to left and consists of 28 consonants. Vowels are not written and this creates different Latin spellings for one and the same word. Arabic numerals are written from left to right.

Some words and phrases:

EnglishArabic
Onewahed, vrouwelijk: wahda
Twoetnen
threetalata
Ten‘ashra
Hunredmeyya
thousand‘alf
Sundayyom el had
Wednesdayyom el ’arba’
Yes‘aywa
Nola’
Summersef
Wintersheta
Where is the hotel?fen el fondok?
What time is it?essa’a kam?
What is your name?‘esm-ak ‘ak? (man)
What is your name?‘esm-ek ‘eh? (vrouw)
HDo yoy have change?‘andokom fakka?

Zitouna mosque in TunisPhoto:Citizen59 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The official religion is Islam. About 98% of the population is Muslim, predominantly of the Sunni direction. Government interference is great, as the constitution states that the president must be a Muslim. The constitution does, however, guarantee that other religions can be freely professed on the condition that there is no danger to national security. The government facilitates mosques and pays for the imans.

The number of Christians (Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Protestants) is about 2%. The Jewish community has an estimated 2,000 souls (mainly on Djerba).

Staye structure

Tunisia parliament buildingPhoto:Yamen Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

According to the 1959 constitution, the head of the republic is the president, who is elected by universal suffrage for five years. He can stand for re-election twice and must be at least 40 years old. He is Chief of the Executive and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. He is assisted by a council of ministers headed by a prime minister. Legislative power rests with the National Assembly, whose 163 members are elected by universal suffrage for five years. Everyone over twenty years of age has the right to vote. The president has a right of veto over the National Assembly. However, a veto by the president can again be overruled with a two-thirds majority.

Tunisia is a member of the United Nations and several UN agencies, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Arab League, the Islamic Conference Organization and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU). The country is associated with the EU. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Administrative division

Administrative division of Tunisia\

Photo:TUBS Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Tunisia is administratively divided into 23 gouvernorats (vilajat), headed by a wali (governor). They are again subdivided into delegations (Moetamaddijjat), which are subdivided into municipalities. The city council elects the mayor.

Education

University of TunisPhoto:Public domain

Until independence in 1956, only 10 percent of Tunisian children were in education. Under President Bourguiba, education was given high priority and many primary and secondary schools were built. Many teachers were also trained. In the mid-1980s, about 95% of the children went to school. Pprimary school lasts six years. However, the number of teaching hours is only about 850. People are now considering extending primary school time by two years. French is taught from the third grade of primary school. The secondary school has six classes and a preparatory year for university study. One can also opt for a three-year course that trains for all kinds of professions and crafts. English and German are optional subjects and Quran is taught a few hours a week.

General

Until independence in 1956, agriculture was the basis of the economy. Thanks to many five and ten year plans, tourism and oil extraction are currently the basis of the Tunisian economy.

Tunisian coinsPhoto:Kim S Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Donations from Tunisians living abroad also strengthen the economy. Tunisia has a free market economy in which the government plays a major role through legislation, regulating and promoting investment, attracting foreign funds and setting up employment programs. Although Tunisia is not one of the poorest countries, its economy has all the characteristics of a developing country: heavy dependence on the export of raw materials, tourism and the remittance of money from Tunisians working abroad, while high-quality industrial products have to be imported. After the Arab Spring in 2011, tourism is in decline and the economy is having a hard time. The government of Tunisia is facing major challenges, reducing high unemployment and reducing economic disparities between the more developed coastal area and the impoverished interior are priorities.

Economic growth was 2% in 2017. The GDP per capita was $ 11,900 (2017).

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing

About 14.8% of the labor force is employed in agriculture. The sector contributes 10.1% to GDP. About 55% of the land has been cultivated and major irrigation projects are underway. Agriculture has major problems with rural depopulation, an outdated tenancy system, soil erosion and overgrazing. The main agricultural areas are in the valleys of the mountains in the north (cereals); there is also a lot of horticulture in the northeast. They grow fruit, vegetables and citrus fruits there. Viticulture is concentrated on Cap Bon and the yield is approximately 150 million liters. About 14.8% of the labor force is employed in agriculture. The sector contributes 10.1% to GDP. About 55% of the land has been cultivated and major irrigation projects are underway. Agriculture has major problems with rural depopulation, an outdated tenancy system, soil erosion and overgrazing. The main agricultural areas are in the valleys of the mountains in the north (cereals); there is also a lot of horticulture in the northeast. They grow fruit, vegetables and citrus fruits there. Viticulture is concentrated on Cap Bon and the yield is approximately 150 million liters. In the Tunisian Sahel and South Tunisia, olives and dates are the main sources of income.

Hay harvest TunisiaPhoto:Denis Jarvis Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

A small part of Tunisian agricultural land is artificially irrigated, while the vast majority depends on uneven rainfall. Livestock farming cannot meet the domestic demand for meat and milk. The government is stimulating livestock farming to be less dependent on foreign countries. Sheep are kept on the steppes of Central and South Tunisia and cows are kept in the north. There are still many small farmers who only produce for their own use. While the poultry sector is growing enormously, fishing has been stagnant for years. The government, which has a fishing monopoly in the coastal lagoons and some inland lakes, promotes inshore and distant fishing by building a modern fishing fleet. Fish catch is currently insufficient to meet domestic demand and a lot of fish must therefore be imported.

Mining and Industry

Tunisia is very rich in mineral resources such as petroleum, natural gas, phosphate, iron ore, lead ore, zinc ore, fluorite, mercury and salt. The main oil fields are Bir Aouin, al-Borma and around the islets of Kerkena.

Industry TunisiaPhoto:Habib M’henni Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Oil and small natural gas reserves have been found in the Gulf of Gabès. The country must import fuel. About a third of the labor force is employed in industry, which makes a significant contribution (26.2% in 2017) to GDP. Industrial centers are Tunis, where the food and beverage industry predominates, Menzel Bourguiba-Bizerte with heavy industry (blast furnaces and petroleum refining, cement industry and textiles), Sousse with textile companies that produce a lot for Western European countries, Sfax with phosphate processing industry and Gabès with petrochemical and cement industry. In government policy, the emphasis is on attracting foreign investment, export orientation and decentralizing industry. The energy supply is highly dependent on petroleum imports. The policy is aimed at stimulating more private exploration and refining capacity.

Trade

Export TunisiaPhoto:R. Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, et.al CCAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The main exports are textiles and leather goods, petroleum and petroleum products, phosphate and chemical products. The main export countries are France, Italy and Germany. The total value of exports was $ 13.8 billion in 2017. The imports consist largely of textiles, machinery, grain and cars. Important import countries are mainly France, Italy, Germany, China and neighboring Algeria. The total value of imports amounted to $ 19.1 billion in 2017. Tunisia is struggling with a trade deficit and high external debt and is trying to cut that debt by spending cuts.

Tourist shop Sidi Bou Said, TunisiaPhoto:Hajotthu Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange. The tourist infrastructure along the coast has been considerably expanded and improved in the 1980s. In 1994 there were nearly 4 million foreign tourists, including from Arab countries. This sector also provides a lot of employment. More than 50% of the labor force works in the service sector.

Tunisia mainly receives development aid from the western industrial countries, such as the United States, Germany, Italy and France. People also receive money from international organizations. In the north of the country, the road network is in good condition and dense. Bus and taxi services provide passenger transport between the cities. The Société des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens provides rail traffic that connects the major cities. The Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation, a state-owned company, maintains shipping traffic with Europe and the Arab ports. The main seaports are Tunis, Bizerte, Sousse and Sfax. The national airline is Tunis Air. There are six international airports: Tunis-Carthage, Tunis-al Aouina, Monastir-Skanes, Djerba-Mellita, Tabarka and Tozeur-Nefta.

Carthage room in the Bardo museum in TunisPhoto:Alexandre Moreau Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Tunisia still has many monuments and art treasures from various cultural periods. Scattered across the country are about 250 historical complexes. The oldest art treasures are prehistorically decorated flints, bone beads, etc. from the time after 8000 BC, including in the national Bardo Museum in Tunis. The main museums in Tunis and Carthage include Punic jewelry and amulets. Tourists mainly visit Tunis for its old medina. This walled old town dates back to the 13th century. There are also some souks (oriental markets). The Punic ruin city of Kerkouane is famous.

Roman amphitheater of El Djem in TunisiaPhoto:Jerzystrzelecki Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

There are many remains from Roman times. Tunisia has the finest collection of Roman mosaics. Roman remains can be found in Dougga, Maktar (thermal baths and triumphal arch), and Carthage, where excavations from the Punic era can also be seen. The amphitheater of El Djem is famous. From the early Christian period there are, among other things, baptismal fonts, tomb mosaics and sarcophagi. Remains of early Christian basilicas can be found at Carthage (150 m long) and in Sbeitla. The oldest Arab city in Tunisia, Kairouan has monuments such as the 9th century Sidi Okba Mosque.

Fort on Djerba, TunisiaPhoto:Cezary p Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Other places with Arab monuments and typical Arab medinas include Tunis, Sousse and Bizerte. The Islamic monuments include mosques, medrese (colleges), palaces, kasbahs (citadels) and mausoleums. Also known are the ribats (monastic castles) of Monastir and Sousse from the 8th and 9th centuries. Late medieval fortresses mainly occur along the coast, including on the island of Djerba. Very common is the manufacture of all kinds of handicrafts, including carpets, ceramics, embroidery, cotton weaving, ironwork in gold, silver, copper, iron, leatherwork and traditional sculpture. Spectacular events include the falconry festival in El-Haouaria and equestrian games in Kairouan and the Sahara.

Chott el jerid TunisiaPhoto:Stefan Krasowski Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Cap Bon peninsula is somewhat reminiscent of southern Italy. Well-known seaside resorts are Bizerte and surroundings, the island of Djerba and Monastir. Gabès, Gafsa and Tozeur are starting points for desert tourism in South Tunisia. In the southern part of the interior you will find the famous oases of Tamerza and Nefta. The salt lake Chott el Jerid, which resembles an alien landscape, is also very worthwhile.

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Sources

Dominicus, J. / Tunesië
Gottmer

Ruland-Wachters, T. / Reishandboek Tunesië
Elmar

Tunesië
Standaard

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb