Bookmark and Share


Tunisia
INTRODUCTION
1. Geography
2. Political situation
3. Economy
a. Figures
4. Health
5. Education
a. Universities
6. Demographics
7. Religions
a. Freedom
8. Peoples
9. Languages
10. History
11. Cities and Towns



























Open the online Arabic language course






Open map of TunisiaFlag of TunisiaTunisia /
History



Historical periods
1. Pre-History
2. Phoenicians and Carthage
3. Roman Era
4. Vandal Kingdom
5. Byzantine province
6. Arab invasion and Islam
7. Aghlabid Dynasty
8. Fatimid Dynasty
9. Zirid Dynasty and the Banu Hillal
10. Norman invasions
11. Golden age
12. Ottoman era and Piracy
13. French protectorate
14. Independence and Bourguiba
15. Ben Ali and modernization

Pre-history
Traces of hominids as far back in time as 1 million years. 50,000 years ago Homo Sapiens were dominating in North Africa. 10,000 years ago it is believed that a people now referred to as proto-Hamites arrived, coming from western Asia. This people is believed to have spoken a language close to the language of Ancient Egypt. Around Tunisia, people were living in caves, and survived from hunting and gathering.
Around 2000 BCE: Introduction of metals from Sicily, and with this Tunisia entered the Bronze Age.

Phoenicians and Carthage
1100 BCE: The first arrival of Phoenicians in Tunisia. They founded trading posts, which would aid them in trading in the Mediterranean market, stretching from the Levant to Spain.
814 BCE: Carthage is founded by Phoenician traders. The cultures around Carthage were relatively primitive, and offered little threat to the colonists. The Phoenicians established more trading posts, like Bizerte, Utica and Sousse.
7th century BCE: Arrival of Greek traders, who represented a serious threat to the Phoenicians and their position in the Mediterranean basin. This had as a result that the independent Phoenician cities in Tunisia joined forces, and Carthage became the leader among them.
480 BCE: The Phoencian-Greek battle of Himera in Sicily, which had the Greeks as victors, resulted in Carthage becoming more independent from the Phoenician homeland.
396 BCE: New defeat in Sicily for Carthage, against the Greeks. Carthage was even more weakened by domestic rebellion.
310 BCE: Greek invasion, resulting in 3 years of heavy destruction of a large area that included Carthage.
263 BCE: Start of the Punic Wars, where the still insignificant Rome fought against Carthage.

Roman Era
146 BCE: With the end of the Third Punic War, Carthage is destroyed, and set under Roman control. Gradually a colonization started, and Carthage was rebuilt according to Roman drafts.
112 BCE: With the killing of Romans in Cirta (now Constantine) by Jugurtha, the Romans started to get more involved in Africa.
105 BCE: Jugurtha is defeated, and Roman veterans settle in the region. The colony was named Africa Proconsularis, and included most of today's Tunisia and Tripolitania in today's Libya.
44 BCE: Carthage is rebuilt as a grand Roman city. A time of strong economic growth starts, and northern Africa becomes one of the most stable regions in the Roman Empire. Agriculture with grain and later olive oil, was the main economic base for the region, with exports to Rome making it invaluable for the empire. Northern Africa became more and more important for the political life of Rome as well, with many central figures with their origin in the region. Most of the inhabitants in the Roman cities, were of North African origin. Later, with Christianity, many religious schisms had their origins here as well.
312 CE: The Roman Empire becomes officially Christian, but there is resistance among the North Africans, who have chosen the Donatist direction of Christianity.

Vandal kingdom
439: The Vandals take control over the region, much aided by local Donatist Christians, and for about a century Tunisia was the central region in a kingdom that included today's north-western Libya, northern Algeria, parts of northeastern Morocco, Sardinia, and Corsica. The period of the Vandals brought little cultural achievements and progress, and resulted in heavy destruction of many buildings and artifacts from the Roman centuries.
477: With the death of King Genseric, the decline of the Vandal kingdom starts.

Byzantine province
533: The Byzantines conquers the region, and put it under their control. The Byzantine general Belisarius meets little resistance from both the locals and the rulers. The province is known as at this period known as Numidia.
646: Numidia is declared independent from Byzantine, by Prefect Gregory.

Arab invasion and Islam
647: Arab invaders kill Prefect Gregory at Sbeitla.
670: Kairouan is established as capital of the regional administration. The Arabs were still facing strong resistance from the Berber tribes, which in many cases chose the Khariji Islam, an orientation considered as heretical by the Sunni Muslims.
698: Carthage is conquered by a Muslim Egyptian army, ending the Roman and Christian rule in North Africa.
757: Berber troops conquers Kairouan.
761: The Arabs reconquers Kairouan, and the Berbers are driven to the south of Tunisia, where they establish an independent Berber state.

Aghlabid Dynasty
800: Rise of the Aghlabid Dynasty. Ibrahim Ibn Aghlab declares himself governor, and the relative independence of Tunisia was accepted by the Caliph Harunu r-Rashid.
827: Invasion of Sicily, where after the island would remain on Arab hands for about 250 years.
846: Arab raid on Rome.

Fatimid Dynasty
909: The Aghlabids are replaced by the Fatimids, a dynasty based on Isma'ili Shi'i Islam, when Ubayd allah Sa'id declared himself Mahdi. The Fatimids established Mahdia as their capital. During the Fatimids, there were several attacks on Sunni Islam and its defenders in Tunisia.
914: Fatimid campaign against Egypt starts, led by Obaydallah.
944: Mahdia besieged by Kharijis, led by Abu Yazid.
945: Kairouan besieged by the Kharijis.
947: The Khariji rebellion crushed.
961: Fatimid ruler, Al-Mu'izz, conquers Egypt. From this time on there was a dramatic decline in Fatimid political presence in Tunisia.

Zirid Dynasty and the Banu Hillal
977: The Zirid dynasty is established.
984: The Zirids break their allegiance to the Fatimids. The Fatimids, now in Egypt, send the Banu Hillal tribe into Tunisia. This influx, continuing for decades, involved an immigration of 200,000-300,000 Bedouins into North Africa. This influx had strong negative effect on the cultures of North Africa, involving both destruction of urban and rural cultures. The Banu Hillal immigration forced the Zirids to leave cities like Tunis, Sfax, Gabes and Gafsa, and to settle along the coast, with Mahdia as their centre.
1072: The Normans take control over Sicily.

Norman invasions
1135: Jerba comes under Norman control.
1148: When Mahdia is conquered, the Normans bring an end to the Zirid dynasty.
1159: Almohads conquer Tunis.
1160: Mahdia comes under Almohad control, and central Tunisia is with this governed from Marrakech.
End of 12th century: Almohads establishes themselves in Tunisia under the leadership of Ibn Ghaniyya.
1207: After establishing control over Tunisia, the Almohads put it under control of the Hafsid family.

Golden age
1229: The Hafsids declare independence from the Marrakech-stationed Almohads, after the latter rejected the teachings of the Muslim scholar Ibn Tumart.
Middle 13th century: Tunisia enters a golden age of culture and architecture, with Tunis as capital and cultural centre.
1270: A French invasion of Tunisia is averted.
Late 15th century: A large influx of Muslim and Jewish refugees from Spain, bringing both knowledge, skills and cultural impulses to Tunisia with an impact that would last until modern times.
Around 1280: After the death of Sultan al-Mustansir (1277), Tunisia divides into small city states.
1370: Tunisia becomes reunited, as the sultan of Bougie, Abu al-Abbas takes control over Tunis and the other city states.

Ottoman era and Piracy
1534: Khayr ed-Din (known in Europe as Barbarossa from his red beard) captures Tunis, but only managed to stay here for a few years, as he eventually became expelled by the Spanish.
1574: Tunisia is conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who controls Tunisia through local rulers, known as dey.
1705: As Husayn ibn Ali takes power in Tunisia, the title of the ruler changes from dey to bey. His rule brings prosperity and more autonomy from the Ottomans.
1801: USA starts its actions against the organized piracy staged from Tunisia. They attacked by corsary bases, including Tunis.
1815: End of US actions against Tunisia, following the seize of piracy.

French protectorate
1878: At the congress of Berlin, Britain and France decides to divide their interests: Britain can claim Cyprus, and France Tunisia.
1881 May 12: The Bardo Treaty is signed, where Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.
1883: Convention of Marsa, which includes more details to how Tunisia is to be governed.
1884: The French resident-general becomes the actual ruler of Tunisia, at the cost of the bey.
1920: Several nationalist groups formed the Destour Party, which called for extensive democratic reforms of Tunisia.
1925: The Destour Party is disbanded by the French authorities.
1934: The Neo-Destour Party is formed by Habib Bourguiba.
1942 November: The Germans land troops in Tunisia, in order to resist the Allied forces which at first have established themselves in Algeria and Morocco.
1943 May 12: The Germans capitulate against the Allied forces.
May 15: Control over Tunisia is transferred to the Free French. The French arrest hundreds of Tunisians who were accused of having cooperated with the Tunisians, as well as deposing the bey.

Independence and Bourguiba
1946: Tunisia gets the status of being a semi-autonomous associated state in the French Union.
1947 August: The French appoints a ministry that is dominated by Tunisian officials.
1949 September: After having been forced into exile in 1945, Bourguiba can return to Tunisia to promote his ideology of Tunisian independence.
1952: Tunisian ministers try to make the UN Security Council to rule against French rule over Tunisia, but the UN regards the situation in Tunisia as a domestic political question.
1954: In an attempt to curb riots and political demonstrations, the French introduces limited reforms that favours the Tunisians.
August: French premier minister Pierre Mendès-France promises full internal autonomy under the rule of Tunisians.
1955 June 3: A series of conventions and protocols are signed by Tunisian premier minister Tahar ibn Ammar and French premier minister Edgar Faure. These gave Tunisia a high degree of self-rule.
September 17: A government with only Tunisian members is installed.
1956 March 20: More independence is given to Tunisia with a new protocol signed in Paris. With this protocol the Bardo Treaty of 1881 is abrogated, and Tunisia is consequently an independent nation.
March 25: National legislative elections, which gave the Neo-Destour Party a decisive victory.
April 8: Bourguiba is elected president of the first Tunisian National Assembly.
April 11: Bourguiba is elected premier minister.
November 12: Tunisia is admitted to the UN:
1957 May 5: The Neo-Destour Party gets 90% of the votes in several municipal elections. For the first time, women were allowed to vote in these.
July 25: Tunisia becomes a republic, as the National Assembly deposes the bey. Habib Bourguiba becomes the new republic's first president.
Second half of the year: There are several clashes between French and Tunisian troops along the Tunisian-Algerian border. French troops are accused of crossing into Tunisia.
1958 February 7: French planes cross into Tunisia, and are shot at by Tunisian artillery.
February 8: French military planes bombs the Tunisian village of Sekiet Sidi Youssef, where 68 persons are killed.
October: Tunisia joins the Arab League on the 1., but breaks all diplomatic relations with Egypt on the 15. Tunisia leaves the league in November.
1959 June 1: A new constitution is promulgated.
November 8: Elections where Bourguiba is elected president, without any opposing candidates. The Neo-Destour Party wins all seats in the parliament. Few in the national opposition and in the outside world regarded these elections to have been fair and free.
1961 July 19: After that Tunisia has demanded that France leave their naval base at Bizerte, their troops siege the base. France responded, and fights broke out. Within 2 days 1,300 Tunisians are killed.
1963: Border disputes with Algeria are settled.
October: France withdraws completely from Bizerte, following long discussions between the two countries.
1964 May: About 3,000 km² of foreign owned lands are expropriated by the National Assembly. This mainly affected French families, and France responded by stopping all financial assistance to Tunisia.
— Tunisian politics shift more in a socialist direction. This is reflected in the name change of the Neo-Destour Party into Destour Socialist Party.
1975: Bourguiba is appointed president for life by the National Assembly.
1985: Libya expels 30,000 Tunisian workers, something that severed the relations between the two countries.

Ben Ali and modernization
1987 November 7: In a coup Bourguiba is removed as president, and replaced by his fresh prime minister Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
1998: An agreement with the European Union brings Tunisia into a close cooperation with Europe in economy and security.
1999 October 24: Presidential elections, where President Ben Ali has allowed to contesting candidates to run. According to the official figures, Ben Ali receives 99.44% of the votes, the two others sharing the remainder between them. Same-day parliamentary elections give the ruling RDC 91.6% of the votes and all contested seats. Of a total 182 seats, the opposition receives by law 34 seats. MDS gets 13 seats, UDU 7, PUP 7, MR-Ettajdid 5 and Parti social libéral 2.
2002 May: Changes in the constitution allows a president to stay in power until the age of 75 (70 before) and be reelected unlimited times (3 times before, Ben Ali had at this time been reelected the three times).
2004 October 24: Ben Ali is reelected president, receiving 94.5% of the votes. Mohamed Bouchiha gets 3.8%, Mohamed Ali Halouani 1%.




By Tore Kjeilen