Tunisia facts for kids
|Motto: حرية، نظام، عدالة
"Ḥurriyyah, Niẓām, ‘Adālah"
"Liberty, Order, Justice"
|Anthem: "Humat al-Hima"
"Defenders of the Homeland"
and largest city
|Government||Unitary Semi- Presidential Republic|
|-||President||Beji Caid Essebsi|
|-||Head of Government||Youssef Chahed|
|-||from France||March 20, 1956|
|-||Total||163,610 km2 (92nd)
63,170 sq mi
|-||Apr 2, 2011 estimate||10,432,500 (79th)|
|-||Density||63/km2 (133rd (2005))
|HDI (2011)|| 0.698
medium · 94th
|Currency||Tunisian dinar (TND)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+1)|
|Drives on the||right|
|Internet TLD||.tn .تونس|
The early History
Since history has been recorded, there were Berber tribes living in what is now Tunisia. Most of them built little towns and ports along the coastline so they could trade with different travellers from everywhere in the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the travellers that used to pass by Tunisia were Phoenicians who started to settle on the Tunisian coast during the 10th Century BC. Later, in the 8th Century BC, Carthage was built by some settlers that came from Phoenicia and regions abroad. After many wars against Greece in 6th Century BC, Carthage dominated the Mediterranean Sea.
During the Second Punic War, Carthage invaded Italy with an army led by Hannibal. The series of wars between the Roman Empire and Carthage ended with the destruction of Carthage in the 2nd Century BC. After the destruction of the Carthaginian civilization, the region became under the Roman Empire control.
When the Roman Empire became weak, the Vandals occupied that region. This was in the 5th Century AD, and one hundred years after that, it became under the control of the Byzantine emperor Justinian.
Beginning of Islam
In the 7th Century, it was re-conquered by the Arab Muslims who built a city which they called Kairouan. Kairouan was the first Arab Muslim city in Tunisia. Many Muslim dynasties (monarchies) ruled Tunisia. One of the best known dynasties was the Zirids dynasty. The Zirids was a Berber dynasty that followed the rules of the Fatimides, a bigger dynasty in Cairo. When the Zirids angered the Fatimides, the Fatimides sent some tribes known as Banu Hilal who ravaged (destroyed and vandalized) Tunisia.
After a brief occupation of Tunisia by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th Century, the Almohad re-conquered it. After that came the Hafsids. In the last years of their reign, the Hafsids became weak and Spain took control of many cities on the coast until they were finally occupied by the Ottoman Empire.
In 1705, Tunisia became virtually independent during the Hussein dynasty, but still had to follow orders from the Ottoman Empire.
Some controversial financial decisions (money-lending) taken by the Bey in mid-1800s in an attempt to repair the country led Tunisia to become under the control of France. Tunisia became officially a French protectorate in on May 12, 1881.
World War II
Major operations during the second world war took place in Tunisia.
General Rommel, the German leader in Africa, wished to defeat the allies in Tunisia, as the Germans had done in the Battle of France. As the allies were inexperienced before the Battle of Tunisia against the German Blitzkrieg and were a bit slow to recover after other attacks, this battle was to be a major test.
On February 19, 1943, General Rommel launched an attack against the U.S. Forces. That was a disaster for the United States. The area where the attacks had been, in the western area of Tunisia, became the site of many US war graves .
After that, the Allies understood the importance of tank warfare, and they easily broke into the German lines in southern Tunisia on March 20, 1943.
Independence and revolution
Tunisia became independent in 1956 and Habib Bourguiba became the first president. In 1957 it became a republic. Bourguiba focused on education and economic development. He was quite supportive of women's rights. However, he had a cult of personality around him and most of the power in the country was held by Bourguiba.
In 1987, Bourguiba was removed from power by Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali ruled as dictator of the country until 2011, when he was overthrown in a revolution. The revolution was the first major revolution of the Arab Spring. Tunisia began becoming more democratic, and in 2014, the country held its first free presidential election. The election was won by Beji Caid Essebsi, a secular, liberal candidate.
Tunisia is in the northern part of Africa. The Mediterranean Sea joins Tunisia in the north and east; the coastline of Tunisia on the Mediterranean Sea is about 1,300 km. Tunisia is also bordered by Algeria to the west and Libya to the south-east.
The Sahara Desert covers 40% of Tunisia. The other 60% is a fertile area.
Standard Arabic is the official language by the Tunisian constitution. But Tunisians speak Tunisian Arabic. Tunisian Arabic is a mix of many languages of people that live or lived in Tunisia. It is called Darija or Tunsi.
A small number of people living in Tunisia still speak a Berber dialect, known as Shelha.
Most people now living Tunisian are Maghrebin Arab. However, small groups of Berbers and Jews live in Tunisia.
Tunisia is divided into 24 governorates. They are:
The largest cities in Tunisia are:
Tunisia's economy has many sectors: agriculture (fruit, vegetable oil and vegetables), tourism (when people come from other countries to visit), mining (extracting goods from under the ground), and petroleum (fuel and gas oil). The government used to control the economy, but now it has sold some public companies. This is called privatization.
Tunisia was also the first Mediterranean country to make an agreement with the European Union. This association agreement was signed on March 1, 1995.
Tunisia has plans for two nuclear power stations, to be working by 2019.
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Tunisia Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.