Tunisia, officially known as the Republic of Tunisia, is the smallest country in North Africa. It is located along the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Algeria and Libya. Tunisia is known to be the northern most country in Africa. It may just be a slim wedge of the vast expanses of North Africa, but Tunisia has a rich history, diverse natural beauty with sand-fringed coastlines, extensive deserts, and classic Arab cuisines.
The history of Tunisia dates back to the Phoenicians who founded Carthage and other North Africa settlements in the 8th century. Carthage became an important sea power, though it was in constant fights with Rome over the control of the Mediterranean Sea. The Arab conquest in the 15th century transformed Tunisia and its population. A subsequent wave of migration hit Tunisia from Arab and Ottoman, which increased the population of Spanish Muslims and Jews. Tunisia became a center of Arab culture, which was assimilated in the learning process making it the dominant culture in the country. Tunisia became a French protectorate in 1881 until it gained independence in 1956. The country still maintains strong economic ties with France and other countries in the European Union.
Tunisia is Africa’s innermost country located on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. The country rests on 163,610 sq km of land making it the 94th largest country in the world. Most of the country’s topography varies with the regions. The North is mostly mountainous from the ranges of the Atlas Mountains while the centre is covered in plain dry land. The southern part of the county is a blanket of the world’s third largest desert, the Sahara. Tunisia has a temperate climate comprising of dry summers and mild wet winters which get to extremes in the interior.
The country has an estimated population of 11.1 million people, comprising of mixed Arabs and Berbers. 98% of the population is Arabs, while 1% comprises of the Berber who live in the Dahar Mountains and the Djerba Island. The other 1% comprises of the minority Jews who occupy the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia is sparsely populated with 63 people per 163 sq mi, which ranks the country as 133rd in the world based on the population distribution. The majority of the people live in the cities with the capital, Tunis, being the most populated followed by Sfax. The government of Tunisia has implemented strict family planning policies to reduce population growth in the country.
With an annual GDP of $131 million, Tunisia is the 87th richest country in the world. The country’s growing economy is supported by the expansive agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service industries. The main industries comprise of petroleum, textile, footwear, agribusiness, beverage, and mining of iron ore and phosphate, all of which are exported which generates income for the country. For over twenty years, Tunisia has been experiencing a constant growth rate of 5% and the government is in the process of liberalizing and privatizing the economy to make it more competitive on the global spectrum.
Tunisia has a highly diverse culture following the long period under Ottoman and the French. Arabic culture and tradition are widely spread in Tunisia. Although it is a Muslim country, the president has made Tunisia a liberal and tolerant Muslim society where women have the right to work, do business, and can choose to wear scarves or not. Arabic is the official language in Tunisia with French being the second language. English, German, and Italian are also widely spoken in the country, specifically in tourist resorts and destinations.
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