Tunisia Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Tunisia > Map Economy

Ichkeul National Park A World Heritage Site

Facts About Tunisia

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
Capital: Tunis
Currency: 1 Tunisian dinar (TND) = 1,000 millimes

Geography of Tunisia

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E
Area:
total: 163,610 sq km
land: 155,360 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,424 km
border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
Coastline: 1,148 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south
Terrain: mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jabal ash Shanabi 1,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 13%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 4%
other: 44% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 3,850 sq km (1993 est.)
Environment - current issues: toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and presents human 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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, 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 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.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% 
15-64 years: 64% 
65 years and over: 6% 
Population growth rate: 1.17% 
Birth rate: 17.38 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.98 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -0.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 30.09 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.69 years
male: 72.14 years
female: 75.36 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.7%
male: 78.6%
female: 54.6% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Tunisia > Map Economy