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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #50 of 54: Togo | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #52 of 54: Uganda »

August 13, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #51 of 54: Tunisia

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
51. TUNISIA
Flag of Tunisia

Formal Name: Republic of Tunisia.

Term for Citizens: Tunisians.

Capital: Tunis. Population: 1, 927, 000

Independence Achieved: March 20, 1956, from France.

Major Cities: Tunis.

Geography:

Tunisia is in North Africa. It is bordered by Libya, Algeria and the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia is about 63,170 square miles. It has Mediterranean climate along the coast, with some rain. Mountain ranges (Dorsale Mountain) in the north. Arid and hot south culminating into the Sahara Desert.

Society: Tunisia has an estimated population of 9, 832, 000. 50% of the population is urban.

Ethnic Groups: Arabs and Berbers. Both groups speak Arabic. The educated elements of Tunisia speak French.

Education: Free elementary education. Literacy is estimated at 74.2% of the population.

Economy: Oil, Iron, Phosphates Mining, light Industries, tourism, textiles, footwear. Chief crops: Olives, date, grain, citrus, tomatoes, sugar beets, almonds, cattle, sheep, chicken. GDP estimate: $63 billion; Per Capita GDP: $6, 500. Monetary Unit: Dinar.

Agriculture plays a large part in the economy; major crops are olives, citrus, potatoes, tomatoes, dates, and fish. Manufacturing is a fast growing sector, especially textile industry.

History and Government:

Tunisia is composed of Arabs and Berbers, with the Arabs in charge. Turkey ruled Tunisia before the French took over in 1881. When the country became independent from France in 1956, it ended the monarchy and established a French type presidential system. Tunisia has a strong president, indeed the president is the government and serves for life. The president appoints a prime minister to run the day-to-day affairs of government. There is a unicameral legislature elected for five years. One party, PSD, dominates this Parliament. The country is divided into 23 administrative provinces, each with a governor. The provinces are further divided into sectors with elected councils.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


Tunisia was originally inhabited by Berbers. But it has seen many invaders who left their marks on the population: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, and in the seventh century, Arabs. Arabs came to stay and imposed their religion, Islam and language on the population.

Today most Tunisians are a mix of Arab and Berber and are Muslim and speak Arabic (except pockets of Berber speaking persons scattered in the country).
Like most of Arabia, the Ottoman Turks came calling, too, and ruled the area. The history of modern Tunisia, however, began when the Europeans came along.

In 1878, Britain made a secret deal with France, which permitted France to take over Tunisia while Britain took Cyprus. In 1881 France declared Tunisia a protectorate.

In 1956 France gave Tunisia independence. Habib Bourguiba and his party, RCD ruled for the next twenty five years. In 1987 Zine El Abidine Ben Ali defeated Mr. Bourguiba and became the president; he is still in office.

The president is elected every five years, appoints a prime minister and cabinet, appoints regional governors and essentially rules the country.

Tunisia is divided into 24 governorates, with the central government in Tunis appointing the governors of these local areas.

The economy of Tunisia is largely based on agriculture, mining, and tourism. The manufacturing sector is nascent.

Tunisia is trying to meet the conditions for associating with the European Union. In the meantime, her government is anything but the type of governance found in the EU: democratic. Nevertheless, Tunisia is a stable Arab polity, which means that a strong man is in charge of things.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at August 13, 2006 12:30 PM

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