Tunisia is the smallest country in During the Arab era, the Great Mosque of Kairouan was constructed (in 670 AD) and is the oldest standing minaret in the world, as well as the most ancient and prestigious sanctuary in the Muslim West.
Extensive irrigation systems were built which enabled a luxurious court life, allowing future dynasties to thrive.
However, the region began to decline around the 12th century, and in the late 16th century the coastline became a pirate stronghold.
In 1534, under the command of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, the first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place. Permanent acquisition of Tunisia occurred in 1574, under Kapudan Pasha Uluc Ali Reis, and the Ottomans retained the region until In 1987, Bourguiba was declared medically unfit to continue as president and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was his successor. He has won every election since 1987, including his fifth term at the 2009 elections.
Although the parliament has passed laws that make Tunisia appear democratic, according to Amnesty International, "the Tunisian government is misleading the world as it conveys a positive image of the human rights situation in the country while abuses by its security forces continue unabated and are committed with impunity".
Ben Ali has diminished freedom of press, political pluralism and censorship is severe. Reporters without borders have included Tunisia in the country listing of "enemies of the internet."
On December 17, 2010, a 26-year old street vendor set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official - an act that ultimately jump started the Tunisian revolution. Anger and violence culminated into mass protests of the social and political issues in the country.
Africa and has attracted international companies such as Airbus and Hewlett-Packard.
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