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Tunisia    Introduction Top of Page
Background: Following independence from France in 1956, President Habib BOURGIUBA established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to diffuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
Tunisia    Geography Top of Page
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total:  163,610 sq km

land:  155,360 sq km

water:  8,250 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
Land boundaries: total:  1,424 km

border countries:  Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
Coastline: 1,148 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone:  24 NM

territorial sea:  12 NM
Climate: temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south
Terrain: mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara
Elevation extremes: lowest point:  Shatt al Gharsah -17 m

highest point:  Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
Land use: arable land:  19%

permanent crops:  13%

permanent pastures:  20%

forests and woodland:  4%

other:  44% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 3,850 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: NA
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; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Tunisia    People Top of Page
Population: 9,705,102 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  28.74% (male 1,440,636; female 1,348,133)

15-64 years:  65.12% (male 3,157,988; female 3,161,596)

65 years and over:  6.14% (male 296,930; female 299,819) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.15% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 17.11 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 4.99 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 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:  0.99 male(s)/female

total population:  1.02 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 29.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population:  73.92 years

male:  72.35 years

female:  75.62 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.99 children born/woman (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.04% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: 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)
Literacy: definition:  age 15 and over can read and write

total population:  66.7%

male:  78.6%

female:  54.6% (1995 est.)
Tunisia    Government Top of Page
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
Capital: Tunis
Administrative divisions: 23 governorates; Ariana (Aryanah), Beja (Bajah), Ben Arous (Bin 'Arus), Bizerte (Banzart), El Kef (Al Kaf), Gabes (Qabis), Gafsa (Qafsah), Jendouba (Jundubah), Kairouan (Al Qayrawan), Kasserine (Al Qasrayn), Kebili (Qibili), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bou Zid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)
Independence: 20 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday: Independence 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 Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since 17 November 1999)

cabinet:  Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections:  president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); prime minister appointed by the president

election results:  President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a third term without opposition; percent of vote - Zine El Abidine BEN ALI nearly 100%
Legislative branch: unicameral Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (182 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections:  last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)

election results:  percent of vote by party - RCD 92%; seats by party - RCD 148, MDS 13, UDU 7, PUP 7, Al-Tajdid 5, PSL 2; note - reforms enabled opposition parties to win up to 20% of seats; the opposition increased number of seats from 19 to 34
Judicial branch: Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders: Al-Tajdid Movement [Adel CHAOUCH]; Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique) or RCD [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (official ruling party)]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mounir BEJI]; Movement of Democratic Socialists or MDS [Khamis CHAMMARI]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed Belhaj AMOR]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Abderrahmane TLILI]
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, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OAU, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Hatem ATALLAH

chancery:  1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005

telephone:  [1] (202) 862-1850
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Rust DEMMING

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
Tunisia    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Real growth averaged 5.5% in the past four years, and inflation is slowing. Growth in tourism and increased trade have been key elements in this steady growth. 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. Broader privatization, further liberalization of the investment code to increase foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the challenges for the future.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $62.8 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $6,500 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  14%

industry:  32%

services:  54% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: 6% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  2.3%

highest 10%:  30.7% (1990)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 2.65 million (2000 est.)

note:  shortage of skilled labor
Labor force - by occupation: services 55%, industry 23%, agriculture 22% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15.6% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues:  $7.5 billion

expenditures:  $8.1 billion, including capital expenditures to $1.6 billion (2000 est.)
Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, food, beverages
Industrial production growth rate: 4.1% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 9.173 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  99.2%

hydro:  0.8%

nuclear:  0%

other:  0% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 8.677 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 19 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 165 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: olives, olive oil, grain, dairy products, tomatoes, citrus fruit, beef, sugar beets, dates, almonds
Exports: $6.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: textiles, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, agricultural products, hydrocarbons
Exports - partners: Germany 28%, France 22%, Italy 17%, Belgium 5%, Libya 4% (1999)
Imports: $8.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, food
Imports - partners: France 23%, Germany 23%, Italy 15%, Belgium 3% (1999)
Debt - external: $13 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $933.2 million (1995); note - ODA, $90 million (1998 est.)
Currency: Tunisian dinar (TND)
Currency code: TND
Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars per US dollar - 1.3753 (January 2001), 1.4667 (November 2000), 1.1862 (1999), 1.1387 (1998), 1.1059 (1997), 0.9734 (1996)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Tunisia    Communications Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use: 654,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 50,000 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment:  above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; Internet access available

domestic:  trunk facilities consist of open-wire lines, coaxial cable, and microwave radio relay

international:  5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; two international gateway digital switches
Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 20, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 2.06 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 920,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tn
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 110,000 (2000)
Tunisia    Transportation Top of Page
Railways: total:  2,168 km

standard gauge:  471 km 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge:  1,687 km 1.000-m gauge

dual gauge:  10 km 1.000-m and 1.435-m gauges (three rails)
Highways: total:  23,100 km

paved:  18,226 km

unpaved:  4,874 km (1996)
Waterways: none
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:  15 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 149,554 GRT/156,861 DWT

ships by type:  bulk 2, cargo 4, chemical tanker 3, liquefied gas 1, petroleum tanker 1, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 1 (2000 est.)
Airports: 32 (2000 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 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total:  17

1,524 to 2,437 m:  2

914 to 1,523 m:  8

under 914 m:  7 (2000 est.)
Tunisia    Military Top of Page
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary forces, National Guard
Military manpower - military age: 20 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  2,739,566 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  1,561,484 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  105,146 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $356 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.5% (FY99)
Tunisia    Transnational Issues Top of Page
Disputes - international: none