The overwhelming majority of the population
is Muslim, and the official religion is Sunni
Islam. Christian and Jewish communities practice
their faith freely and contribute to Tunisia's
rich cultural diversity.
Tunisia's population is over 62% urban. Tunis,
the capital, with a population of about 1 million,
is one of the principal cosmopolitan urban centers
of the Mediterranean. Other cities in Tunisia
include Carthage, Jerba, Hammamet, Sfax, Nabeul,
Kairouan, Sousse, Bizerte, Jendouba, Medenine,
Monastir, Gabes, Gafsa, Tabarka, Zarzis, Beja,
Kasserine and Le Kef.
The official language is Arabic; French is widely
used. English is spoken among a growing number
of Tunisians. Many also speak Italian.
The family remains the basic unit of Tunisian
society . With the assistance of public and private
institutions, it continues to function as a vital
support mechanism for the individual at all stages
of life. Enjoying total equality of rights with
men, women have gained a good measure of autonomy
and are able to pursue their own careers on an
equal footing with men.
The structure of Tunisian society is characterized
by the predominance of the middle class (around
75 to 80% of the population). There has been a
continuous rise in the standard of living of Tunisia's
citizens thanks to sound development policies
and to the implementation, since 1987, of a series
of measures and actions which have promoted business
initiative and economic opportunity, and ensured
the access of all citizens to basic amenities.
Nationality: noun: Tunisian(s)
Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European
1%, Jewish and other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian
1%, Jewish and other 1%
Languages: The official language
is Arabic. French is the second language, Italian
is spoken in major cities, and English and German
mainly in tourist resorts.
Literacy: definition: age 15
and over can read and write
total population: 74.2%
female: 64.4% (2003 est.)
The Republic of Tunisia lies on the Mediterranean
coast of Africa, 130km (80 miles) southwest
of Sicily and 160km (100 miles) due south
of Sardinia. It is bordered by Algeria to
the west and Libya to the southeast. The
landscape varies from the cliffs of the
north coast to the woodlands of the interior,
from deep valleys of rich arable land to
desert, and from towering mountains to salt
pans lower than sea level. South of Gafsa
and Gabès is the Sahara desert. The
1100km (700 miles) of coastline is dotted
with small islands, notably Jerba in the
south and Kerkennah in the east, and from
the northwest to the southeast the coastline
is backed successively by pine-clad hills,
lush pasture, orchards, vineyards and olive
bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between
Algeria and Libya
Area: total: 163,610 sq
water: 8,250 sq km
land: 155,360 sq km
Climate: temperate in
north with mild, rainy winters and hot,
dry summers; desert in south
Tunisia Another Side of the Mediterranean - Video
A Beautiful Video Showing the Best of Tunisia
From Tunisia Tourism, http://www.Tunisia-Tourism.org
Under the 1959 constitution, legislation
is the responsibility of the unicameral
Chamber of Deputies, whose 163 members are
elected by universal adult suffrage for
5 years. All but 19 seats, which are reserved
for opposition parties under a system of
proportional representation, are elected
under a simple majority system. The president,
who is also elected by universal suffrage
for a 5-year term, is Head of State and
appoints a Prime Minister and Council of
Ministers who exercise executive power under
his leadership. There are also various advisory
bodies – the State Council, the Social
and Economic Council, the Constitutional
Council and the Higher Islamic Council.
It has been said that the most important driving
force in a nation’s fortunes is its culture.
Without a strong grounding in culture, a nation
is like a stricken ship, pushed and pulled hither
and thither by prevailing currents and winds.
This has been the unfortunate fate of many developing
countries which, having forgotten where they came
from, now drift aimlessly on the vast cultural
oceans of the world.
On the African continent, where the cultural
crisis is most acute, Tunisia and Egypt are the
rare exceptions. Both have very deep histories
and both have worked tirelessly to keep their
histories as fresh as possible. But culture is
not only about ancient history; it is the story
of how people adapt and change as events around
them change. It is about evolution and unbroken
Well aware of the enormous resources that European
countries and the US pour into their own cultural
spheres, Tunisia has embarked on a unified national
strategy to maintain and deepen its cultural identity.
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has decided
that over the next four years to 2004, a full
one percent of GDP will go to culture. The annual
budget for culture is expected to grow from $45m
in 1999 to $140m in 2004. Budgetary allocation
is as follows: Cultural exhibitions (24%); museums
and institutions (20%); cinema (14%); literature
(14%), theatre (9%) and poetry (4%).
Despite all its economic and social successes,
Tunisia has never taken its eye off the vital
importance of culture in the grand scheme of things.
“Culture provides us with our values and
identity,” says Abdelbaki Hermassi, Tunisia’s
Minister of Culture. “It enables us to cope
with the many challenges and changes occurring
as we expand our relationships with the European
Telephone: Full IDD is available.
Country code: 216. Outgoing international code:
00. Automatic dialling extends to almost every
part of the country and covers direct international
Mobile Telephone: GSM 900 network.
Operators include Tunisiana (website: www.orascomtunisie.com)
and Tunisie Telecom.
Fax: Facilities are available
in main towns, hotels and post offices.
Internet: ISPs include 3S Global
Net (website: www.gnet.tn), ATI (website: www.ati.tn)
and Planet Tunisie (website: www.planet.tn). E-mail
can be accessed from Internet cafes in Tunis,
Nabeul, Sousse and Tahar ben Amar.
Telegram: The Telecommunications
Centre in Tunis is located at 29 Jamal Abdelnasser.
Telegraph facilities are available at the Central
Post Office at rue Charles de Gaulle, Tunis; telegrams
can also be sent from most hotels.
Post: Airmail to Europe takes
3 to 5 days; an express service guarantees delivery
in 4 days or under. Poste Restante facilities
are available in main cities. Post office hours:
Mon-Sat 0800-1300 (summer, approximately 15 Jun-15
Sep); Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1800, Sat 0800-1200
(winter, approximately 16 Sep-14 Jun); Mon-Sat
0800-1500 (during Ramadan).
Press: Daily newspapers are
printed in Arabic or French, the most popular
being As-Sabah and La Presse de Tunisie. The weekly
Tunisia News is published in English.
Radio: BBC World Service (website:
www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice) and Voice of America
(website: www.voa.gov) can be received. From time
to time the frequencies change and the most up-to-date
can be found online.