Tunisia

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 29, 2011
Flag of Tunisia
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Location of Tunisia
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OF TUNISIA
 

Introduction

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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, Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI announced the formation of a "national unity government" with the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Fouad M'BAZAA, as the interim president. In late October 2011, elections for a new parliament were held.
 
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Geography

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Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
 
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34 00 N, 9 00 E
 
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total: 163,610 sq km
country comparison to the world: 93
land: 155,360 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
 
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slightly larger than Georgia
 
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total: 1,424 km
border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
 
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1,148 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 12 nm
 
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temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south
 
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mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara
 
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lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
 
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petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
 
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arable land: 17.05%
permanent crops: 13.08%
other: 69.87% (2005)
 
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4,450 sq km (2008)
 
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4.6 cu km (2003)
 
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total: 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
per capita: 261 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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NA
 
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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
 
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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
 
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strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
 
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People and Society

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noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
 
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Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
 
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Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
 
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Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
 
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10,629,186 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
 
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0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,274,348/female 1,193,131)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,638,014/female 3,728,294)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 390,055/female 405,344) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 30 years
male: 29.6 years
female: 30.4 years (2011 est.)
 
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0.978% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 118
 
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17.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
 
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5.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
 
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-1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
 
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urban population: 67% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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TUNIS (capital) 759,000 (2009)
 
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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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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60 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 91
 
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total: 25.92 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 79
male: 29.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 75.01 years
country comparison to the world: 91
male: 73 years
female: 77.17 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.03 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
 
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6.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 100
 
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1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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2.1 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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improved:
urban: 99% of population
rural: 84% of population
total: 94% of population
unimproved:
urban: 1% of population
rural: 16% of population
total: 6% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 96% of population
rural: 64% of population
total: 85% of population
unimproved:
urban: 4% of population
rural: 36% of population
total: 15% of population (2008)
 
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less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
 
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2,400 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
 
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fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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3.3% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 102
 
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7.1% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 15
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.3%
male: 83.4%
female: 65.3% (2004 census)
 
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total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2008)
 
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total: 30.7%
country comparison to the world: 14
male: 31.4%
female: 29.3% (2005)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
conventional short form: Tunisia
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
local short form: Tunis
 
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republic
 
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name: Tunis
geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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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)
 
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20 March 1956 (from France)
 
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Independence Day, 20 March (1956); also the anniversary of BEN ALI's assumption of the presidency, 7 November (1987)
 
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1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002; note - the newly formed legislative body, the Constituent Assembly, is charged by the interim government with writing a new constitution
 
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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
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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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
 
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chief of state: Interim President Fouad M'BAZAA (since 15 January 2011); note - an interim government took office on 17 January 2011 to replace the government of former President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI
head of government: Prime Minister Beji CAID ESSEBSI (since 27 February 2011)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president; note - the formation of a new cabinet was announced on 17 January 2011
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 25 October 2009 (next to be held in October 2014); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a fifth term; percent of vote - Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 89.6%, Mohamed BOUCHIHA 5%, Ahmed INOUBLI 3.8%, Ahmed BRAHIM 1.6%; voter turnout 89.4%
 
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note - following the 2010-2011 political revolution in Tunisia, an interim government was formed to include an interim legislative body, the "Constituent Assembly"
elections: note - initial election of 218 Constituent Assembly members held on 23 October 2011
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
 
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Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
 
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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 JAFAAR]; 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]
 
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18 October Group [collective leadership]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]
 
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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
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamed Salah TEKAYA
chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon GRAY
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
 
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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
note: the flag is based on that of Turkey, itself a successor state to the Ottoman Empire
 
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encircled red star and crescent
 
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name: "Humat Al Hima" (Defenders of the Homeland)
lyrics/music: Mustafa Sadik AL-RAFII and Aboul-Qacem ECHEBBI/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB
note: adopted 1957, replaced 1958, restored 1987; Mohamad Abdel WAHAB also composed the music for the anthem of the United Arab Emirates
 
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Economy

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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 4.6% in 2008 and to 3-4% in 2009-10 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.
 
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$100 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
$96.43 billion (2009 est.)
$93.54 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$44.29 billion (2010 est.)
 
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3.7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
3.1% (2009 est.)
4.5% (2008 est.)
 
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$9,400 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$9,200 (2009 est.)
$9,000 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 10.6%
industry: 34.6%
services: 54.8% (2010 est.)
 
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3.769 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
 
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agriculture: 18.3%
industry: 31.9%
services: 49.8% (2009 est.)
 
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13% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
13.3% (2009 est.)
 
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3.8% (2005 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)
 
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40 (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
41.7 (1995 est.)
 
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26.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
 
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revenues: $10.29 billion
expenditures: $12.15 billion (2010 est.)
 
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23.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
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-4.2% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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48% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
46.7% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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4.4% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
3.5% (2009 est.)
 
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5.75% (31 December 2010 est.)
NA% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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NA% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
7.305% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$11.44 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
$11.29 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$28.11 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
$27.56 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$31.03 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$29.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$10.68 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 69
$9.12 billion (31 December 2009)
$6.374 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products
 
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petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
 
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7.7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
 
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14.4 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
 
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12.49 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
 
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129 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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7 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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83,720 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
 
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84,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
 
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91,200 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
 
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78,460 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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425 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
 
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3.6 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
 
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4.85 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
 
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1.25 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
 
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65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
 
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-$973.4 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
-$1.234 billion (2009 est.)
 
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$16.43 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
$14.42 billion (2009 est.)
 
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clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
 
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France 26.5%, Italy 17.4%, Germany 9.6%, Libya 6.2%, UK 5.6%, Spain 4.2% (2010)
 
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$21.01 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$18.12 billion (2009 est.)
 
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textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
 
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France 20.4%, Italy 20.2%, Germany 9.1%, Spain 5.2%, China 4.5% (2010)
 
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$9.462 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$11.06 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$23.09 billion (30 June 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$21.47 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
 
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$31.41 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
$31.86 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$285 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
$233 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar -
1.4367 (2010)
1.3503 (2009)
1.211 (2008)
1.2776 (2007)
1.331 (2006)
 
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Communications

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1.29 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 68
 
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11.114 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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general assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; telephone network is completely digitized; Internet access available throughout the country
domestic: in an effort to jumpstart expansion of the fixed-line network, the government has awarded a concession to build and operate a VSAT network with international connectivity; rural areas are served by wireless local loops; competition between the two mobile-cellular service providers has resulted in lower activation and usage charges and a strong surge in subscribership; a third mobile, fixed, and ISP operator was licensed in 2009 and will begin offering services in 2010; 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 100 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
 
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broadcast media is mainly government-controlled; the state-run Tunisian Radio and Television Establishment (ERTT) operates 2 national television networks, several national radio networks, and a number of regional radio stations; 1 TV and 3 radio stations are privately-owned and report domestic news stories directly from the official Tunisian news agency; the state retains control of broadcast facilities and transmitters through L'Office National de la Telediffusion; Tunisians also have access to Egyptian, pan-Arab, and European satellite TV channels (2007)
 
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.tn
 
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490 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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3.5 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 60
 
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Transportation

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32 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 113
 
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total: 16
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2010)
 
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total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2010)
 
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gas 2,386 km; oil 1,323 km; refined products 453 km (2010)
 
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total: 2,165 km
country comparison to the world: 68
standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,694 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified) (2010)
 
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total: 19,232 km
country comparison to the world: 111
paved: 12,655 km (includes 262 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,577 km (2008)
 
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total: 11
country comparison to the world: 110
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 2, chemical tanker 2, passenger/cargo 4, roll on/roll off 2
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2010)
 
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Bizerte, Gabes, Rades, Sfax, Skhira
 
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Military

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Tunisian Armed Forces (Forces Armees Tunisiens, FAT): Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At'Tunisia) (2011)
 
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20 years of age for compulsory military service, 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 1-year conscript service obligation (2007)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,846,572
females age 16-49: 2,952,180 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,397,716
females age 16-49: 2,484,097 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 90,436
female: 87,346 (2010 est.)
 
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1.4% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 109
 
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Transnational Issues

Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
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Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
current situation: Tunisia is a source, destination, and possible transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; young girls are forced into domestic servitude, some of whom are subsequently sexually and physically abused
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders, proactively identifying or protecting trafficking victims, or raising public awareness of human trafficking; the current government has established a National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons and is drafting comprehensive counter-trafficking legislation (2011)
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