Area: 163,610 sq. km. (63,378 sq. mi.), slightly smaller than
Cities: Capital--Tunis; Greater Tunis urban area: pop.
2,255,900 (includes Tunis, Ariana, Ben Arous, and Manouba
governorates) Sfax (pop. 858,300).
Terrain: Arable land in north and along central coast; south is
mostly semiarid or desert.
Climate: Hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Tunisian(s).
Population (2004): 9,941,000.
Annual growth rate (2003): 1.03%.
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 98%, European 1%, other 1%.
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish less than 1%.
Languages: Arabic (official), French.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--77.1% (male
85.2%; female 69%).
Health (2003): Infant mortality rate--21.1/1,000. Life
expectancy--71.1 years male, 75.1 years female.
Work force (2004, 3.33 million) Services--49.4%;
Constitution: June 1, 1959; amended July 12, 1988, June 29, 1999,
and June 1, 2002.
Independence: March 20, 1956.
Branches: Executive--chief of state President Zine El Abidine
BEN ALI (since November 7, 1987) head of government, Prime Minister
Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since November 17, 1999) cabinet, Council of
Ministers appointed by the president; president elected by popular
vote for a 5-year term; election last held October 24, 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; candidates from opposition: Mohamed Bouchiha (PUP),
Mohamed Ali Halouani (Et-tajdid) and Mounir Beji (PSL); percent of
vote--Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 94.49% (officially).
Legislative--bicameral. Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab
(189 seats; 5-year terms; 152 seats are elected by popular vote for
party lists on a winner-take-all basis). An additional 37 seats (20%
of the total) are distributed to opposition parties on a
proportional basis as provided for in 1999 constitutional
amendments. Elections last held October 24, 2004 (next to be held in
October 2009). Election results: percent of vote by party--RCD 92%;
seats by party--RCD 152, MDS 14, PUP 11, UDU 7, Et-tajdid 3, PSL 2.
Note: The opposition increased number of seats from 34 to 37. A
referendum in 2002 created a second chamber, the Chamber of
Advisors. Elections for the Chamber of Advisors were held in July
Judicial--independent District Courts, Courts of Appeal,
Highest Court (Cour de Cassation). Judges of the Highest Court are
appointed by the President.
Political parties: Et-tajdid Movement (Mohamed Harmel);
Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel
Democratique) or RCD, President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (official
ruling party); Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL
(Mustapha Ben Jaafar); Social Democratic Liberal Party or PSDL (Mounir
Beji); Movement of Democratic Socialists or MDS (Ismail Boulahia);
Popular Unity Party or PUP (Mohamed Bouchiha); Unionist Democratic
Union or UDU (Ahmed Inoubli); Democratic Progressive Party or PDP (Nejib
Political pressure groups and leaders: Legal--Tunisian
Human Rights League or LTDH (Mokhtar Trifi). Outlawed--An-Nahda
(Renaissance) the Islamic fundamentalist party (Rached El Ghanouchi);
National Council for Liberties in Tunisia or CNLT (Sihem Ben Sedrine);
Congress for the Republic or CPR (Moncef Marzouki); Tunisian
Communist Labor Party or POCT (Hamma Hammami); Tunisian Green Party
or PVT (Abdelkader Zitouni).
Administrative divisions: 24 governorates--Ariana, Beja, Ben Arous,
Bizerte, El Kef, Gabes, Gafsa, Jendouba, Kairouan, Kasserine, Kebili,
Mahdia, Manouba, Medenine, Monastir, Nabeul, Sfax, Sidi Bou Zid,
Siliana, Sousse, Tataouine, Tozeur, Tunis, Zaghouan.
Suffrage: Universal at 20. (Active duty members of the military
GDP (2004): $16.2 billion (constant price of 1990).
Growth rate (2004): 5.8%.
Per capita current GDP (2004): $2,667.
Natural resources: crude oil, gas, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc,
Agriculture (12.9% of GDP): Products--olives, beets, dates,
oranges, almonds, grain, sugar.
Industry (28.3% of GDP): Types--petroleum, mining
(particularly phosphate), textiles, footwear, food processing.
Services (38.6% of GDP): Tourism, commerce, transport,
Trade (2004): Exports--$9.5 billion: hydrocarbons,
agricultural products, phosphates, chemicals, textiles, mechanical,
electric components. By region--Africa 6.8%, Americas 2.1%,
Asia 3.1%, Europe 84.8%. By country (U.S.$ million)--France
$3145.1, Italy $2407.2, Germany, $871.9, Belgium, $283.9, Libya,
$341.2, U.S. $113.2, Spain $575.4. Imports ($10.7
billion)--industrial goods and equipment, hydrocarbons, food,
consumer goods. By region--Africa 5.4%, Americas 6.0% Asia
9.5%, Europe 78.5%. By country (U.S.$ million)--France
$3138.3, Italy $2375.4, Germany $1056.6, Belgium $351.0, Libya
$415.7, U.S. $351.6, Spain $662.0.
Trade balance deficit (2004): $3 billion.