+216 is the dialing code for Tunisia.
Tunisia on the Mediterranean coast of Africa has been invaded by Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans and French during various eras. The country that became an independent state in 1956 experienced the first genuinely popular revolution in the Arab world in 2011. Several other countries came to follow, but Tunisia soon emerged as the only example of democratization.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Tunisia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Tunisia is located in North Africa between Algeria in the west and Libya in the southeast. In the north and east, the country has a coast of more than 130 km towards the Mediterranean. The distance to Sicily is less than 15 km.
Northwestern Tunisia is dominated by the Atlas Mountain foothills north and south of Medjerda, the only Tunisian river that does not occasionally dry out. The mountains are partly wooded, and between them lie fertile valleys. The wetlands in the north are on the UN body UNESCO World Heritage List but are strongly threatened by environmental degradation.
In the north there is a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and relatively rainy winters. In the mountains in the northwest, most rain falls throughout North Africa.
The country’s middle part consists of steppe and low mountain plateaus. There are also salt lakes (this is called chott).
|Cultivated land||64.8 %|
|Land area||163610 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||0.89 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||66.8 %|
|Death rate||5.98 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||78.14 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||73.79 years|
|Birth rate||16.64 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||22.35 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||16090 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per resident||918 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||1879 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||3 million tons|
|Internet users||45.5 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||131 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||125 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||15.4% of the workforce|
|GDP||11400 per resident|
|Primary occupations||18.3 %|
|Secondary profession||31.9 %|
|Tertiary professions||49.8 %|
To the south, the climate is drier and in the far south there is a desert climate with hardly any rainfall at all. From Algeria, the Saharan sand desert Grand Erg Oriental runs into Tunisia. Even oases in the Sahara are now among the destinations that attract tourists.
164 150 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
Capital with number of residents
Tunis 639,000 (2.4 million in metropolitan area)
Other major cities
Sfax 273 000, Sousse 222 000 (2012)
Jebel Chambi (1,554 m asl)
Increased migrant smuggling via Tunisia
Tunisian fishermen find about 20 people drowned on islands outside the city of Sfax. Those killed are believed to be Ivory Coast migrants who have tried to get to Italy a few days earlier but have been in distress. Other migrants say they were on a boat that may have had an additional 30 passengers on board. The number of attempts at migrant smuggling off the Tunisian coast has increased by 2020, states Vincent Cochetel, who for the UN organization UNHCR is following the situation in the Mediterranean. He has compared the period January-April with the same period the year before.
Corona restrictions are stepped down
Prime Minister Fakhfakh announces a plan for Tunisia’s economy after the corona crisis. According to the plan, the plan is expected to be presented to Parliament at the end of June and will focus on particularly affected industries (the tourism industry can be expected to be one of them). The restrictions on the spread of infection introduced in the country during the spring began to ease in early May and the return to normal social functions takes place in several steps. By the time Fakhfakh holds his TV speech, 47 covid-19 death victims are known in Tunisia.
Emergency loans from the IMF against the corona crisis
The Board of Directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) paid emergency loans of $ 745 million to Tunisia’s emergency response to the corona crisis. The money will mainly go to health care and to companies that lose income during the crisis.
Fakhfakh is allowed to govern by decree
Prime Minister Fakhfakh is given increased power to be able to make decisions that counteract the corona pandemic. That is the meaning of a decision taken by Parliament. 178 out of 217 members vote in favor. For two months, the Prime Minister is given the right to rule by decree, without the decisions having to be approved by the elected officials before they can take effect. But when the two-month period expires, the decrees to Parliament must be ratified.
EU contribution to coronavirus
The EU pledges EUR 250 million to Tunisia to help the country fight the covid-19 viral disease. One week earlier, the Tunisian government has announced a support package worth a total of € 48 million to the worst affected, which must, however, register at least one week into April in order to receive the grant.
Curfew on the spread of infection
Nightly curfew is introduced to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, and a few days later, citizens’ freedom of movement is also restricted during the day. On March 23, authorities say more than 400 people have been arrested for breaking the rules, but all but 30 have been released with a warning. Of the 90 confirmed cases of illness in Tunisia, three patients have died. Military is ordered out on the streets to ensure compliance with the regulations and more than 400 restaurants and cafes are forced to close.
New government approved
Almost five months after the parliamentary elections, Tunisia gets a new government. A ministry proposed by Elyas Fakhfakh, former finance minister who now has the post of prime minister, wins a vote of confidence in Parliament. After being promised six ministerial posts, the Islamist party Ennahda has also promised to participate. An immediate task for the government is to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2016, the IMF approved a four-year loan of $ 3 billion, against claims for certain refomas. So far, 1.6 billion has been paid out. The loan promise expires in April and the first repayments are scheduled to be made in November.
Islamists slow new government
Elyas Fakhfakh, who has been given the presidency’s mandate to form a government, finishes a set of laws but encounters immediate problems: the ministers linked to the large Islamist party Ennahda he wants to appoint resign. By March 15, Fakhfakh must obtain a minister approved by Parliament.
UN Security Council challenge for Saïed
President Saïed’s first foreign policy action is called into question. Following a powerful UN condemnation of a peace plan put forward by US President Donald Trump for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Kaïs Saïed suddenly replaces the country’s UN ambassador Moncef Baati. Despite Saïed’s earlier strong support for the Palestinians, Baati goes further in his criticism of the United States than the Tunisian government wishes. Tunisia is currently the only Arab country in the UN Security Council, and diplomatic sources say the US is exerting pressure on member states not to support Palestinian initiatives in the UN.
Bloggers with impact die
Activist and blogger Lina Ben Mhenni dies at the age of 36 after several years of illness. In 2011, when the Arab Spring erupted with Tunisia as the first protest scene, she had a key role through her reports from the country’s poorest areas. For several years, she documented through her blog how the regime under President Zine el-Abidin Ben Ali abused the country. Ben Ali was the first of the undemocratic leaders in the Arab world to be driven away by the popular wave of protest.
New Government Former appointed
President Saïed commissioned former finance minister Elyas Fakhfakh to try to form a government. Youssef Chahed’s government remains as transitional minister. If Fakhfakh fails to get Parliament’s approval for a new government, fresh elections must be held.
Death sentence for bus attack
Eight defendants are sentenced to death for an 2015 attack targeted at the Presidential Guard’s bus, and two are sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. Twelve people died in the attack in Tunis that the Islamic State (IS) terror group took on. Only four of the suspects were present in court, the others were convicted in their absence. Tunisia has not executed any execution since 1991.
No to the Jemli government
Parliament votes against the ministry proposed by Habib Jemli, with 134 votes against and 72 votes in favor. The rejection means that within ten days President Saïed must ask someone else to form a government. Especially for the Ennahda party, the vote is a defeat. Qalb Tounes, the TV mogul Nabil Karoui’s party, which is the second largest in the parliament with 38 seats, believes that Jemli’s proposal would not have given a sufficiently independent government.
Jemli’s ministerial list ready
Prime Minister candidate Habib Jemli presents the new government which he hopes will be approved by Parliament (see November 15, 2019). Among the 28 selected, who are described as politically independent, there are four women. Soccer player Tarek Dhiab is intended for the Sports Minister’s portfolio and actor Fathi Hadaoui as Minister of Culture. Few of the other people Jemli wants to appoint are known names to the public, but the ministerial list has been preceded by negotiations between the parties that also unions have participated in. The only one from the previous government who is allowed to remain in his post is Roni Trabelsi, who is responsible for a important portfolio: tourism (see November 5, 2018).