Tunisia is an African nation found on the northern part of the continent. The Tunisian economy is considered one of the top economies in the region with a GDP of $41.662 billion in 2018. The success of the Tunisian economy can be attributed to the proper utilization of the country's natural resources as well as the economic policies put in place by the Tunisian government. Some of Tunisia's most important natural resources include the country's beautiful scenery, petroleum, and arable land among others.
One of Tunisia's most important natural resources is its beautiful scenery which attracts large numbers of tourists to the country. Some of the most beautiful areas in Tunisia are the beaches located in several areas such as Djerba, Sousse, and Monastir. The beaches on Djerba are considered the best in the entire country. Tourists are also attracted to Tunisia by a large number of historical sites in the country such as the city of Carthage and the Amphitheatre of El Jem. The Tunisian government estimated that more than 8 million tourists visited the country each year making Tunisia one of the most popular destinations on the continent.
In 2014, arable land made up roughly 18.7% of Tunisia's total land area according to data from the World Bank. The data also indicated that the size of arable land in the country increased steadily from 2010 to 2014. Agriculture is one of Tunisia's most essential industries as it contributed 11% of the country's GDP in 2009. The Tunisian labor department estimated that in 2009 roughly 8.3% of the country's labor force was employed in the agricultural sector. Farmers in Tunisia grow a wide variety of crops such as olives, tomatoes, and citrus fruits among others.
One of Tunisia's most important crops is olives with the country being considered one of the significant olive producers in the world. According to data from the Tunisian government, olives are grown on more than 30% of the country's agricultural land. Most of the olive farms are situated in the northern section of the country with data showing that on average there are 100 olive trees per hectare in the region. The Tunisian government indicated that the state had at least 60 million olive trees which were the fourth-highest number of olive trees in the world. The Tunisian labor department estimated that more than 1 million people were employed in the olive industry. Most of Tunisia's olives were used to make olive oil which is one of Tunisia's major export items. In 2003, Tunisia produced 280,000 tons of olive oil which was a significant increase from the previous year's production.
One of Tunisia's most important natural resources is crude oil as the country has significant reserves of the substance. The Tunisian government owns the country's crude oil and grants licenses to companies to explore and extract the commodity. Exploration for Tunisia's crude oil began during the mid-20th century and the first commercial oil production took place in 1964. Oil exploration in Tunisia reached its peak in 1981 when more than 30 oil wells were drilled. For much of the 1980s, Tunisia produced about 1,000 barrels of oil each day. In the 21st century, several major companies have invested in Tunisia's oil industry such as Total and Shell. Tunisia has several massive onshore oil fields with the largest being the Sidi el Kilani field which is found in the country's northern section.
Tunisia also has vast deposits of natural gas that are vital to the country's economic development. In Tunisia, natural gas was initially produced in 1948 at the Abderrahman structure. Tunisia's most important natural gas field, the Miskar gas field was identified in 1975 by Elf, but the ownership of the field later transferred to British Gas. Surveys by British Gas indicated that the gas reserves in the field are approximately 1.5 trillion cubic feet. In 2005, the field produced more than 200 million cubic feet of natural gas which was enough to satisfy almost half of Tunisia's natural gas requirements.
Tunisia has vast fish reserves which are some of the country’s most important natural resources. Most of the fishing that takes place in Tunisia is carried out in the Mediterranean Sea that borders the country on its eastern and northern edges. In 2004, Tunisian fishers caught 102 tons of fish which was a significant increase from the amount of fish caught in the previous years. The fishing sector is one of the most critical sectors in the country as it contributed 1.4% of the country's GDP on average. Despite the enormous potential of Tunisia's aquaculture industry, it has developed at a slow rate.
Problems Facing Tunisia
One of the major challenges facing the Tunisian economy is the high levels of corruption particularly among government officials which discourage investment in the country. The high rates of unemployment and poverty are also major challenges facing the Tunisian economy.