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Tunisia Fast Facts


Here’s a look at Tunisia, a country in northern African. Tunisia borders Algeria, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea.

About Tunisia

(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 163,610 sq km, slightly larger than the US state of Georgia

Population: 11,811,335 (July 2021 est.)

Median age: 32.7 years

Capital: Tunis

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

Religion: Sunni Muslim 99.1%, other 1% (includes Christian, Jewish, Shia Muslim and Baha’i)

Unemployment: 15.5% (2017 est.)

Other Facts

Tunisia is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

Women in Tunisia enjoy some of the greatest rights and freedoms in the Arab world.

Tunisia’s 2011 mass popular uprising, dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution,” gave rise to the Arab Spring, the grass-roots movement that toppled autocratic leaders and promoted freedom and democracy across the Arabic-speaking region in North Africa and the Middle East.

Tunisia is one of the countries impacted by the migrant crisis, which has seen unprecedented numbers of people trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean since 2015. Tunisia is often used as a starting point by migrants, who often make the journey in overcrowded, makeshift boats.


1574 – The Ottoman Empire takes control of Tunisia.

1881 – Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.

1955 – France allows Tunisia some self-governance.

March 20, 1956 – Tunisia achieves full independence from France.

1957 – Tunisia becomes a republic, with Habib Bourguiba as president.

June 1959 – Tunisia ratifies its constitution.

November 1959 – Habib Bourguiba is formally elected president.

March 1975 – Bourguiba is named president for life.

November 7, 1987 – Prime Minister Zine el Abidine Ben Ali assumes the presidency after overthrowing Bourguiba in a bloodless coup and declaring him medically unfit to rule. Ben Ali is elected president five times: in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009.

December 17, 2010 – According to locals, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor, sets himself on fire in protest after police try to confiscate his belongings. He dies on January 4, 2011.

Late December 2010-Early January 2011 – Bouazizi’s act of self-immolation sparks widespread protests over rising unemployment rates, poverty levels, inflation and government repression and corruption.

January 14, 2011 – President Ben Ali flees the country for Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi takes over in his absence. This period is called the “Jasmine Revolution,” which marks the beginning of and inspiration for the Arab Spring.

January 15, 2011 – Speaker of Parliament Fouad Mebazaa is sworn in as interim president. Mebazaa asks Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to form a national unity government.

January 18, 2011 – Mebazaa and Ghannouchi resign from the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), which was the ruling party of former president Zine el Abedine Ben Ali. This is a move seen as a gesture to placate angry street demonstrators and keep the unity government afloat.

January 20, 2011 – Other ministers for the interim government also resign from the RCD.

January 30, 2011 – Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, returns to Tunisia after 22 years of exile.

February 27, 2011 – Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigns. Tunisia’s interim president selects Al-Baji Qa’ed Al-Sebsi as the new prime minister.

May 21, 2011 – Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, says that at least 300 people were killed and 700 injured during the Tunisian uprising in December and January.

June 14, 2011 – Interim Prime Minister Al-Sebsi announces that former President Ben Ali will be tried in absentia on charges relating to corruption and a stash of guns and drugs found in the presidential palace.

June 20, 2011 – After a one-day trial, former president Ben Ali and his wife are convicted of corruption in absentia. They are each sentenced to 35 years in prison and fined 91 million dinars ($65 million).

July 4, 2011 – After another one-day trial, Ben Ali is convicted of having marijuana and other illegal drugs, archaeological artifacts and weapons in the presidential palace. He is sentenced to 15.5 years in prison. Both Ben Ali’s trial and sentencing are conducted in absentia.

October 23, 2011 – Tunisia holds the first national elections since its independence in 1956, to seat the new 217-member National Constituent Assembly. The moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, led by Rachid Ghannouchi, wins a majority of seats.

December 13, 2011 – Moncef Marzouki is sworn in as president of Tunisia.

May 23, 2012 – Prosecutors say they will seek a death sentence for Ben Ali, now charged in absentia with ordering the killings of anti-government demonstrators.

June 13, 2012 – Ben Ali is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the deaths of protesters between December 2010 and January 2011. Saudi Arabia does not extradite him.

February 6, 2013 – Opposition leader Chokri Belaid is shot and killed in front of his house as he is leaving for work. In response to widespread protests following Belaid’s death, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announces he will dissolve parliament and form a caretaker government until new elections can be held.

February 19, 2013 – Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigns.

February 22, 2013 – Interior Minister Ali Larayedh is chosen by the ruling party, Ennahda, to be the new prime minister.

July 25, 2013 – Opposition leader Mohammed Al-Brahmi is fatally shot outside his home, setting off mass protests as a second Tunisian opposition leader is assassinated in almost six months.

August 6, 2013 – Tens of thousands of people protest in Tunis in hopes of dissolving the Constituent Assembly.

September 28, 2013 – Tunisia’s governing party, Ennahda, agrees to resign and hand power over to an independent caretaker government until after elections.

October 23, 2013 – Talks intended to select the caretaker government are postponed due to violence and protests.

December 14, 2013 – Mehdi Jomaa, Tunisia’s minister of industry, is selected to serve as caretaker prime minister until the elections, expected in 2014.

January 9, 2014 – Prime Minister Larayedh resigns to allow for the caretaker government to be run by Mehdi Jomaa.

January 26, 2014 – The National Constituent Assembly ratifies a new constitution.

January 28, 2014 – Islamist party Ennahda formally hands over power to the caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa.

October 26, 2014 – Tunisians vote in parliamentary elections, the first since the 2011 revolution. More than 100 political parties have put up candidates for one of 217 seats in the People’s Assembly.

November 23, 2014 – The first free presidential election heads to a December run-off as challenger Beji Caid Essebsi receives only a few more percentage points than incumbent President Moncef Marzouki.

December 22, 2014 – Beji Caid Essebsi is elected president with 55% of the vote, according to state-run media. Marzouki receives 44% of the vote.

January 5, 2015 – Habib Essid is nominated as prime minister and tasked with forming a new government.

March 18, 2015 – A terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis leaves at least 23 dead, many of whom were foreign tourists. The hostage siege ends when security forces kill two of the attackers. President Essebsi later confirms that a third person took part in the museum terror attack and is on the run. Previously, two suspects had been identified — Yassine Labidi and Saber Khachnaou — though it wasn’t immediately clear if they were the pair killed at the museum by Tunisian security forces. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.

June 26, 2015 – A gunman kills at least 38 people at a beachfront Tunisian hotel, the same day terrorists behead a man in France and bomb a mosque in Kuwait. ISIS claims responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait.

July 4, 2015 – President Essebsi declares a state of emergency, saying another attack such as last week’s terrorist massacre at a beach hotel would “cause the country to collapse.”

October 9, 2015 – The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in the country in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

November 24, 2015 – Twelve people are killed when a bus carrying members of Tunisia’s presidential guard explodes in Tunis, according to the Interior Ministry. A suspected suicide bomber also dies. ISIS releases a statement the following day claiming responsibility.

January 22, 2016 – Tunisia’s government announces a nationwide curfew as it counters demonstrations over a scarcity of jobs — protests that come five years after similar complaints in Tunisia spurred the first Arab Spring revolution. France also announces a 1 billion euro aid package over five years to help Tunisia tackle its economic and social challenges.

July 30, 2016 – Tunisia’s parliament passes a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Habib Essid.

August 3, 2016 – President Essebsi names Youssef Chahed as prime minister.

June 4, 2018 – More than 100 die after a boat carrying migrants sinks off the Tunisian coast, marking the highest death toll in any single migration attempt of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

October 29, 2018 – At least nine people are injured after a woman blows herself up in the center of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis.

December 24, 2018 – Abderrazek Zorgui, a journalist, dies after setting himself on fire. In a statement, Tunisia’s national journalists’ union said Zorgui died after he set himself ablaze “due to harsh social circumstances and a lack of hope.” Zorgui’s death prompts protests on the streets of Kesserine in western-central Tunisia.

June 27, 2019 – President Essebsi is rushed to a military hospital suffering a “severe health crisis” shortly after two suicide attacks strike Tunis killing at least one and injuring several others. ISIS claims responsibility for attacks.

July 5, 2019 – Prime Minister Chahed signs an order that prohibits anyone from wearing a niqab, which covers everything but the eyes, from accessing public offices.

July 25, 2019 – President Essebsi dies at Tunis Military Hospital after being transferred “under direct recommendation by his doctors.” Mohamed Ennaceur, Tunisia’s parliament speaker, will serve as acting president.

October 13, 2019 – Kais Saied is elected president of Tunisia.

October 23, 2019 – Saied is sworn in as president.

November 15, 2019 – The Ennahda party names Habib Jemli as its choice to become prime minister.

January 10, 2020 – Tunisia’s parliament rejects Jemli’s proposed government.

January 20, 2020 – Saied designates Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister.

July 15, 2020 Fakhfakh steps down as prime minister. The resignation comes as a campaign to oust him in a vote of no confidence gathered momentum.

July 25, 2020 – Saied designates Hichem Mechichi as prime minister. Parliament approves Mechichi’s government on September 1.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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