General information: After independence in 1956 (until 1956 – protectorate of France) President Habib Bourguiba (Habib BOURGIU-BA) established a rigid one-party rule. He ruled the country for 31 years, suppressing the activities of Islamic fundamentalists and providing the female part of the population with rights unprecedented in the Arab world. In recent years, Tunisia has been pursuing a moderate policy of non-alignment in relations with foreign countries. The authorities have to reckon with growing domestic demands for greater political openness.
Location: North Africa, Mediterranean coast between Algiers and Libya.
Geographical coordinates: 34° 00′ N. latitude, 9° 00′ E
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 163,610 km2; land surface area: 155,360 km2; water surface area: 8,250 km2
Comparative area: slightly larger than the state of Georgia.
Land borders: total length: 1,424 km; with neighboring states: with Algeria 965 km, with Libya 459 km.
Coastline: 1,148 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: temperate in north, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; deserted in the south.
Terrain: mountains in the north; the hot, dry central plain in the south turns into the Sahara desert.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Chott el-Gharsa basin -17 m. highest point: Jabal al-Shanabi 1,544 m.
Natural resources: oil, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt.
Land use: arable land: 19%; cultivated land: 13%;. pastures: 20%; forests and plantations: 4%; others: 44% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 3,850 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: no data available.
Current environmental issues: threat to public health due to inefficient methods of disposal of toxic and hazardous waste; pollution of water with sewage; limited supplies of drinking water; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Pollution, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands. signed but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation. Geography note: strategic location in the central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are in dispute over the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between them, mainly the development of oil fields.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 9,705,102 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 28.74% (male 1,440,636; female 1,348,133); 15 to 64 years old: 65.12% (male 3,157,988; female 3,161,596); over 65: 6.14% (male 296,930; female 299,819) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.15% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 17.11 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 4.99 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -0.67 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male/female; up to 15 years: 1.07 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 1 male/female; over 65: 0.99 male/female; for the general population: 1.02 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 29.04 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 73.92 years; men: 72.35 years; women: 75.62 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 1.99 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.04% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Tunisian; adjective: Tunisian.
Ethnic groups: Arabs 98%, Europeans 1%, Jews and others 1%.
Believers: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%,
Language(s): Arabic (official and one of the languages in which trade negotiations are conducted), French (language of trade negotiations).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 66.7%; men: 78.6%; women: 54.6% (1995 est.).
Conventional long form: Republic of Tunisia
conventional short form: Tunisia; local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah; local short form: Tunis
State structure: republic. See politicsezine.com to know more about Tunisia Political System.
Administrative division: 23 provinces: Arya-na, Baja, Bizerte, Ben-Arus, Gabes, Gafsa, Jun-duba, Zaguan, Kairouan, Kasserine, Kef, Kibili, Mahdia, Medenine, Munastir, Nabeul, Sfax, Sidi Bou- Zaid, Siliana, Sousse, Tatavin, Tauzar, Tunisia.
Independence: March 20, 1956 (until 1956 French protectorate).
National holiday: Independence Day, 20 March (since 1956).
Constitution: adopted June 1, 1959; amended July 12, 1988
Legal system: based on French civil law system and Islamic law; provides for judicial review of legislative acts at the general session of the Supreme Court.
Suffrage: from 20 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987);
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since 17 November 1999)
government: a council of ministers appointed by the president; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; elections last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held in 2004); the prime minister is appointed by the president; election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI re-elected for a third term without challenge; the percentage of votes received is almost 100%.
Legislature: unicameral House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwaab) (182 members elected by popular vote for a five-year term); elections: last held 24 October 1999 (next to be held in 2004); election results: distribution of votes by parties – RCD 92%; distribution of seats by parties – RCD 148, MDS 13, UDU 7, PUP 7, AI-Tajdid 5, PSL 2; note – reforms allowed opposition parties to win up to 20% of seats; the number of opposition seats increased from 19 to 34.
Judiciary: Court of Cassation.
Political parties and leaders: Al-Tajdid Movement (Adel CHAOUCH); Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (RCD) (BEN ALI [official ruling party]); Liberal Socialist Party (PSL) (Munir BEJI [Mounir VEL]); Movement of Democratic Socialists (MDS) (Khamis CHAMMARI); Popular Unity Party (PUP) (Mohamed Belhaj AMOR); Union Democratic Union (UDU) (Abderrahmane TLILI)
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Islamist fundamentalist party, Al-Nahda (Revival “), outlawed.
Participation in international organizations: ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, BSEC (observer), CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OAU, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Hatem ATALLAH; office: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005; phone:  (202) 862-1850.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Rust DEM-MING; embassy: 144 Avenue de la Liberte, 1002 Tunis-Belvedere; postal address: 144 Avenue de la Liberte, 1002 Tunis-Belvedere; phone:  (1) 782-566; fax:  (1) 789-719.
Description of the flag: red with a white circle in the center, which depicts a red crescent, almost completely surrounding the red five-pointed star; The crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam.