Libya: Truth, History, Knowledge Of This North African Country

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Libya

Introduction The Italians supplanted the Ottoman Turks from the area around Tripoli in 1911 and did not relinquish their hold until 1943 when defeated in World War II. Libya then passed to UN administration and achieved independence in 1951. Following a 1969 military coup, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-QADHAFI began to espouse his own political system, the Third Universal Theory. The system is a combination of socialism and Islam derived in part from tribal practices and is supposed to be implemented by the Libyan people themselves in a unique form of “direct democracy.” QADHAFI has always seen himself as a revolutionary and visionary leader. He used oil funds during the 1970s and 1980s to promote his ideology outside Libya, supporting subversives and terrorists abroad to hasten the end of Marxism and capitalism. In addition, beginning in 1973, he engaged in military operations in northern Chad’s Aozou Strip – to gain access to minerals and to use as a base of influence in Chadian politics – but was forced to retreat in 1987. UN sanctions in 1992 isolated QADHAFI politically following the downing of Pan AM Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. During the 1990s, QADHAFI began to rebuild his relationships with Europe. UN sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In December 2003, Libya announced that it had agreed to reveal and end its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism, and QADHAFI has made significant strides in normalizing relations with western nations since then. He has received various Western European leaders as well as many working-level and commercial delegations, and made his first trip to Western Europe in 15 years when he traveled to Brussels in April 2004. Libya has responded in good faith to legal cases brought against it in US courts for terrorist acts that predate its renunciation of violence. Claims for compensation in the Lockerbie bombing, LaBelle disco bombing, and UTA 772 bombing cases are ongoing. The US rescinded Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in June 2006. In late 2007, Libya was elected by the General Assembly to a nonpermanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-09 term.
History Archaeological evidence indicates that from as early as the 8th millennium BC, Libya’s coastal plain was inhabited by a Neolithic people who were skilled in the domestication of cattle and the cultivation of crops.[5] The area known in modern times as Libya was later occupied by a series of peoples, with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines ruling all or part of the area. Although the Greeks and Romans left ruins at Cyrene, Leptis Magna and Sabratha, little other evidence remains of these ancient cultures.

Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were the first to establish trading posts in Libya, when the merchants of Tyre (in present-day Lebanon) developed commercial relations with the Berber tribes and made treaties with them to ensure their cooperation in the exploitation of raw materials.[6][7] By the 5th century BC, Carthage, the greatest of the Phoenician colonies, had extended its hegemony across much of N.Africa, where a distinctive civilization, known as Punic, came into being. Punic settlements on the Libyan coast included Oea (Tripoli), Libdah (Leptis Magna) and Sabratha. All these were in an area that was later called Tripolis, or “Three Cities”. Libya’s current-day capital Tripoli takes its name from this.

Greeks

The Greeks conquered Eastern Libya when, according to tradition, emigrants from the crowded island of Thera were commanded by the oracle at Delphi to seek a new home in North Africa. In 630 BC, they founded the city of Cyrene.[8] Within 200 years, four more important Greek cities were established in the area: Barce (Al Marj); Euhesperides (later Berenice, present-day Benghazi); Teuchira (later Arsinoe, present-day Tukrah); and Apollonia (Susah), the port of Cyrene. Together with Cyrene, they were known as the Pentapolis (Five Cities).

Romans

The Romans unified all three regions of Libya, and for more than 600 years Tripolitania and Cyrenaica became prosperous Roman provinces.[9] Roman ruins, such as those of Leptis Magna, attest to the vitality of the region, where populous cities and even small towns enjoyed the amenities of urban life. Merchants and artisans from many parts of the Roman world established themselves in North Africa, but the character of the cities of Tripolitania remained decidedly Punic and, in Cyrenaica, Greek.

Arabs

Arabs under General Abdullah ibn Saad conquered Libya in the 7th century AD during the reign of Caliph Usman. In the following centuries, many of the indigenous peoples adopted Islam, and also the Arabic language and culture.

Ottoman Turks

The Ottoman Turks conquered the country in the mid-16th century, and the three States or “Wilayat” of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan (which make up Libya) remained part of their empire with the exception of the virtual autonomy of the Karamanlis. The Karamanlis ruled from 1711 until 1835 mainly in Tripolitania, but had influence in Cyrenaica and Fezzan as well by the mid 18th century. This constituted a first glimpse in recent history of the united and independent Libya that was to re-emerge two centuries later. Ironically, reunification came about through the unlikely route of an invasion (Italo-Turkish War, 1911-1912) and occupation starting from 1911 when Italy simultaneously turned the three regions into colonies.[10]

Italian Colony

From 1912 to 1927, the territory of Libya was known as Italian North Africa. From 1927 to 1934, the territory was split into two colonies, Italian Cyrenaica and Italian Tripolitania run by Italian governors.

In 1934, Italy adopted the name “Libya” (used by the Greeks for all of North Africa, except Egypt) as the official name of the colony (made up of the three Provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan). King Idris I, Emir of Cyrenaica, led Libyan resistance to Italian occupation between the two World Wars. From 1943 to 1951, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were under British administration, while the French controlled Fezzan. In 1944, Idris returned from exile in Cairo but declined to resume permanent residence in Cyrenaica until the removal of some aspects of foreign control in 1947. Under the terms of the 1947 peace treaty with the Allies, Italy relinquished all claims to Libya.[11]

United Kingdom of Libya

On November 21, 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before January 1, 1952. Idris represented Libya in the subsequent UN negotiations. On December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris.

The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled one of the world’s poorest nations to establish an extremely wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government’s finances, popular resentment began to build over the increased concentration of the nation’s wealth in the hands of King Idris and the national elite. This discontent continued to mount with the rise of Nasserism and Arab nationalism throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Coup of Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi

On September 1, 1969, a small group of military officers led by then 27-year-old army officer Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris. At the time, Idris was in Turkey for medical treatment. His nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, became King. It was clear that the revolutionary officers who had announced the deposition of King Idris did not want to appoint him over the instruments of state as King. Sayyid quickly found that he had substantially less power as the new King than he had earlier had as a mere Prince. Before the end of September 1, Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida had been formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest. Meanwhile, revolutionary officers abolished the monarchy, and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was, and is to this day, referred to as the “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in government statements and the official press.

Geography Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 17 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,759,540 sq km
land: 1,759,540 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Alaska
Land boundaries: total: 4,348 km
border countries: Algeria 982 km, Chad 1,055 km, Egypt 1,115 km, Niger 354 km, Sudan 383 km, Tunisia 459 km
Coastline: 1,770 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
note: Gulf of Sidra closing line – 32 degrees, 30 minutes north
exclusive fishing zone: 62 nm
Climate: Mediterranean along coast; dry, extreme desert interior
Terrain: mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sabkhat Ghuzayyil -47 m
highest point: Bikku Bitti 2,267 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, gypsum
Land use: arable land: 1.03%
permanent crops: 0.19%
other: 98.78% (2005)
Irrigated land: 4,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.6 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 4.27 cu km/yr (14%/3%/83%)
per capita: 730 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli is a southern wind lasting one to four days in spring and fall; dust storms, sandstorms
Environment – current issues: desertification; limited natural fresh water resources; the Great Manmade River Project, the largest water development scheme in the world, is being built to bring water from large aquifers under the Sahara to coastal cities
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: more than 90% of the country is desert or semidesert
People Population: 6,173,579
note: includes 166,510 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 33.2% (male 1,046,400/female 1,002,148)
15-64 years: 62.6% (male 1,988,038/female 1,875,034)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 128,386/female 133,573) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 23.6 years
male: 23.7 years
female: 23.5 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.216% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 25.62 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 3.46 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.07 years
male: 74.81 years
female: 79.44 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.15 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 10,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Libyan(s)
adjective: Libyan
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab 97%, other 3% (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)
Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%, other 3%
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%
male: 92.4%
female: 72%

Tunisia: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Tunisia

Introduction Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881 and the creation of a protectorate. Agitation for independence in the decades following World War I was finally successful in getting the French to recognize Tunisia as an independent state in 1956. The country’s first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. BEN ALI is currently serving his fourth consecutive five-year term as president; the next elections are scheduled for October 2009. Tunisia has long taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
History At the beginning of recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century B.C. by settlers from Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon. Legend says that Dido founded the city in 814 B.C., as retold in by the Greek writer Timaeus of Tauromenium. The settlers of Carthage brought their culture and religion from the Phoenicians and other Canaanites.

After a series of wars with Greek city-states of Sicily in the 5th century BC, Carthage rose to power and eventually became the dominant civilization in the Western Mediterranean. The people of Carthage worshipped a pantheon of Middle Eastern gods including Baal and Tanit. Tanit’s symbol, a simple female figure with extended arms and long dress, is a popular icon found in ancient sites. The founders of Carthage also established a Tophet which was altered in Roman times.

Though the Romans referred to the new empire growing in the city of Carthage as Punic or Phoenician, the empire built around Carthage was an independent political entity from the other Phoenician settlements in the Western Mediterranean.

A Carthaginian invasion of Italy led by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, one of a series of wars with Rome, nearly crippled the rise of the Roman Empire. Carthage was eventually conquered by Rome in the 2nd century BC, a turning point which led to ancient Mediterranean civilization having been influenced mainly by European instead of African cultures. After the Roman conquest, the region became one of the granaries of Rome, and was Latinized and Christianized. It was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century AD and reconquered by the commander Belisarius in the 6th century during the rule of Byzantine emperor Justinian.

In the 7th century the region was conquered by Arab Muslims, who founded the city of Kairouan which became the first city of Islam in North Africa. Tunisia flourished under Arab rule. Extensive irrigation installations were constructed to supply towns with water and promote agriculture (especially olive production). This prosperity permitted luxurious court life and was marked by the construction of new Palace cities such as al-Abassiya (809) and Raqadda (877). Successive Muslim dynasties ruled Tunisia (Ifriqiya at the time) with occasional instabilities caused mainly by Berber rebellions[citation needed]; of these reigns we can cite the Aghlabids (800-900) and Fatimids (909-972). After conquering Cairo, Fatimids abandoned North Africa to the local Zirids (Tunisia and parts of Eastern Algeria, 972-1148) and Hammadid (Central and eastern Algeria, 1015-1152). North Africa was submerged by their quarrels; political instability was connected to the decline of Tunisian trade and agriculture. In addition the invasion of Tunisia by Banu Hilal, a warlike Arab Bedouin tribes encouraged by Fatimids of Egypt to seize North Africa, sent the region’s urban and economic life into further decline. The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.

The coasts were held briefly by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century and the following Arab reconquest made the last Christians in Tunisia disappear. In 1159, Tunisia was conquered by the Almohad caliphs. They were succeeded by the Berber Hafsids (c.1230 – 1574), under whom Tunisia prospered. In the late 16th century the coast became a pirate stronghold (see: Barbary States). In the last years of the Hafsids, Spain seized many of the coastal cities, but these were recovered by the Ottoman Empire. Under its Turkish governors, the Beys, Tunisia attained virtual independence. The Hussein dynasty of Beys, established in 1705, lasted until 1957. From 1881 – 1956 the country was under French colonization. European settlements in the country were actively encouraged; the number of French colonists grew from 34,000 in 1906 to 144,000 in 1945. In 1910 there were 105,000 Italians in Tunisia.

World War II

In 1942 – 1943 Tunisia was the scene of the first major operations by the Allied Forces (the British Empire and the United States) against the Axis Powers (Italy and Germany) during World War II. The main body of the British army, advancing from their victory in Battle of el-Alamein under the command of British Field Marshal Montgomery, pushed into Tunisia from the south. The US and other allies, following their invasions of Algeria and Morocco in Operation Torch, invaded from the west.

General Rommel, commander of the Axis forces in North Africa, had hoped to inflict a similar defeat on the allies in Tunisia as German forces did in the Battle of France in 1940. Before the battle for El-alemin, the allied forces had been forced to retreat toward Egypt. As such the battle for Tunisia was a major test for the allies. They figured out that in order to defeat Axis forces they would have to coordinate their actions and quickly recover from the inevitable setbacks the German-Italian forces would inflict.

On February 19, 1943, General Rommel launched an attack on the American forces in the Kasserine Pass region of Western Tunisia, hoping to inflict the kind of demoralizing and alliance-shattering defeat the Germans had dealt to Poland and France. The initial results were a disaster for the United States; the area around the Kasserine Pass is the site of many US war graves from that time.

However, the American forces were ultimately able to reverse their retreat. Having known a critical strategy in tank warfare, the Allies broke through the Mareth line on March 20, 1943. The allies subsequently linked up on April 8 and on May 2, 1943 the German-Italian Army in Tunisia surrendered. Thus, the United States, United Kingdom, Free French, and Polish (as well as other forces) were able to win a major battle as an allied army.

The battle, though often overshadowed by Stalingrad, represented a major allied victory of World War II largely because it forged the Alliance which would one day liberate Western Europe.

Geography Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 163,610 sq km
land: 155,360 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
Land boundaries: total: 1,424 km
border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
Coastline: 1,148 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 12 nm
Climate: temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south
Terrain: mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
Land use: arable land: 17.05%
permanent crops: 13.08%
other: 69.87% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,940 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 4.6 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
per capita: 261 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural fresh water resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Religion The constitution declares Islam as the official state religion and requires the President to be Muslim. Tunisia also enjoys a significant degree of religious freedom, a right enshrined and protected in its constitution which guarantees the freedom to practice one’s religion. The country has a culture that encourages acceptance of other religions; religious freedom is widely practiced and the government is tolerant of religious freedom as long as it does not threaten national unity. Individual Tunisians are also tolerant of religious freedom and generally do not inquire about a person’s personal beliefs.

The majority of Tunisia’s population (98%) are Muslims, while 1% follow Christianity and the rest adhere to Judaism or other religions. However, there are no reliable data on the number of practicing Muslims. Some reports stipulate that atheists form the second largest group in the country (making it probably on top of any other North African country).

Tunisia has a sizable Christian community of around 25,000 adherents; mainly Catholics (20,000) and to a lesser degree Protestants. Judaism is the country’s third largest religion with 1,500 members. One-third of the Jewish population lives in and around the capital. The remainder lives on the island of Djerba, where the Jewish community dates back 2,500 years.

Djerba, an island in the Gulf of Gabès, is home to El Ghriba synagogue, which is one of the oldest synagogues in the world. Many Jews consider it a pilgrimage site with celebrations taking place there once every year.

Tunisia is one of the very few North African countries where synagogues and churches are open to worshipers.

People Population: 10,383,577 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,246,105/female 1,167,379)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 3,638,062/female 3,595,254)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 345,590/female 391,187) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 28.8 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 29.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.989% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.5 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.17 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.43 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.56 years
male: 73.79 years
female: 77.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 1,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.3%
male: 83.4%
female: 65.3% (2004 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 7.3% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
conventional short form: Tunisia
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
local short form: Tunis
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Tunis
geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 24 governorates; Ariana (Aryanah), Beja (Bajah), Ben Arous (Bin ‘Arus), Bizerte (Banzart), Gabes (Qabis), Gafsa (Qafsah), Jendouba (Jundubah), Kairouan (Al Qayrawan), Kasserine (Al Qasrayn), Kebili (Qibili), Kef (Al Kaf), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Manouba (Manubah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bou Zid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)
Independence: 20 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 20 March (1956); also the anniversary of BEN ALI’s assumption of the presidency, 7 November (1987)
Constitution: 1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002
Legal system: based on French civil law system and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal except for active government security forces (including the police and the military), people with mental disabilities, people who have served more than three months in prison (criminal cases only), and people given a suspended sentence of more than six months
Executive branch: chief of state: President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since 17 November 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a fourth term; percent of vote – Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 94.5%, Mohamed BOUCHIHA 3.8%, Mohamed Ali HALOUANI 1%
Legislative branch: bicameral system consists of the Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (189 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Advisors (126 seats; 85 members elected by municipal counselors, deputies, mayors, and professional associations and trade unions; 41 members are presidential appointees; members serve six-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Deputies – last held on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); Chamber of Advisors – last held on 3 July 2005 (next to be held in July 2011)
election results: Chamber of Deputies – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – RCD 152, MDS 14, PUP 11, UDU 7, Al-Tajdid 3, PSL 2; Chamber of Advisors – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – RCD 71 (14 trade union seats vacant (due to boycott))
Judicial branch: Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders: Al-Tajdid Movement [Ahmed IBRAHIM]; Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique) or RCD (official ruling party) [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL [Mustapha Ben JAFAAR]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mondher THABET]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party [Maya JERIBI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]; note – the Islamist party, Al Nahda (Renaissance), is outlawed
Political pressure groups and leaders: 18 October Group [collective leadership]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, BSEC (observer), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, OAPEC (suspended), OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Tarek Ben YOUSSEF
chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert F. GODEC
embassy: Zone Nord-Est des Berges du Lac Nord de Tunis 1053
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [216] 71 107-000
FAX: [216] 71 963-263
Flag description: red with a white disk in the center bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam
Culture The Culture of Tunisia is a product of more than three thousand years of history and an important multi-ethnic influx. Ancient Tunisia was a major civilization crossing through history; different cultures, civilizations and multiple successive dynasties contributed to the culture of the country over centuries with a varying degrees of influence. Among these cultures were the Panic, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Islamic, Turkish, and French, in addition to native Berbers. This unique mixture of cultures made Tunisia, with its strategic geographical location in the Mediterranean, the core of some great civilizations of Mare Nostrum.

The history of Tunisia reveals this rich past where different successive Mediterranean cultures had a strong presence. After the Carthaginian Empire, the Roman Empire came and left a lasting effect on the land with various monuments and cities such the El-Jem Amphitheater and the archaeological site of the ancient city of Carthage, which is classified as a world heritage site. El Jem is just one of seven world heritage sites found in Tunisia.

After a few centuries of the presence of Christianity, represented by the Church of Africa, the Arab Islamic conquest transformed the whole country and founded a new city called Al-Qayrawan, Al-Qayrawan is a renowned center for religious and intellectual pursuits.

With the annexation of Tunisia by the Ottoman Empire, the center of power shifted from Tunis to Istanbul. This shift in power allowed the local government of the new Ottoman Province to gain more independence, which was maintained until the institution of the French Protectorate (which was later seen as occupation). The protectorate introduced elements of Western – French – culture.

The important elements of Tunisian culture are diverse and represent a unique, mixed heritage. This heritage can be experienced first-hand in: museums, the contrast and diversity of city architecture, cuisine, music, literature, cinema, religion, the arts, and sports.

Economy Economy – overview: Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Progressive social policies also have helped raise living conditions in Tunisia relative to the region. Real growth, which averaged almost 5% over the past decade, declined to 4.7% in 2008 and probably will decline further in 2009 because of economic contraction and slowing of import demand in Europe – Tunisia’s largest export market. However, development of non-textile manufacturing, a recovery in agricultural production, and strong growth in the services sector somewhat mitigated the economic effect of slowing exports. Tunisia will need to reach even higher growth levels to create sufficient employment opportunities for an already large number of unemployed as well as the growing population of university graduates. The challenges ahead include: privatizing industry, liberalizing the investment code to increase foreign investment, improving government efficiency, reducing the trade deficit, and reducing socioeconomic disparities in the impoverished south and west.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $83.4 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $41.77 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.7% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,000 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 28.3%
services: 61% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 3.676 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 55%
industry: 23%
services: 22% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate: 14% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 7.4% (2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 40 (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 24.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $9.652 billion
expenditures: $11.03 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 53.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2008 est.)
Stock of money: $9.491 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $13.56 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $25.23 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $5.355 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products
Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
Electricity – production: 12.65 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 10.75 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 135 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 99.5%
hydro: 0.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 86,210 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 91,110 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 73,790 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 89,130 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 400 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 2.55 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 3.85 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$993 million (2008 est.)
Exports: $19.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
Exports – partners: France 31.3%, Italy 21%, Germany 8.5%, Spain 5.5%, Libya 5.5% (2007)
Imports: $23 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports – partners: France 23.8%, Italy 21.9%, Germany 9.7%, Spain 5%, Libya 4.4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $376.5 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $8.875 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $19.33 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $28.51 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $130 million (2008 est.)
Currency (code): Tunisian dinar (TND)
Currency code: TND
Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar – 1.211 (2008 est.), 1.2776 (2007), 1.331 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1.273 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 7.842 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; Internet access available
domestic: in an effort jumpstart expansion of the fixed-line network, the government has awarded a concession to build and operate a VSAT network with international connectivity; competition between the two mobile-cellular service providers has resulted in lower activation and usage charges and a strong surge in subscribership; expansion of mobile-cellular services to include multimedia messaging and e-mail and Internet to mobile phone services also leading to a surge in subscribership; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 90 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code – 216; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable system that provides links to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; 2 international gateway digital switches
Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 38, shortwave 2 (2007)
Radios: 2.06 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 920,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tn
Internet hosts: 376 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 1.722 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 30 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 14
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 2,665 km; oil 1,235 km; refined products 353 km (2007)
Railways: total: 2,153 km
standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,674 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified)
dual gauge: 8 km 1.435 m and 1.000-m gauges (three rails) (2006)
Roadways: total: 19,232 km
paved: 12,655 km (includes 262 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,577 km (2004)
Merchant marine: total: 7
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Bizerte, Gabes, La Goulette, Rades, Sfax, Skhira
Military Military branches: Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At’tunisia) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 12 months; 18 years of age for voluntary military service (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,992,249
females age 16-49: 2,912,819 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 2,539,962
females age 16-49: 2,465,295 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 101,794
female: 95,198 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.4% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: none