Geographic and Governmental Profile of Tunisia

Background
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. Street protests that began in Tunis in December 2010 over high unemployment, corruption, widespread poverty, and high food prices escalated in January 2011, culminating in rioting that led to hundreds of deaths. On 14 January 2011, the same day BEN ALI dismissed the government, he fled the country, and by late January 2011, a "national unity government" was formed. Elections for the new Constituent Assembly were held in late October 2011, and in December it elected human rights activist Moncef MARZOUKI as interim president. The Assembly began drafting a new constitution in February 2012, and is aiming to have it ratified by the end of the year.
Location
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates
34 00 N, 9 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Africa
Area
total:
163,610 sq km
rank:
93
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)
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Irrigated land
4,450 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 freshwater 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
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)
Administrative divisions
24 governorates (wilayat, singular - wilayah); 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)
Constitution
1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002; note - the Constituent Assembly formed in October 2011 following the country's political revolution was charged with writing a new constitution; approval is expected by the end of 2012
Legal system
mixed legal system of civil law, based on the French civil code, and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
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
note:
Tunisia's interim government was appointed in December 2011 and will remain in power pending drafting of a new constitution and holding of general elections in mid-2013
chief of state:
President Moncef MARZOUKI (since 13 December 2011)
head of government:
Prime Minister Hamadi JEBALI (since 14 December 2011)
cabinet:
Prime Minister JEBALI was asked to form a new government on 14 December 2011
elections:
president elected by Constituent Assembly; election last held on 12 December 2011(next to be held by March 2013); prime minister appointed by the president
election results:
President MARZOUKI elected by Constituent Assembly with 153 of 156 votes
Legislative branch
unicameral Constituent Assembly (217 seats); note - this interim legislative body was formed and members elected following Tunisia's 2010-11 political revolution
elections:
election held on 23 October 2011 (next to be held by March 2013)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - al-Nahda 89, CPR 29, Popular Petition 26, FDTL 20, PDP 16, PDM 5, The Initiative 5, Afek Tounes 4, PCOT 3, other minor parties each with fewer than three seats 20
Judicial branch
Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders
Afek Tounes [Emna MINF]; al-Nahda (The Renaissance) [Rachid GHANNOUCHI]; Congress Party for the Republic or CPR [Moncef MARZOUKI]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL (Ettakatol) [Mustapha Ben JAAFAR]; Democratic Modernist Pole or PDM (a coalition); Democratic Socialist Movement or MDS; Et-Tajdid Movement [Ahmed IBRAHIM]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mondher THABET]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Petition (Aridha Chaabia) [Hachemi HAMDI]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party or PDP [Maya JERIBI]; The Initiative [Kamel MORJANE] (formerly the Constitutional Democratic Rally or RCD); Tunisian Workers' Communist Party or PCOT [Hamma HAMMAMI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]
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-11, 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, MONUSCO, NAM, OAPEC, 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 AMRI
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 Jacob WALLES
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; resembles the Ottoman flag (red banner with white crescent and star) and recalls Tunisia's history as part of the Ottoman Empire; red represents the blood shed by martyrs in the struggle against oppression, white stands for peace; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam
the flag is based on that of Turkey, itself a successor state to the Ottoman Empire
National symbol(s)
encircled red star and crescent
National anthem
name:
"Humat Al Hima" (Defenders of the Homeland)
lyrics/music:
Mustafa Sadik AL-RAFII and Aboul-Qacem ECHEBBI/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB
adopted 1957, replaced 1958, restored 1987; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of the United Arab Emirates
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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