The Tunisian Republic
Arabic: (OFFICIAL:) ‘al-jumhūriyyatu t-tūnisiyya
Arabic: (SHORT:) tūnis
Independent republic in North Africa with 10.5 million inhabitants (2009 estimate) and an area of 163,610 kmē. The capital is Tunis, which is also the largest city, and the country is divided into 23 main administrative unites, known as governorates.
Tunisia is technically a democracy, but political freedom is limited, and many political orientations have no chance in participating in elections. Tunisia is today a very stable society, with a high level of personal security. The price for this is the suppression of extremist groups, like Islamists and to some extent, Communists.
The head of state is interim President Fouad Mebazaa, in office since 2011. Prime minister since 1999 is Mohamed Ghannouchi. The government consists of 25 ministries.
Tunisia does not perform too well on the Human Development Index where it comes in as no. 98 of the 182 states that are ranked in the world. On a scale with 1 as maximum, Tunisia gains 0.769 points.
The currency of Tunisia is the dinar (TND), divided to 1000 millimes. It is semi-convertible, and has since long been a stable currency.
Tunisia’s GDP per capita is fairly good at US$7,900 (2008 estimate), but this is still 25% below world average. Unemployment is somewhat high with 14%, but Tunisia does remarkably well considering GDP with only 7% of its population below the poverty line.
Tunisia has one of the best health situations in North Africa, and a relatively high life expectancy.
The education system of Tunisia is an indicator that the many fine achievements the country has seen in recent decades will not be followed by a new boost. Tunisia is ranked lower for education than one might expect.
Tunisia has seen heavy assimilation, mainly of Berbers. The official line of cultural unity seems to succeed in creating one nation.
Language is a central instrument in unity, and as mentioned above, Tunisian government aims at unity. Tunisia is the North African country where Berber language has come closest to extinction.
Technically all Tunisians are Sunni Muslims; in the very south there are small pockets of Jews and Ibadi Muslims.
Demographic trends of Tunisia are presently close to those of Western Europa. Although there still is population growth, this is destined to fall in coming years.
Tunisia’s history is rich and fascinating. Carthage represents perhaps the proudest period of national history, but the country is also home to the alleged first minaret ever built. Modern Tunisian history is pragmatic and knowledge of it is a great source to understand the potential of a modern Muslim society.
Major cities & towns
List of Cites and Towns
By Tore Kjeilen