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 country’s 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.

 

In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. BEN ALI is currently serving his fourth consecutive five-year term as president; the next elections are scheduled for October 2009. 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.

 

Geography:
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E
People:
Population: 10,732,900 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,274,348/female 1,193,131)

15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,638,014/female 3,728,294)

65 years and over: 7.5% (male 390,055/female 405,344) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Tunisian Republic

conventional short form: Tunisia

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah

local short form: Tunis

Government type: republic
Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 1.29 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 11.114 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 29 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 15

over 3,047 m: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 6

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At’tunisia) (2012)
Military service age and obligation: 20-23 years of age for compulsory service, one year service obligation; 18-23 years of age for voluntary service; Tunisian nationality required (2007)

Economy:

Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, 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, which averaged almost 5% over the past decade, reached 6.3% in 2007 because of development in non-textile manufacturing, a recovery in agricultural production, and strong growth in the services sector.

 

However, Tunisia will need to reach even higher growth levels to create sufficient employment opportunities for an already large number of unemployed as well as the growing population of university graduates. 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.