Tunisia 1998Tunisia

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Tunisia - Introduction 1998
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Background: Following independence from France in 1956 President Habib BOURGIUBA 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 recent years Tunisia has taken a moderate non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically it has sought to diffuse rising pressure for a more open political society.

Tunisia - Geography 1998
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Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya

Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E

Map referenceAfrica

Total: 163,610 km²
Land: 155,360 km²
Water: 8,250 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries
Total: 1,424 km
Border countries: (2) Algeria 965 km; , Libya 459 km

Coastline: 1,148 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Territorial sea: 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

Extremes lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
Extremes highest point: Jabal ash Shanabi 1,544 m

Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 19%
Permanent crops: 13%
Permanent pastures: 20%
Forests and woodland: 4%
Other: 44% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 3,850 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: NA

Note: strategic location in central Mediterranean

Tunisia - People 1998
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Population: 9,380,404 (July 1998 est.)
Growth rate: 1.43% (1998 est.)

Noun: Tunisian(s)
Adjective: Tunisian

Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)

Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 32% (male 1,526,743; female 1,433,503)
15-64 years: 63% (male 2,933,487; female 2,947,189)
65 years and over: 5% (male 275,411; female 264,071) (July 1998 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 1.43% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 20.07 births/1000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.06 deaths/1000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.73 migrant(s)/1000 population (1998 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and presents human health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural fresh water resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
International agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
International agreements signed but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.04 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 32.64 deaths/1000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 73.1 years
Male: 71.72 years
Female: 74.58 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.44 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 66.7%
Male: 78.6%
Female: 54.6% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Tunisia - Government 1998
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Country name
Conventional long form: Republic of Tunisia
Conventional short form: Tunisia
Local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
Local short form: Tunis

Government type: republic

Capital: Tunis

Administrative divisions: 23 governorates; Beja, Ben Arous, Bizerte, Gabes, Gafsa, Jendouba, Kairouan, Kasserine, Kebili, L'Ariana, Le Kef, Mahdia, Medenine, Monastir, Nabeul, Sfax, Sidi Bou Zid, Siliana, Sousse, Tataouine, Tozeur, Tunis, Zaghouan

Dependent areas

Independence: 20 March 1956 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 20 March (1956)

Constitution: 1 June 1959; amended 12 July 1988

Legal system: based on French civil law system and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987): ead of
Government: Prime Minister Hamed KAROUI (since 26 September 1989)
Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held NA 1999); prime minister appointed by the president
Election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected without opposition; percent of vote_Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 99%

Legislative branch: unicameral Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (163 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Elections: last held 20 March 1994 (next to be held NA 1999)
Election results: percent of vote by party_RCD 97.7%, MDS 1.0%, others 1.3%; seats by party_RCD 144, MDS 10, others 9; note_the government changed the electoral code to guarantee that the opposition won seats

Judicial branch: Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation)

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, AMU, BSEC (observer), CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, MIPONUH, NAM, OAS (observer), OAU, OIC, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Noureddine MEJDOUB
In the us chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,005
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Robin L. RAPHEL
From the us embassy: 144 Avenue de la Liberte, 1002 Tunis-Belvedere
From the us mailing address: use embassy street address
From the us telephone: [216] (1) 782-566
From the us fax: [216] (1) 789-719

Flag descriptionflag of Tunisia: red with a white disk in the center bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Tunisia - Economy 1998
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Economy overview: Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization of trade and commerce, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Real growth averaged 4.6% in 1992-96 and reached 5.6% in 1997, down from 6.9% in 1996, which benefited from a record cereal crop. Inflation has been moderate. Growth in tourism and increased trade have been key elements in this solid record. Tunisia's association agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 March 1998, the first such accord between the EU and Mediterranean countries to be activated. Under the agreement Tunisia will gradually remove barriers to trade with the EU over the next decade. Further privatization, the attraction of increased foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the challenges for the future.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 5.6% (1997 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 14%
Industry: 28%
Services: 58% (1996 est.)

Agriculture products: olives, dates, oranges, almonds, grain, sugar beets, grapes; poultry, beef, dairy products

Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, food, beverages

Industrial production growth rate: 3.5% (1995)

Labor force
Total: 2.917 million (1993 est.)
By occupation services: 55%
By occupation industry: 23%
By occupation agriculture: 22% (1995 est.)
Note: shortage of skilled labor
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 15% (1997 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $6.3 billion
Expenditures: $6.8 billion, including capital expenditures to $1.5 billion (1997 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: total value:$5.6 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
Commodoties: hydrocarbons, textiles, agricultural products, phosphates and chemicals
Partners: EU 80%, North African countries 6%, Asia 4%, US 1% (1996)

Imports: total value:$7.4 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
Commodoties: industrial goods and equipment 57%, hydrocarbons 13%, food 12%, consumer goods
Partners: EU countries 80%, North African countries 5.5%, Asia 5.5%, US 5% (1996)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $10.6 billion (1997 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TD) per US$1: 1.1612 (January 1998), 1.1059 (1997), 0.9734 (1996), 0.9458 (1995), 1.0116 (1994), 1.0037 (1993)

Tunisia - Energy 1998
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 6.165 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 696 kWh (1995)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Tunisia - Communication 1998
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: the system is above the African average; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis
Domestic: trunk facilities consist of open-wire lines, coaxial cable, and microwave radio relay
International: 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations_1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat with back-up control station; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Tunisia - Military 1998
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $535 million (1995)
Percent of gdp: 2.8% (1995)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Tunisia - Transportation 1998
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 32 (1997 est.)
With paved runways total: 15
With paved runways over 3047 m: 3
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 6
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 3
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 3 (1997 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 17
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 2
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 8
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 7 (1997 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 15
Over 3047 m: 3
2438 to 3047 m: 6
15-24 to 2437 m: 3
914 to 1523 m: 3 (1997 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 17
15-24 to 2437 m: 2
914 to 1523 m: 8
Under 914 m: 7 (1997 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 797 km; petroleum products 86 km; natural gas 742 km

Total: 2,260 km
Standard gauge: 492 km 1.435-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 1,758 km 1.000-m gauge
Dual gauge: 10 km 1.000-m and 1.435-m gauges (1993 est.)



Merchant marine
Total: 20 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 157,475 GRT/165,922 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 5, chemical tanker 2, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 1 (1997 est.)

Ports and terminals

Tunisia - Transnational issues 1998
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Disputes international: maritime boundary dispute with Libya; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs

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