Facts

 

Tunisia  is a sovereign state in Northwest Africa, covering 165,000 square kilometres (64,000 square miles). Its northernmost point, Cape Angela, is the northernmost point on the African continent. It is bordered by Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Tunisia’s population was estimated to be just under 11.93 million in 2016. Tunisia’s name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on its northeast coast.

Geographically, Tunisia contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains, and the northern reaches of the Sahara desert. Much of the rest of the country’s land is fertile soil. Its 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) of coastline include the African conjunction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Basin and, by means of the Sicilian Strait and Sardinian Channel, feature the African mainland’s second and third nearest points to Europe after Gibraltar.

Tunisia is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic. It is considered to be the only full democracy in the Arab World. It has a high human development index. It has an association agreement with the European Union; is a member of La Francophonie, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Arab League, the OIC, the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77; and has obtained the status of major non-NATO ally of the United States. In addition, Tunisia is also a member state of the United Nations and a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Close relations with Europe – in particular with France and with Italy – have been forged through economic cooperation, privatisation and industrial modernization.

In ancient times, Tunisia was primarily inhabited by Berbers. Phoenician immigration began in the 12th century BC; these immigrants founded Carthage. A major mercantile power and a military rival of the Roman Republic, Carthage was defeated by the Romans in 146 BC. The Romans, who would occupy Tunisia for most of the next eight hundred years, introduced Christianity and left architectural legacies like the El Djem amphitheater. After several attempts starting in 647, the Muslims conquered the whole of Tunisia by 697, followed by the Ottoman Empire between 1534 and 1574. The Ottomans held sway for over three hundred years. The French colonization of Tunisia occurred in 1881. Tunisia gained independence with Habib Bourguiba and declared the Tunisian Republic in 1957. In 2011, the Tunisian Revolution resulted in the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, followed by parliamentary elections. The country voted for parliament again on 26 October 2014, and for President on 23 November 2014.

Population: 11,304,482

Area:  163,610 km2

Currency

 

Geography

Tunisia is situated on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nile Delta. It is bordered by Algeria on the west and southwest and Libya on the south east. It lies between latitudes 30° and 38°N, and longitudes 7° and 12°E. An abrupt southward turn of the Mediterranean coast in northern Tunisia gives the country two distinctive Mediterranean coasts, west-east in the north, and north-south in the east.

Though it is relatively small in size, Tunisia has great environmental diversity due to its north-south extent. Its east-west extent is limited. Differences in Tunisia, like the rest of the Maghreb, are largely north-south environmental differences defined by sharply decreasing rainfall southward from any point. The Dorsal, the eastern extension of the Atlas Mountains, runs across Tunisia in a northeasterly direction from the Algerian border in the west to the Cape Bon peninsula in the east. North of the Dorsal is the Tell, a region characterized by low, rolling hills and plains, again an extension of mountains to the west in Algeria. In the Khroumerie, the northwestern corner of the Tunisian Tell, elevations reach 1,050 metres (3,440 ft) and snow occurs in winter.

The Sahel, a broadening coastal plain along Tunisia’s eastern Mediterranean coast, is among the world’s premier areas of olive cultivation. Inland from the Sahel, between the Dorsal and a range of hills south of Gafsa, are the Steppes. Much of the southern region is semi-arid and desert.

Tunisia has a coastline 1,148 kilometres (713 mi) long. In maritime terms, the country claims a contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles (44.4 km; 27.6 mi), and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi).

Climate

Tunisia’s climate is Mediterranean in the north, with mild rainy winters and hot, dry summers. The south of the country is desert. The terrain in the north is mountainous, which, moving south, gives way to a hot, dry central plain. The south is semiarid, and merges into the Sahara. A series of salt lakes, known as chotts or shatts, lie in an east-west line at the northern edge of the Sahara, extending from the Gulf of Gabes into Algeria. The lowest point is Chott el Djerid at 17 metres (56 ft) below sea level and the highest is Jebel ech Chambi at 1,544 metres (5,066 ft).

Languages

Arabic is the official language, and Tunisian Arabic, known as Tounsi, is the national, vernacular variety of Arabic and is used by the public. There is also a small minority of speakers of Berber languages known collectively as Jebbali or Shelha.

French also plays a major role in Tunisian society, despite having no official status. It is widely used in education (e.g., as the language of instruction in the sciences in secondary school), the press, and business. In 2010, there were 6,639,000 French-speakers in Tunisia, or about 64% of the population. Italian is understood and spoken by a small part of the Tunisian population. Shop signs, menus and road signs in Tunisia are generally written in both Arabic and French.

Health

In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 3.37% of the country’s GDP. In 2009, there were 12.02 physicians and 33.12 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 74.60 years in 2010, or 72.60 years for males and 76.70 years for females. Infant mortality in 2004 was 25 per 1,000.

Transport

The country maintains 19,232 kilometres (11,950 mi) of roads, with three highways: the A1 from Tunis to Sfax (works ongoing for Sfax-Libya), A3 Tunis-Beja (works ongoing Beja – Boussalem, studies ongoing Boussalem – Algeria) and A4 Tunis – Bizerte. There are 29 airports in Tunisia, with Tunis Carthage International Airport and Djerba–Zarzis International Airport being the most important ones. A new airport, Enfidha – Hammamet International Airport opened in 2011. The airport is located north of Sousse at Enfidha and is to mainly serve the resorts of Hamammet and Port El Kantaoui, together with inland cities such as Kairouan. Five airlines are headquartered in Tunisia: Tunisair, Syphax airlines, Karthago Airlines, Nouvelair, and Tunisair Express. The railway network is operated by SNCFT and amounts to 2,135 kilometres (1,327 mi) in total. The Tunis area is served by a Light rail network named Metro Leger which is managed by Transtu.

 

 

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