Tunisia Geography - History

Tunisia Geography - History

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Tunisia is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya.

The terrain of Tunisia includes mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara.

Climate: Tunisia is temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south.

The Culture Of Tunisia

Medieval artistic doors reflect the traditions of Tunisia. Editorial credit: Lev Levin / Shutterstock.com.

Located in North Africa’s Maghreb region, Tunisia is a sovereign nation with a population of around 11,516,189 individuals. The country has a rich culture that reflects nearly 3,000 years of history. It is influenced by the cultures of ethnic groups that migrated to the nation from different parts of the globe.


Tunis is the transcription of the Arabic name تونس which can be pronounced as "Tūnus", "Tūnas", or "Tūnis". All three variations were mentioned by the Greek-Syrian geographer al-Rumi Yaqout in his Mu'jam al-Bûldan (Dictionary of Countries).

Different explanations exist for the origin of the name Tunis. Some scholars relate it to the Phoenician goddess Tanith ('Tanit or Tanut), as many ancient cities were named after patron deities. [2] [3] Some scholars claim that it originated from Tynes, which was mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Polybius in the course of descriptions of a location resembling present-day Al-Kasbah, Tunis's old Berber village. [4] [5]

Another possibility is that it was derived from the Berber verbal root ens which means "to lie down" or "to pass the night". [6] The term Tunis can possibly mean "camp at night", "camp", or "stop", or may have referred to as "the last stop before Carthage" by people who were journeying to Carthage by land. There are also some mentions in ancient Roman sources of such names of nearby towns as Tuniza (now El Kala), Thunusuda (now Sidi-Meskin), Thinissut (now Bir Bouregba), and Thunisa (now Ras Jebel). As all of these Berber villages were situated on Roman roads, they undoubtedly served as rest-stations or stops. [7]

Carthage Edit

The historical study of Carthage is problematic. Because its culture and records were destroyed by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, very few Carthaginian primary historical sources survive. While there are a few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in Northwest Africa, [8] the main sources are Greek and Roman historians, including Livy, Polybius, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and Herodotus. These writers belonged to peoples in competition, and often in conflict, with Carthage. [9] Greek cities contended with Carthage over Sicily, [10] and the Romans fought three wars against Carthage. [11] Not surprisingly, their accounts of Carthage are extremely hostile while there are a few Greek authors who took a favourable view, these works have been lost. [9]

Ruins of the Baths of Antoninus in Carthage

The Lady of Carthage mosaic, one of the major surviving pieces of Byzantine art in modern Tunisia

Early history Edit

Tunis was originally a Berber settlement. [12] The existence of the town is attested by sources dating from the 4th century BC. [13] Situated on a hill, Tunis served as an excellent point from which the comings and goings of naval and caravan traffic to and from Carthage could be observed. Tunis was one of the first towns in the region to fall under Carthaginian control, and in the centuries that followed Tunis was mentioned in the military histories associated with Carthage. Thus, during Agathocles' expedition, which landed at Cape Bon in 310 BC, Tunis changed hands on various occasions. [ citation needed ]

During the Mercenary War, it is possible that Tunis served as a center for the native population of the area, [13] and that its population was mainly composed of peasants, fishermen, and craftsmen. Compared to the ancient ruins of Carthage, the ruins of ancient Tunis are not as large. According to Strabo, it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC during the Third Punic War. Both Tunis and Carthage were destroyed Tunis, however, was rebuilt first [14] under the rule of Augustus and became an important town under Roman control and the center of a booming agricultural industry. The city is mentioned in the Tabula Peutingeriana as Thuni. [14] In the system of Roman roads for the Roman province of Africa, Tunis had the title of mutatio ("way station, resting place"). [14] Tunis, increasingly Romanized, was also eventually Christianized and became the seat of a bishop. However, Tunis remained modestly sized compared to Carthage during this time. [15]

Early Islamic period Edit

When the Arab Muslim troops conquered the region at the end of the 7th century, they established themselves at the outskirts of ancient Tunes, and the small town soon became the city of Tunis that could easily be taken for an Arab foundation. [16] The medina of Tunis, the oldest section of the city, dates from this period, during which the region was conquered by the Umayyad emir Hasan ibn al-Nu'man al-Ghasani. The city had the natural advantage of coastal access, via the Mediterranean, to the major ports of southern Europe. Early on, Tunis played a military role the Arabs recognized the strategic importance of its proximity to the Strait of Sicily. From the beginning of the 8th century Tunis was the chef-lieu of the area: it became the Arabs' naval base in the western Mediterranean Sea, and took on considerable military importance. [15] Under the Aghlabids, the people of Tunis revolted numerous times, [15] but the city benefited from economic improvements and quickly became the second most important in the kingdom. It was briefly the national capital, from the end of the reign of Ibrahim II in 902, until 909 [17] when control over Ifriqiya was lost to the newly founded Fatimid Caliphate.

Local opposition to the authorities began to intensify in September 945, when Kharijite insurgents occupied Tunis, resulting in general pillaging. [15] [18] With the rise of the Zirid dynasty Tunis gained importance, but the Sunni population tolerated Shi'ite rule less and less, and carried out massacres against the Shi'ite community. [18] In 1048 the Zirid ruler Al-Muizz ibn Badis rejected his city's obedience to the Fatimids and re-established Sunni rites throughout all of Ifriqiya. This decision infuriated the Shi'ite caliph Al-Mustansir Billah. To punish the Zirids, he unleashed the Banu Hilal Arab tribe on Ifriqiya a large part of the country was set to the torch, the Zirid capital Kairouan was razed in 1057, and only a few coastal towns, including Tunis and Mahdia, escaped destruction. Exposed to violence from the hostile tribes that settled around the city, the population of Tunis repudiated the authority of the Zirids and swore allegiance to the Hammadid prince El Nacer ibn Alennas, who was based in Béjaïa, in 1059. The governor appointed by Béjaïa, having reestablished order in the country, did not hesitate to free himself from the Hammadids to found the Khurasanid dynasty with Tunis as its capital. This small independent kingdom picked up the threads of trade and commerce with other nations, and brought the region back to peace and prosperity. [19]

New capital of Tunisia Edit

In 1159, the Almohad 'Abd al-Mu'min took Tunis, overthrew the last Khurasanid leader and installed a new government in the kasbah of Tunis. [15] The Almohad conquest marked the beginning of the dominance of the city in Tunisia. Having previously played a minor role behind Kairouan and Mahdia, Tunis was promoted to the rank of provincial capital.

In 1228, Governor Abu Zakariya seized power and, a year later, took the title of Emir and founded the Hafsid dynasty. The city became the capital of a Hafsid kingdom stretching towards Tripoli and Fez. Walls were built to protect the emerging principal town of the kingdom, surrounding the medina, the kasbah and the new suburbs of Tunis. In 1270 the city was taken briefly by Louis IX of France, who was hoping to convert the Hafsid sovereign to Christianity. King Louis easily captured Carthage, but his army soon fell victim to an outbreak of dysentery. Louis himself died before the walls of the capital and the army was forced out. At the same time, driven by the reconquest of Spain, the first Andalusian Muslims and Jews arrived in Tunis and would become of importance to the economic prosperity of the Hafsid capital and the development of its intellectual life. [15]

During the Almohad and Hafsid periods Tunis was one of the richest and grandest cities in the Islamic world, with a population of about 100,000.

During this period, one of the famous travellers to Tunis was Ibn Battuta. In his travel account, when Ibn Battuta and his group arrived in Tunis, the population of the city came out to meet him and the other members of his party. They all greeted them and were very curious, many were asking questions, however, no one in Tunis personally greeted Ibn Battuta, greatly upsetting him. He felt very lonely and could not hold back the tears coming from his eyes. This went on for a while until one of the pilgrims realized he was upset, he went up and greeted and talked to Ibn until he entered the city. At the time, the Sultan of Tunis was Abu Yahya and during Ibn Battuta's stay, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast was taking place. The people in the city assembled in large numbers to celebrate the festival, in extravagant and most luxurious outfits. Abu Yahya arrived on horseback, where all of his relatives joined him. After the performance, the people returned to their homes. [20]

Spanish occupation and Ottoman control Edit

The Ottoman Empire took nominal control of Tunis in 1534 when Hayreddin Barbarossa captured it from the Hafsid Sultan Mulai Hassan, who fled to the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Charles, suffering losses from the corsairs operating out of Djerba, Tunis, and Algiers, agreed to reinstate Mulai Hassan in exchange for his acceptance of Spanish suzerainty. A naval expedition led by Charles himself was dispatched in 1535, and the city was recaptured. The victory against the corsairs is recorded in a tapestry at the Royal Palace of Madrid. The Spanish governor of La Goulette, Luys Peres Varga, fortified the island of Chikly in the lake of Tunis to strengthen the city's defences between 1546 and 1550.

The Ottoman Uluç Ali Reis, at the head of an army of janissaries and Kabyles, retook Tunis in 1569. However, following the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Spanish under John of Austria succeeded in retaking the city and re-establishing the Hafsid sovereign in October 1573. Following these conflicts, the city finally fell into Ottoman hands in August 1574. Having become an Ottoman province governed by a Pasha who was appointed by the Sultan based in Constantinople, the country attained a degree of autonomy. After 1591, the Ottoman governors (Beys) were relatively independent, and both piracy and trade continued to flourish. Under the rule of deys and Moorish beys, the capital sprang into new life. Its population grew by additions from various ethnicities, among which were Moorish refugees from Spain, and economic activities diversified. To traditional industry and trade with distant lands was added the activity of the Barbary pirates, then in their golden age. Profits obtained from the trade in Christian slaves allowed the rulers to build sumptuous structures that revived the architectural heritage of the Middle Ages. [15]

In April 1655 the English admiral Robert Blake was sent to the Mediterranean to extract compensation from states that had been attacking English shipping. Only the Bey of Tunis refused to comply, with the result that Blake's fifteen ships attacked the Bey's arsenal at Porto Farina (Ghar el Melh), destroying nine Algerian ships and two shore batteries, the first time in naval warfare that shore batteries had been eliminated without landing men ashore.

At the beginning of the 18th century, Tunisia entered into a new period in its history with the advent of the Husainid dynasty. Successive Husainid rulers made great progress in developing the city and its buildings. During this period, the city prospered as a centre of commerce. Taking advantage of divisions within the ruling house, Algerians captured Tunis in 1756 and put the country under supervision. Hammouda Bey faced bombardment by the Venetian fleet, and the city experienced a rebellion in 1811. [23] Under the reign of Hussein Bey II, naval defeats by the British (1826) and French (1827) saw the French become increasingly active in the city and in the economy. [24]

Various sources estimate the 19th-century population to have ranged from 90,000 to 110,000 inhabitants. [25] During the later 19th century, Tunis became increasingly populated by Europeans, particularly the French, and immigration dramatically increased the size of the city. This resulted in the first demolition of the old city walls, from 1860, to accommodate growth in the suburbs. The city spilled outside the area of the earlier town and the banks of the lake, and the new districts were modernised with running water (1860), lighting gas (1872), roads, waste collection (1873), and communication with adjacent suburbs and the city centre. [26] The crafts and traditional trades declined somewhat, as the newcomers increased trade with Europe, introducing the first modern industries and new forms of urban life.

Development under the French protectorate Edit

The creation of the French protectorate in 1881 was a turning point in Tunis's history, leading to rapid redevelopment of the city in the span of two to three decades. The city quickly spread out of its fortifications: it divided into a traditional Arab-populated old city, and a new city populated by immigrants, with a different structure from that of the traditional medina. Tunis also benefited from French construction of a water supply, natural gas and electricity networks, public transport services and other public infrastructure.

Under French rule, a substantial number of Europeans settled (like the Tunisian Italians) half of the population was European in origin. [27] The city expanded and created new boulevards and neighborhoods.

Tunis was quiet during the First World War. After the war, the city faced new transformations as the modern portion grew in importance and extended its network of boulevards and streets in all directions. In addition, a series of satellite cities emerged on the urban rim and encroached on the municipality of Tunis proper. In the economic sphere, commercial activities expanded and diversified as modern industries continued to grow, while traditional industry continued to decline.

During World War II, Tunis was held by Axis forces from November 1942 to May 1943. It was their last base in Africa, as they retreated towards Sicily after being surrounded by Allied forces from Algeria to the west and from Libya to the east. [28] On 7 May 1943, at about 15:30 in the afternoon, Tunis fell to troops of British 1st Army and the U.S. 1st Army, which had defeated the German 5th Panzer Army guarding the city. At midday on 20 May 1943, the Allies held a victory parade on Avenue Maréchal Galliéni, and Avenue Jules Ferry, to signal the end of fighting in North Africa. [29]

Having succeeded in driving the Axis powers out of Tunisia, the Allies used Tunis as a base of operations from which to stage amphibious assaults first against the island of Pantelleria, and then Sicily, and finally the mainland of Italy. [30]

Growth since independence Edit

After independence in 1956, Tunis consolidated its role as the capital, first with the establishment of a constitution stating that the Chamber of Deputies and the Presidency of the Republic must have their headquarters in Tunis and its suburbs. In a very short time, the colonial city transformed rapidly. As the city has grown and native Tunisians gradually began to replace the extensive European population, conflict between the Arab city and the European city has gradually decreased with the arabization of the population.

Because of population pressure and the rate of migration to the capital, the city continued to grow, even with the creation of new districts in the suburbs. Old buildings have gradually been renovated and upgraded and new buildings have come to influence the urban landscape. At the same time, an active policy of industrialization is developing the municipal economy.

The Arab League was headquartered in Tunis from 1979 to 1990. The Arab League, which represents 22 Arab nations, transferred its headquarters to Tunis in 1979 because of Egypt's peace with Israel but has been headquartered back in Egypt since 1990.

The Palestine Liberation Organization also had its headquarters in Tunis, from 1982 to 2003. In 1985, the PLO's headquarters was bombed by Israeli Air Force F-15s, killing approximately 60 people.

21st century Edit

Many protests took place during the Arab Spring of 2011–12.

On 18 March 2015, two gunmen attacked the Bardo National Museum and held hostages. [31] Twenty civilians and one policeman were killed in the attack, while around 50 others were injured. [32] Five Japanese, two Colombians, and visitors from Italy, Poland, and Spain were among the dead. Both gunmen were killed by Tunisian police. The incident has been treated as a terrorist attack. [33] [34]

Tunis is located in north-eastern Tunisia on the Lake of Tunis, and is connected to the Mediterranean sea's Gulf of Tunis by a canal which terminates at the port of La Goulette/Halq al Wadi. The ancient city of Carthage is located just north of Tunis along the coastal part. The city lies on a similar latitude as the southernmost points of Europe.

The city of Tunis is built on a hill slope down to the lake of Tunis. These hills contain places such as Notre-Dame de Tunis, Ras Tabia, La Rabta, La Kasbah, Montfleury and La Manoubia with altitudes just above 50 metres (160 feet). [35] The city is located at the crossroads of a narrow strip of land between Lake Tunis and Séjoumi. The isthmus between them is what geologists call the "Tunis dome", which includes hills of limestone and sediments. It forms a natural bridge and since ancient times several major roads linking to Egypt and elsewhere in Tunisia have branched out from it. The roads also connect with Carthage, emphasising its political and economic importance not only in Tunisia but more widely in North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea in ancient times.

The Greater Tunis area has an area of 300,000 hectares, 30,000 of which is urbanized, the rest being shared between bodies of water (20,000 hectares of lakes or lagoons) and agricultural or natural land (250,000 hectares). However, urban growth, which is estimated to be increasing by 500 hectares per year, is gradually changing the landscape with urban sprawl.

Suburbs Edit

Municipality Population (2004)
Ettadhamen-Mnihla 118,487
Ariana 97,687
La Soukra 89,151
El Mourouj 81,986
La Marsa 77,890
Douar Hicher 75,844
Ben Arous 74,932
Mohamedia-Fouchana 74,620
Le Bardo 70,244
Le Kram 58,152
Oued Ellil 47,614
Radès 44,857
Raoued 53,911
Hammam Lif 38,401
La Goulette 28,407
Carthage 28,407
La Manouba 26,666
Mornag 26,406
Djedeida 24,746
Den Den 24,732
Tebourba 24,175
Mégrine 24,031
Kalâat el-Andalous 15,313
Mornaguia 13,382
Sidi Thabet 8,909
Sidi Bou Saïd 4,793
El Battan 5,761
Borj El Amri 5,556
Total 1,265,060
Sources: National Institute of Statistics [36]

After World War II, suburbs began to rapidly spring up on the outskirts of Tunis. These form a large percentage of the population of the Tunis metropolitan area. It grew from 27% of the total population in 1956, to 37% in 1975 and 50% in 2006.

Climate Edit

Tunis has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), [37] characterized by hot and dry, prolonged summers and mild winters with moderate rainfall. The local climate is also affected somewhat by the latitude of the city, the moderating influence of the Mediterranean sea and the terrain of the hills.

Winter is the wettest season of the year, when more than a third of the annual rainfall falls during this period, raining on average every two or three days. The sun may still increase the temperature from 7 °C (45 °F) in the morning to 16 °C (61 °F) in the afternoon on average during the winter. Frosts are rare. In spring, rainfall declines by half. The sunshine becomes dominant in May when it reaches 10 hours a day on average. In March temperatures may vary between 8 °C (46 °F) and 18 °C (64 °F), and between 13 °C (55 °F) and 24 °C (75 °F) in May. However, it is common for temperatures to soar even as early as April with record temperatures reaching 40 °C (104 °F). In summer, rain is almost completely absent and the sunlight is at a maximum. The average temperatures in the summer months of June, July, August, and September are very high. Sea breezes may mitigate the heat, but sometimes the sirocco winds reverse the trend. In autumn, it begins to rain, often with short thunderstorms, which can sometimes cause flash floods or even flood some parts of the city. [38] [39] The month of November marks a break in the general heat with average temperatures ranging from 11 °C (52 °F) to 20 °C (68 °F).

Climate data for Tunis (Tunis–Carthage International Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1943–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.1
Average high °C (°F) 16.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.6
Average low °C (°F) 7.6
Record low °C (°F) −2.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 8.6 8.1 8.0 5.5 3.1 1.7 0.6 1.3 3.5 6.1 5.9 8.1 60.5
Average relative humidity (%) 76 74 73 71 68 64 62 64 68 72 74 77 70
Mean monthly sunshine hours 145.7 159.6 198.4 225.0 282.1 309.0 356.5 328.6 258.0 217.0 174.0 148.8 2,802.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 4.7 5.7 6.4 7.5 9.1 10.3 11.5 10.6 8.6 7.0 5.8 4.8 7.7
Source 1: Institut National de la Météorologie (precipitation days/humidity/sun 1961–1990) [40] [41] [42] [note 1]
Source 2: NOAA (precipitation days/humidity/sun 1961–1990), [44] Meteo Climat (record highs and lows) [45]

Capital Edit

Tunis has been the capital of Tunisia since 1159. Under Articles 43 and 24 of the Constitution of 1959, [46] Tunis and its suburbs host the national institutions: the Presidential Palace, which is known as Carthage Palace, residence of the President of Tunisia, the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Advisors and parliament, the Constitutional Council and the main judicial institutions and public bodies. The revised Tunisian Constitution of 2014 similarly provides that the National Assembly is to sit in Tunis (article 51) and that the Presidency is based there (article 73). [47]

Municipality Edit

Institutions Edit

Following the municipal elections of 6 May 2018, Ennahdha obtained 21 seats out of 60. Nidaa Tounes came second with 17 seats. On 3 July 2018, the head of the Ennahdha list Souad Abderrahim was elected by the council as the new mayor of the capital.

Before 2011, unlike other mayors in Tunisia, the mayor of Tunis is appointed by decree of the President of the Republic from among the members of the City Council.

Budget Edit

The 2008 budget adopted by the City Council is structured as follows: 61.61 million dinars for operations and 32,516 million dinars for investment. [48] It reflects the improved financial situation of the municipality, the year 2007 was a year registering a surplus in resources that allowed the settlement of debts of the municipality and the strengthening of its credibility with respect its suppliers and public and private partners.

Revenues are generated by the proceeds of taxes on buildings and vacant lots, fees for the rental of municipal property, income from the operation of the public, advertising, and that the fact that the municipality has capital shares in some companies. On the expenditure side, provision is made for the consolidation of hygiene and cleanliness, the state of the environment and urban design, infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and renovation of facilities, and strengthening the logistics and means of work and transport. [48]

Administrative divisions Edit

The city of Tunis, whose size has increased significantly during the second half of the 20th century, now extends beyond the Tunis Governorate into parts of the governorates of Ben Arous, Ariana and Manouba.

The municipality of Tunis is divided into 15 municipal districts: [49] These include El Bab Bhar, Bab Souika, Cité El Khadra, Jelloud Jebel El Kabaria, El Menzah, El Ouardia, Ettahrir, Ezzouhour, Hraïria, Medina, El Omrane, El Omrane Higher Séjoumi, Sidi El-Bashir and Sidi Hassine.

Year Municipality Metropolitan area
1891 114,121
1901 146,276
1911 162,479
1921 171,676 192,994
1926 185,996 210,240
1931 202,405 235,230
1936 219,578 258,113
1946 364,593 449,820
1956 410,000 561,117
1966 468,997 679,603
1975 550,404 873,515
Sources: Sebag (1998)

In the years following independence, the population of the metropolitan area continued to grow: by 21.1% from 1956 to 1966 and by 28.5% from 1966 to 1975 (55.6% between 1956 and 1975). [50] This steady growth was accompanied by changes which affected the nature of the settlement of the capital. Decolonization led to the exodus of some European minorities whose numbers dwindled every year. The gaps created by their departure were filled by Tunisians who emigrated to Tunis from other parts of the country.

The population of the city of Tunis exceeds 2,000,000 inhabitants. After independence, the Tunisian government implemented a plan to cope with population growth of the city and country, a system of family planning, to attempt to lower the rate of population growth. However, between 1994 and 2004, the population of the governorate of Tunis grew more than 1.03% per annum. It represents, in the 2004 census, 9.9% of the total population of Tunisia. [51] As in the rest of Tunisia, literacy in the region of Tunis evolved rapidly during the second half of the 20th century and has reached a level slightly higher than the national average. The education level is only exceeded by the neighbouring governorate of Ariana which has many institutions of education.

Overview Edit

Products include textiles, carpets, and olive oil. Tourism also provides a significant portion of the city's income.

Because of the concentration of political authority (headquarters of the central government, presidency, parliament, ministries and central government) and culture (festivals and mainstream media), Tunis is the only nationally ranking metropolis. Tunis is the heartland of the Tunisian economy and is the industrial and economic hub of the country, home to one third of Tunisian companies—including almost all the head offices of companies with more than fifty employees, with the exception of the Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, headquartered in Gafsa—and produces a third of the national gross domestic product. [52] Tunis attracts foreign investors (33% of companies, 26% of investments and 27% of employment), excluding several areas due to economic imbalances. According to the Mercer 2017 Cost of Living Rankings, Tunis has the lowest cost of living for expatriates in the world. [53] The urban unemployment rate of university graduates is increasing and the illiteracy rate remains high among the elderly (27% of women and 12% of men). [52] The number of people living below the poverty line, falling at the national level, remains higher in urban areas. In addition, unemployment is high in young people aged 18 to 24, with one in three unemployed as compared to one in six at the national level. In Greater Tunis, the proportion of young unemployed is at 35%. [52]

Gulf finance house or GFH has invested $10 billion in order for the construction of tunis financial harbor, that will transform Tunisia as the gateway to Africa from Europe. The project hopes to boost the economy of Tunisia as well as increase the number of tourists visiting Tunisia annually. The project is going through planning.

Sectors Edit

The economic structure of Tunis, as well as that of the country, is overwhelmingly tertiary industry. The city is the largest financial centre in the country hosting the headquarters of 65% of financial companies – while the industrial sectors are gradually declining in importance. [52] However the secondary industry is still very represented and Tunis hosts 85% of industrial establishments in the four governorates, with a trend towards the spread of specialized industrial zones in the suburbs.

Primary industry such as agriculture, however, is active in specialized agricultural areas in the suburbs, particularly in the wine and olive oil industries. The generally flat terrain and the two main rivers in Tunisia, the Medjerda to the north and the Milian to the south, the soils are fertile. [54] Tunis has several large plains, the most productive are in Ariana and La Soukra (north), the plain of Manouba (west) and the plain of Mornag (south). In addition, groundwater is easily accessible through the drilling of deep wells, providing water for the different agriculture crops. The soils are heavy and contain limestone in the north but are lighter and sandy containing clay in the south. [55] There is much diversification in the municipality of Tunis, with Durum grown in Manouba, Olives and olive oil in Ariana and Mornag, wine (Mornag), and fruit, vegetable and legumes are grown in all regions. [56]

Urban landscape Edit

The Medina, built on a gentle hill slope on the way down to the Lake of Tunis, is the historical heart of the city and home to many monuments, including palaces, such as the Dar Ben Abdallah and Dar Hussein, the mausoleum of Tourbet el Bey or many mosques such as the Al-Zaytuna Mosque. Some of the fortifications around it have now largely disappeared, and it is flanked by the two suburbs of Bab Souika to the north and Bab El Jazira to the south. Located near the Bab Souika, the neighborhood of Halfaouine which gained international attention through the film 'Halfaouine Child of the Terraces'.

But east of the original nucleus, first with the construction of the French Consulate, the modern city was built gradually with the introduction of the French protectorate at the end of the 19th century, on open land between the city and the lake. The axis to the structure of this part of the city is the Avenue Habib Bourguiba, designed by the French to be a Tunisian form of Champs-Élysées in Paris with its cafes, major hotels, shops and cultural venues. On both sides of the tree lines avenue, north and south, the city was extended in various districts, with the northern end welcoming residential and business districts while the south receives industrial districts and poorer peoples.

South-east of the Avenue Bourguiba the district of La Petite Sicile (Little Sicily) is adjacent to the old port area and takes its name from its original population of workers from Italy. It is now the subject of a redevelopment project including the construction of twin towers. North of the Avenue Bourguiba is the district of La Fayette, which is still home to the Great Synagogue of Tunis and the Habib Thameur Gardens, built on the site of an ancient Jewish cemetery which lay outside the walls. Also to the north is the long Avenue Mohamed V, which leads to the Boulevard of 7 November through the neighborhood of the big banks where there are hotels and Abu Nawas Lake and finally to the Belvedere area around the place Pasteur. This is where the Belvedere Park lies, the largest in the city, and home to a zoo and the Pasteur Institute founded by Adrien Loir in 1893. Continuing to the north are the most exclusive neighborhoods of Mutuelleville which house the French Lycée Pierre-Mendès-France, the Sheraton Hotel and some embassies.

Still further north of the Belvedere Park, behind the Boulevard of 7 November are the neighborhoods of El Menzah and El Manar now reaching the peaks of the hills overlooking the north of the town. They support a range of residential and commercial buildings. To the west of the park lies the district of El Omrane which holds the main Muslim cemetery in the capital and the warehouses of public transport. Heading east is the Tunis-Carthage International Airport and the neighborhoods of Borgel, giving his name to the existing Jewish and Christian cemeteries in the capital, and the neighbourhood of Montplaisir. Beyond that, several kilometers north-east, on the road to La Marsa, the Berges du Lac was built on land reclaimed from the north shore of the lake near the airport, which has holds offices of Tunisian and foreign companies, many embassies as well as shops.

Southwest of the Medina, on the crest of the hills across the Isthmus of Tunis, is the Montfleury district then on down to the foothills of Séjoumi, the poor neighborhood of Mellassine. Northwest of the latter, north of the National Route 3 leading to the west, is the city of Ezzouhour (formerly El Kharrouba), which spans more than three metres (9.8 feet) and is divided into five sections. It is still surrounded with farmland and vegetables are grown which supply many of the souks in the region.

The south of Tunis is made up of disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially due to the strong industry in this part of the metropolis. These include Jebel Jelloud, located in the south-east of Tunis, which concentrates on the heavy industry of cement production, the treatment plant of phosphate s, etc. The main cemetery in Tunis, the Djellaz Cemetery, dominates this part of town, perched on the slopes of a rocky outcrop.

Médina Edit

The medina of Tunis has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The Medina contains some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains dating from the Almohad and the Hafsid periods. These ancient buildings include:

  • The Aghlabid Al-Zaytouna Mosque ("Mosque of the Olive") built in 723 by Ubayd Allah ibn al-Habhab to celebrate the new capital.
  • The Dar El Bey, or Bey's Palace, comprises architecture and decoration from many different styles and periods and is believed to stand on the remains of a Roman theatre as well as the 10th-century palace of Ziadib-Allah II al Aghlab.

With an area of 270 hectares (over 29 hectares for the Kasbah) [57] and more than 100,000 people, the Medina comprises one-tenth of the population of Tunis. The planning of the Medina of Tunis has the distinction of not grid lines or formal geometric compositions. However, studies were undertaken in the 1930s with the arrival of the first anthropologists who found that the space of the Medina is not random: the houses are based on a socio-cultural code according to the types of complex human relations.

Domestic architecture (palaces and townhouses), official and civilian (libraries and administrations), religious (mosques and zaouïas) and services (commercial and fondouks) are located in the Medina. The notion of public space is ambiguous in the case of Medina where the streets are seen as an extension of the houses and subject to social tags. The concept of ownership is low however and souks often spill out onto public roads. Today, each district has its culture and rivalries can be strong.

The northern end supports the football club of Esperance Sportive de Tunis while at the other end is the rival Club Africain. The Medina also has a social sectorization: with the neighborhood of Tourbet el Bey and the Kasbah district being aristocratic, with a population of judges and politicians, while the streets of Pacha often being military and bourgeois.

Founded in 698 is the Al-Zaytuna Mosque and the surrounding area which developed throughout the Middle Ages, [57] dividing Tunis into a main town in two suburbs, in the north (Bab Souika) and the south (Bab El Jazira). The area became the capital of a powerful kingdom during the Hafsid era, and was considered a religious and intellectual home and economic center for the Middle East, Africa and Europe. A great fusion of influences can be seen blending Andalusian styles with eastern influences, and Roman or Byzantine columns, and typical Arab architecture, characterized by the archways. The architectural heritage is also omnipresent in the homes of individuals and small palace officials as well as in the palace of the sovereign of Kasbah. Although some palaces and houses date back to the Middle Ages, a greater number of prestigious houses were built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries such as Dar Othman (early 17th century), Dar Ben Abdallah (18th century), Dar Hussein, Dar Cherif and other houses. The main palace beys are those of La Marsa, Bardo and Ksar Said. If we add the mosques and oratories (about 200), the madrasahs (El Bachia, Slimania, El Achouria, Bir El Ahjar, Ennakhla, etc..), The zaouias (Mahrez Sidi Sidi Ali Azouz, Sidi Abdel Kader, etc.) and Tourbet El Fellari, Tourbet Aziza Othman and Tourbet El Bey the number of monuments in Tunis approaches 600. Unlike Algiers, Palermo and Naples, its historical heart has never suffered from major natural disasters or urban radical interventions. The main conflicts and potentially destructive human behavior has been experienced in the city occurred relatively recently following the country's independence which it why it made into a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Medina is one of the best preserved urban locations in the Arab world. [58]

Furthermore, along the boulevards, the contribution of the architectural period 1850–1950 can be felt in the buildings, such as the government buildings of the nine ministries and the headquarters of the municipality of Tunis.

Other landmarks Edit

  • The Bardo Museum was originally a 13th-century Hafsid palace, located in the (then) suburbs of Tunis. It contains a major collection of Roman empires and other antiquities of interest from Ancient Greece, Tunisia, and from the Arab period.
  • The ruins of Carthage are nearby, along the coast to the northeast, with many ancient ruins.

Souks Edit

The souks are a network of covered streets lined with shops and traders and artisans ordered by specialty. [59] Clothing merchants, perfumers, fruit sellers, booksellers and wool merchants have goods at the souks, while fishmongers, blacksmiths and potters tend to be relegated to the periphery of the markets. [59]

North of the Al-Zaytuna Mosque is the Souk El Attarine, built in the early 18th century. It is known for its essences and perfumes. From this souk, there is a street leading to the Souk Ech-Chaouachine (chachia). The main company that operates it is one of the oldest in the country and they are generally descendants of Andalusian immigrants expelled from Spain. Attached to El Attarine are two other souks: the first, which runs along the western coast of the Al-Zaytuna Mosque, is the Souk El Kmach which is noted for its fabrics, and the second, the Souk El Berka, which was built in the 17th century and houses embroiderers and jewelers. Given the valuable items it sells, it is the only souk whose doors are closed and guarded during the night. In the middle there is a square where the former slave market stood until the middle of the 19th century.

Souk El Berka leads to Souk El Leffa, a souk that sells many carpets, blankets and other weavings, and extends with the Souk Es Sarragine, built in the early 18th century and specializing in leather. At the periphery are the souks Et Trouk, El Blat, El Blaghgia, El Kébabgia, En Nhas (copper), Es Sabbaghine (dyeing) and El Grana that sell clothing and blankets and was occupied by Jewish merchants.


The Republic of Tunisia lies on the North African coast, 130km (80 miles) southwest of Sicily and 160km (100 miles) due south of Sardinia. Dwarfed by its neighbours, sandwiched between Algeria to the west and Libya to the east, Tunisia is just over 163,000 sq km in size. It may be small but Tunisia has a landscape which varies from the cliffs of the north coast, to the woodland of the interior, from desert to rich, arable land, and from mountains to salt pans below sea level.

The 1,148 km (713 miles) Mediterranean coastline is dotted with small islands, notably Djerba in the south and Kerkennah in the east. The coastline is backed by lush pasture, orchards, vineyards and olive groves and is the most populous area of the country.

The north of the country is increasingly mountainous with rolling pine-clad hills a large feature of the landscape. South of Gafsa and Gabès the central region's countryside becomes starker with semi-arid plains as the Sahara begins to exert its influence.

The desert region of the Sahara is one of Tunisia's most famous features. Its diverse environment of mammoth salt pans, vast sand plains and towering dunes, interspersed with lush oases forms the landscape of the south.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Traditional Tunisian cuisine reflects local agriculture. It stresses wheat, in the form of bread or couscous, olives and olive oil, meat (above all, mutton), fruit, and vegetables. Couscous (semolina wheat prepared with a stew of meat and vegetables) is the national dish, and most people eat

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Sweet or colorful dishes symbolize religious holidays, usually in addition to couscous. For weddings and other happy occasions, sweets are added to the couscous. Animals are slaughtered for religious gatherings, and the meat is shared among the participants as a way of symbolizing the togetherness.

Basic Economy. Tunisia is historically an agricultural country, and agriculture now absorbs 22 percent of the labor force about 20 percent of the country is farmland. Rain-fed agriculture dominates and concentrates on wheat, olives, and animal husbandry. Wheat is mostly used domestically, and Tunisia is a major world producer of olive oil. Animal husbandry for domestic consumption is significant, especially sheep and goats, but also cattle in the north and camels in the south. Citrus and other tree crops are produced both under rain-fed and irrigated conditions, and are often exported. About 6 percent of the arable land is irrigated and is used to grow the full range of crops, but perhaps is most typically used for vegetables and other garden crops. Dates are grown in irrigated oases. The long coastline orients Tunisians toward the sea and toward fishing.

Land Tenure and Property. Traditionally, much agricultural land and urban property was held as collective property, either undivided inheritances or endowed land. From the mid-nineteenth century this system has been giving way to the predominance of individual land and property ownership. The state itself is a major property owner.

Commercial Activities. Most aspects of life in Tunisia have been monetized, apart from some subsistence farming. Subsistence farmers can be recognized because they cultivate a variety of crops, while market-oriented farmers concentrate on a few. Most Tunisian farmers expect to sell their crops and buy their needs. The same applies to craftsmen and other occupations. Rural Tunisia is covered by an interlocking network of weekly markets that provide basic consumption goods to the rural population and serve as collecting points for animals and other produce. Among the very poor in Tunisia are self-employed street vendors, market traders, and others in the lower levels of the informal sector.

Major Industries. The national government after independence continued to develop phosphate and other mines, and to develop processing factories near the mines or along the coast. There is some oil in the far south and in the center. Efforts to develop heavy industry (such as steel and shipbuilding) are limited. More recently light industry has expanded in the clothing, household goods, food processing, and diamond-cutting sectors. Some of this is done in customs-free zones for export to Europe.

Considerable small-scale manufacturing is done in artisanal workshops for the local market. These workshops, often with fewer than ten workers including the owner, are the upper level of the informal sector. Overall, manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of the labor force.

The service sector is also substantial in Tunisia. Employment in services is about 55 percent of the labor force. A major service industry is tourism, mostly along the coast and oriented toward Europeans on beach holidays with excursions to historical sites. Contact with tourists has been a major source of new ideas. Banking and trade are also well developed, both internationally and in terms of a network of markets and traders in the country.

Trade. Exports include light industry products and agricultural products, such as wheat, citrus, and olive oil. Imports include a variety of consumer goods and machinery for industry.

Division of Labor. The national division of labor reflects education and gender. There are many relatively complex jobs, whether for the government or not, that require specific educational skills and background. Thus the educational system provides a major input into the division of labor.

Many Tunisian men, and some families, now live and work abroad. This began with migration to France in the early twentieth century. Tunisians now also migrate to various European countries, and to oil countries such as neighboring Libya or the more distant Persian Gulf nations. Remittances and other forms of investment at home are significant, and returned migrants play a role in many communities. Since many men from the marginal agricultural areas have migrated in search of work, agricultural labor has been feminized. Intellectual and professional Tunisians also migrate, but the paths are more individual.

Capital Facts for Tunis, Tunisia: Quick Reference

Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in Tunis, Tunisia.

  • Hend Sabry, actress (born Nov. 20, 1979)
  • Rym Saidi, model (born Jun. 21, 1986)
  • Tarak Ben Ammar, film producer (born Jun. 12, 1949)
  • Leila Ben Khalifa, TV host & reality star (born Feb. 16, 1982)
  • Dany Brillant, singer-songwriter (born Dec. 28, 1965)
  • Michel Boujenah, comedian & screenwriter (born Nov. 3, 1952)
  • Radhia Nasraoui, human rights lawyer (born 1953)
  • Brigitte Engerer, chamber musician (born Oct. 27, 1952)
  • Férid Boughedir, film director & screenwriter (born 1944)
  • Roberto Blanco, actor (born Jun. 7, 1937)

Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches mostly targeting published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.

Tunisia Culture

Religion in Tunisia

The principal religion is Islam there are small Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish minorities.

Social Conventions in Tunisia

Arabic in culture and tradition, Tunisia is a liberal and tolerant Muslim society with many equality laws enshrined in the Tunisian Constitution brought in by the country's first president Habib Bourguiba. Polygamy is outlawed, women are free to choose whether to wear the headscarf, and have the right to ask for divorce, work, run their own businesses, and have access to abortion and birth control.

Although cities like Tunis, Sfax and Sousse can seem extremely liberal and modern, it is important to remember that in more rural areas local life is much more traditional. Outside of resort areas visitors should dress modestly out of respect for their culture. Most Tunisian men would not be caught dead wearing shorts once off the beach and in the countryside it is practically unheard of. Likewise, once away from touristy areas, women should avoid wearing skimpy, revealing clothing. When visiting mosques and other religious buildings, both sexes should make sure their clothing covers their upper arms and knees, and women should wear a headscarf. On a separate note, Tunisians take a lot of pride in their dress and although informal clothing is now very acceptable among younger Tunisians, visitors will garner more respect if they don&rsquot dress scruffily.

Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. Women greeting other women and men greeting other men will often also kiss each other the cheek. It is common to place your right hand across your heart after shaking hands. This is also a polite way of showing your thanks. Occasionally, among more religious people greeting people of the opposite sex, this is used as a greeting instead of shaking hands.

Hospitality is important in Tunisia and a small gift in appreciation of hospitality or as a token of friendship is always well-received.

Tunisia Government, History, Population & Geography

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

Population: 9,380,404 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (male 1,526,743 female 1,433,503)
15-64 years: 63% (male 2,933,487 female 2,947,189)
65 years and over: 5% (male 275,411 female 264,071) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.43% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 20.07 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.06 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.73 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 32.64 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.1 years
male: 71.72 years
female: 74.58 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.44 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.7%
male: 78.6%
female: 54.6% (1995 est.)

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Tunisia
conventional short form: Tunisia
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
local short form: Tunis

Government type: republic

National capital: Tunis

Administrative divisions: 23 governorates Beja, Ben Arous, Bizerte, Gabes, Gafsa, Jendouba, Kairouan, Kasserine, Kebili, L'Ariana, Le Kef, Mahdia, Medenine, Monastir, Nabeul, Sfax, Sidi Bou Zid, Siliana, Sousse, Tataouine, Tozeur, Tunis, Zaghouan

Independence: 20 March 1956 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 20 March (1956)

Constitution: 1 June 1959 amended 12 July 1988

Legal system: based on French civil law system and Islamic law some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session

Suffrage: 20 years of age universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987)
head of government: Prime Minister Hamed KAROUI (since 26 September 1989)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term election last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held NA 1999) prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected without opposition percent of vote—Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 99%

Legislative branch: unicameral Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (163 seats members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held NA 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—RCD 97.7%, MDS 1.0%, others 1.3% seats by party—RCD 144, MDS 10, others 9 note—the government changed the electoral code to guarantee that the opposition won seats

Judicial branch: Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation)

Political parties and leaders: Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (RCD), President BEN ALI (official ruling party) Movement of Democratic Socialists (MDS) five other political parties are legal, including the Communist Party

Political pressure groups and leaders: the Islamic fundamentalist party, Al Nahda (Renaissance), is outlawed

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, BSEC (observer), CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, MIPONUH, NAM, OAS (observer), OAU, OIC, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Noureddine MEJDOUB
chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robin L. RAPHEL
embassy: 144 Avenue de la Liberte, 1002 Tunis-Belvedere
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [216] (1) 782-566
FAX: [216] (1) 789-719

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—overview: Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization of trade and commerce, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Real growth averaged 4.6% in 1992-96 and reached 5.6% in 1997, down from 6.9% in 1996, which benefited from a record cereal crop. Inflation has been moderate. Growth in tourism and increased trade have been key elements in this solid record. Tunisia's association agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 March 1998, the first such accord between the EU and Mediterranean countries to be activated. Under the agreement Tunisia will gradually remove barriers to trade with the EU over the next decade. Further privatization, the attraction of increased foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the challenges for the future.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$56.5 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,100 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 14%
industry: 28%
services: 58% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 4.6% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 2.917 million (1993 est.)
by occupation: services 55%, industry 23%, agriculture 22% (1995 est.)
note: shortage of skilled labor

Unemployment rate: 15% (1997 est.)

revenues: $6.3 billion
expenditures: $6.8 billion, including capital expenditures to $1.5 billion (1997 est.)

Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, food, beverages

Industrial production growth rate: 3.5% (1995)

Electricity—capacity: 1.414 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 6.165 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 696 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: olives, dates, oranges, almonds, grain, sugar beets, grapes poultry, beef, dairy products

total value: $5.6 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: hydrocarbons, textiles, agricultural products, phosphates and chemicals
partners: EU 80%, North African countries 6%, Asia 4%, US 1% (1996)

total value: $7.4 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
commodities: industrial goods and equipment 57%, hydrocarbons 13%, food 12%, consumer goods
partners: EU countries 80%, North African countries 5.5%, Asia 5.5%, US 5% (1996)

Debt—external: $10.6 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $221 million (1993)

Currency: 1 Tunisian dinar (TD) = 1,000 millimes

Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TD) per US$1ק.1612 (January 1998), 1.1059 (1997), 0.9734 (1996), 0.9458 (1995), 1.0116 (1994), 1.0037 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Telephones: 560,000 (1996 est.)

Telephone system: the system is above the African average key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis
domestic: trunk facilities consist of open-wire lines, coaxial cable, and microwave radio relay
international: 5 submarine cables satellite earth stationsק Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat with back-up control station coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya participant in Medarabtel

Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 8, shortwave 0

Radios: 1,693,527 (1991 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 19

Televisions: 1.4 million

Communications—note: Internet access is available through two private service providers licensed by the government

total: 2,260 km
standard gauge: 492 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,758 km 1.000-m gauge
dual gauge: 10 km 1.000-m and 1.435-m gauges (1993 est.)

total: 23,100 km
paved: 18,226 km
unpaved: 4,874 km (1996 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 797 km petroleum products 86 km natural gas 742 km

Ports and harbors: Bizerte, Gabes, La Goulette, Sfax, Sousse, Tunis, Zarzis

Merchant marine:
total: 20 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 157,475 GRT/165,922 DWT
ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 5, chemical tanker 2, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 32 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 15
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 7 (1997 est.)

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary forces

Military manpower—military age: 20 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 2,534,929 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 1,450,442 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 96,966 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $535 million (1995)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.8% (1995)

Disputes—international: maritime boundary dispute with Libya Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

Standard Arabic is the official language by the Tunisian constitution. But Tunisians speak Tunisian Arabic. Tunisian Arabic is a mix of many languages of people that live or lived in Tunisia. It is called Darija or Tunsi.

A small number of people living in Tunisia still speak a Berber dialect, known as Shelha.

Most people now living Tunisian are Maghrebin Arab. However, small groups of Berbers and Jews live in Tunisia.

The constitution says that Islam is the official state religion. It also requires the President to be Muslim.

Name: Matmata (Matmata)
Status: Very small place
Population: 2,406 people
Region name (Level 1): Qabis
Country: Tunisia
Continent: Africa

Matmata is located in the region of Qabis. Qabis's capital Gabes (Gabès) is approximately 39 km / 24 mi away from Matmata (as the crow flies). The distance from Matmata to Tunisia's capital Tunis (Tunis) is approximately 364 km / 226 mi (as the crow flies).

Maybe also interesting: Distances from Matmata to the largest places in Tunisia.

Facts and figures about Matmata
Matmata Matmata Very small place2,406 peopleQabis Gouvernorat de Gabès

Watch the video: Zooming in on TUNISIA. Geography of Tunisia with Google Earth