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Tunisia


Key Figures | Reference Map | General Information | Demography | Geography | Political Background | Economy | Disaster and response preparedness measures | Humanitarian response operations | History of Disasters | Sources

Key Figures  
Total population : 11.5 Million (2018)
Area : 164,150 km²
Major languages : Arabic (Official), French
Number of provinces : 24 provinces (governorates)
GDP : $42 billion USD
GDP per capita : 3,690 USD
Average life expectancy : 74 years (men), 78 years (women)
Human Development Index : Index - 0.735, Rank - 95
Literacy rate : 81.8% (89.6% men, 74.2% women) (2015 est.)
Currency : Tunisian Dinar

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Tunisia Interactive Humanitarian Map

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General information
Tunisia (officially the Republic of Tunisia) is a country in the Maghreb region of North 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 11.435 million in 2017. Tunisia's name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on its northeast coast. Tunisia is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic. It is considered to be the only fully democratic sovereign state 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 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, 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.
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Demography
Almost 70% of Tunisia’s population live in urban areas (2018). Unemployment remains high (15.5 percent in 2017), particularly for youth and women, and in the interior regions, given limited progress towards greater job creation, one of the chief demands of the 2011 revolution. This is partially due to mainly due to the weak job creation and the very weak participation of women in the labour force (27 percent compared to 69 percent for men). Agriculture employs a large part of the workforce and tourism represents a key sector for the country’s economy. National family planning programmes (the first in Africa) and a raise in the legal age of marriage in the sixties, have contributed to reducing the total fertility rate from about 7 children per woman in 1960 to 2 today. Tunisia has a history of labor emigration. In the 1960s, workers migrated to European countries as well as to Libya to escape poor economic conditions and to fill other countries’ need for low-skilled labor in construction and manufacturing. Following the 2011 uprising, the illegal migration of unemployed Tunisian youths to Italy and onward to France soared into the tens of thousands. Tunisia also became a transit point for sub-Saharan migrants heading to Europe.
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Geography
Tunisia is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Algeria and Libya.
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Political background
After independence from the French colonial rule in 1956, Tunisia was led for three decades by Habib Bourguiba, who advanced secular ideas. Under Bourguiba's rule, Tunisia became one of the most socially liberal and economically prosperous countries in the Arab region. Polygamy was prohibited, women were given broader legal rights and the country's public education system was reformed. In 1987, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali took over as president after declaring Bourguiba - 84 years old at the time - medically unfit to rule. In 2011, mass protests overthrew President Ben Ali - the first of a series of popular uprisings to sweep the region. Social media played a key role in the uprising. Ben Ali fled the country for Saudi Arabia. Following the uprising, a new constitution was drafted and ratified in January 2014. The country's transition was relatively peaceful, but secular Tunisians have been increasingly concerned about the growing influence of ultra-conservative Islamists. Parliamentary and presidential elections for a permanent government were held at the end of 2014. Beji Caid Essebsi was elected as the first president under the country's new constitution. His term, as well as that of Tunisia’s Parliament, expires in 2019. Youssef Chahed became Tunisia's seventh prime minister in August 2016. His unity government includes a broad coalition of secular, Islamist and leftist parties, independents and trade union allies.
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Economy
Tunisia’s growth performance in the post-revolution period remains weak. The political transition, recurrent social tensions, domestic security shocks, the political and security situation in the Middle East and North Africa (including in neighboring Libya), and delays in implementing the needed reforms have slowed down economic recovery and generated growing social dissatisfaction with the lack of employment opportunities. After the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and a series of terrorist attacks, including on the country’s tourism sector, barriers to economic inclusion continued to slow economic growth and high unemployment. Tunisia’s government remains under pressure to boost economic growth quickly to mitigate chronic socio-economic challenges, especially high levels of youth unemployment, which has persisted since the revolution in 2011. Successive terrorist attacks against the tourism sector and worker strikes in the phosphate sector, which combined account for nearly 15% of GDP, slowed growth from 2015 to 2017. Growth in 2017 was driven mainly by agriculture and services, while industrial output and non-manufacturing industries (phosphate, oil and gas) have not fully recovered. Tunisia has in place an unconditional cash transfer program providing a social safety net (SSN) for vulnerable households which represent approximately eight percent of the population. 28 percent of the population also receives health care insurance cards through this program for subsidized services.
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Disaster and response preparedness measures
Tunisia has undertaken efforts to strengthen its disaster risk reduction and management capacity. To this end, Tunisia has recently been collaborating with the European Union on the “Increasing Preparedness Capacities Across Mediterranean 2 (IPCAM2) project. The project, started in January 2017 and expected to last 24 months, aims, among other goals, to support the development of measures to prepare to disaster management by the Tunisian Civil Protection through a stronger international cooperation. The working group’s coordination is assigned to the Tunisian National Office of Civil Protection who is at the same time the partner and the beneficiary of IPCAM2. It is expected to develop and propose national operational procedures to formulate an international assistance request in the framework of the European Mechanism of Civil Protection, the reception of international teams, their deployment and the follow-up of operations (Support of host country). The project is implemented by a consortium led by the Italian Civil Protection Department (DPC) and which includes the Tunisian Civil Protection National Office (ONPC), the German Agency for Technical Rescue (THW) and the German Federal Bureau for Civil Protection and Assistance in case of Disaster (BBK).
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Humanitarian response operations
No ongoing humanitarian response.
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History of disasters
Some of the most common natural disasters that have affected Tunisia over the years have been floods, landslides and earthquakes (particularly in the areas of Regions that have experienced earthquakes are Tunis, Ben Arous, Nabeul, Bizerte, Monastir, El Kef, Jendouba, Sidi Bouzid, Tozeur), soil erosion, desertification, and others, such as forest fires.
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Sources
BBC News, United Nations, the World Bank, CIA Factbook