What Should I Know About Tunisia?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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The Tunisian Republic, usually known simply as Tunisia, is a small country located in Northern Africa. Tunisia shares borders with Algeria, Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea on the Northeast. Tunisia covers a total surface of 63,170 sq mi (163,610 kmĀ²) and had a total population of 10,102,000 in 2006.

More than forty percent of the territory of Tunisia falls into the Saharan desert, which means that only about half of the country is actually usable terrain. A large coastline allows Tunisia to benefit from international trade and port revenues. The capital of Tunisia is Tunis, a city that has been around since the 2nd millennium BCE.

Tunisia boasts an impressive demographic heritage, a result of centuries of invasions from civilizations as diverse as the Phoenicians, the Spanish Moors, and indigenous Berbers. Ninety eight percent of the population is Muslim, with a Christian and Jewish minority.

Tunisia belonged to France until well into the 20th century. Independence was only achieved in 1956 after much controversy, civil unrest, and pleas. The president as of 2007, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, had been in power since 1987, chosen by popular vote five times. The prime minister, legislative cabinet, and regional governors are all appointed directly by the president. Since there is only one major political party, the one in power, there is little opposition to government decisions, and little, if anything, disagreement regarding executive bills.


Tunisia produces numerous agricultural products for exportation, such as olives, citrus fruit, and sugar beets. Tourism is also an important source of revenue, since Tunisia has an impressive mix of desert geography, historical constructions, and coastlines featuring clean beaches, ancient ports, and prehistorical cave dwellings. Tourist complexes abound in Tunisia, many of which cater to affluent foreign visitors wishing to take advantage of Tunisia's hot weather and unique towns. The geography of Tunisia is so unique that it has become a popular filming area. All of the scenes from Star Wars featuring the planet Tatooine were filmed in Tunisia. Other films, like Indiana Jones' Raiders of the Lost Ark and The English Patient have also been partially filmed in the Tunisian desert.


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