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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 countrys 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.

Location - 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:


10,276,158 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 24% (male 1,270,208/female 1,191,619)
15-64 years: 69.2% (male 3,571,228/female 3,538,458)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 333,801/female 370,844) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 28.3 years
male: 27.7 years
female: 28.8 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

0.989% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

15.54 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

5.17 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.066 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.009 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.015 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 22.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.92 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.34 years
male: 73.6 years
female: 77.21 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.73 children born/woman (2007 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.)


noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian

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) (2007)

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 census)

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 Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


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 on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in 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 on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); 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 - 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 (official ruling party) [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI]; 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 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 2003-05. 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

$89.74 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$33.29 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

5.1% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$8,800 (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 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

Oil imports

NA bbl/day

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 28.9%, Italy 20.4%, Germany 8.6%, Spain 6.1%, Libya 4.9%, US 4% (2006)


$13.89 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports partners

France 24.9%, Italy 21.8%, Germany 9.4%, Spain 4.7% (2006)

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)

Exchange rates

Tunisian dinars per US dollar - 1.331 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004), 1.2885 (2003), 1.4217 (2002)

Communications - Tunisia:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

1.268 million (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

7.339 million (2006)

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; 2 international gateway digital switches

Radio broadcast stations

AM 7, FM 20, shortwave 2 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

428 (2006)

Internet users

1.295 million (2006)

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) (2006)


total: 19,232 km
paved: 12,655 km (includes 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 Attunisia) (2007)

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 (2006)

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 percent of gdp

1.4% (2006)

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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