|Ichkeul National Park A World Heritage Site|
|Background: Following independence from France in 1956,
President Habib BOURGIUBA 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
recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its
foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to diffuse rising pressure
for a more open political society.
Government type: republic
Currency: 1 Tunisian dinar (TND) = 1,000 millimes
Geography of Tunisia
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and
People of Tunisia
Modern Tunisians are the descendents of indigenous Berbers and of people from numerous civilizations that have invaded, migrated to and been assimilated into the population over the millenia. Recorded history in Tunisia begins with the arrival of Phoenicians, who founded Carthage and other North African settlements in the 8th century BC. Carthage became a major sea power, clashing with Rome for control of the Mediteranean until it was defeated and captured by the Romans in 146 B.C. The Romans ruled and settled in North Africa until the 5th century when the Roman Empire fell and Tunisia was invaded by European tribes, including the Vandals. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century transformed Tunisia's and the make-up of its population, with subsequent waves of migration from around the Arab and Ottoman world, including significant numbers of Spanish Moors and Jews at the end of the 15th century. Tunisia became a center of Arab culture and learning and was assimilated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was a French protectorate from 1881 until independence in 1956, and retains close political, economic, and cultural ties with France.
Nearly all Tunisians (98% of the population) are Muslim. There has been a Jewish population on the southern island of Djerba for 2000 years, and there remains a small Jewish population in Tunis which is descended from those who fled Spain in the late 15th century. There is no indigenous Christian population. Small nomadic indigenous minorities have been mostly assimilated into the larger population.
Population: 10,074,951 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Tunisia > Map Economy