Photos of Tunisia

"Carthage is situated at the inmost point of a gulf into which it protrudes on a strip of land, almost entirely surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other by a lake," observed the Greek historian Polybius in the second century BC. He pointed out some of the features that made Carthage attractive for human occupation for centuries. Today, Carthage is a suburb of Tunis, the capital city of northern Africa's Tunisia. Although cityscape covers most of the ancient port city, the area's attractions to ancient mariners remain apparent.
In the east, Carthage narrows to a point that stretches into the Gulf of Tunis. From that point, skinny strips of land extend toward the northwest and southwest, both strips enclosing water bodies. North of Carthage is Sebkhet Arina, a shallow evaporative lake. Rocky outcrops connected by sand separate this shallow lake from the Gulf of Tunis. South of Carthage is Lake Tunis, a water body actively modified and maintained by humans over thousands of years. 
Skilled merchants and mariners, the ancient Phoenicians founded Carthage probably sometime between 817 and 748 BC. Romans destroyed the city in the Punic Wars around 146 BC, but eventually rebuilt in the same area.This image courtesy of NASA.

Introduction

Background

Many empires have controlled Tunisia, including the Phoenicians (as early as the 12 century B.C.), Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, various Arab and Berber kingdoms, and Ottomans (16th to late-19th centuries). 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 after World War I finally convinced 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. In 1987, Zine el Abidine BEN ALI replaced BOURGUIBA in a bloodless coup.

Street protests that began in Tunis in 2010 over high unemployment, corruption, widespread poverty, and high food prices escalated in 2011, culminating in rioting that led to hundreds of deaths and later became known as the start of the regional Arab Spring uprising. BEN ALI dismissed the government and fled the country, and a "national unity government" was formed. Elections for the new Constituent Assembly were held later that year, and human rights activist Moncef MARZOUKI was elected as interim president. The Assembly began drafting a new constitution in 2012 and, after several iterations and a months-long political crisis that stalled the transition, ratified the document in 2014. Parliamentary and presidential elections for a permanent government were held at the end of 2014. Beji CAID ESSEBSI was elected as the first president under the country's new constitution. After ESSEBSI’s death in office in 2019, Kais SAIED was elected. SAIED's term, as well as that of Tunisia's 217-member parliament, was set to expire in 2024. However, in 2021, SAIED used the exceptional powers allowed under Tunisia's constitution to dismiss the prime minister and suspend the legislature. Tunisians approved a new constitution through public referendum in 2022, expanding presidential powers and creating a new bicameral legislature. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya

Geographic coordinates

34 00 N, 9 00 E

Area

total: 163,610 sq km

land: 155,360 sq km

water: 8,250 sq km

comparison ranking: total 93

Area - comparative

slightly larger than Georgia

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 1,495 km

border countries (2): Algeria 1,034 km; Libya 461 km

Coastline

1,148 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 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

Elevation

highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m

lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m

mean elevation: 246 m

Natural resources

petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt

Land use

agricultural land: 64.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 18.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 31.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 6.6% (2018 est.)

other: 28.6% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,920 sq km (2013)

Major aquifers

North Western Sahara Aquifer System

Population distribution

the overwhelming majority of the population is located in the northern half of the country; the south remains largely underpopulated as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

flooding; earthquakes; droughts

Geography - note

strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration

People and Society

Population

total: 12,048,847

male: 5,972,242

female: 6,076,605 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 81; male 82; total 81

Nationality

noun: Tunisian(s)

adjective: Tunisian

Ethnic groups

Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Languages

Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce), Tamazight; note - despite having no official status, French plays a major role in the country and is spoken by about two thirds of the population

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، أحسن كتاب تتعلم به المعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, une source indispensable d'informations de base. (French)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:
French audio sample:

Religions

Muslim (official; Sunni) 99%, other (includes Christian, Jewish, Shia Muslim, and Baha'i) <1%

MENA religious affiliation

Demographic profile

The Tunisian Government took steps in the 1960s to decrease population growth and gender inequality in order to improve socioeconomic development. Through its introduction of a national family planning program (the first in Africa) and by raising the legal age of marriage, Tunisia rapidly reduced its total fertility rate from about 7 children per woman in 1960 to 2 in 2022. Unlike many of its North African and Middle Eastern neighbors, Tunisia will soon be shifting from being a youth-bulge country to having a transitional age structure, characterized by lower fertility and mortality rates, a slower population growth rate, a rising median age, and a longer average life expectancy.

Currently, the sizable young working-age population is straining Tunisia’s labor market and education and health care systems. Persistent high unemployment among Tunisia’s growing workforce, particularly its increasing number of university graduates and women, was a key factor in the uprisings that led to the overthrow of the BEN ALI regime in 2011. In the near term, Tunisia’s large number of jobless young, working-age adults; deficiencies in primary and secondary education; and the ongoing lack of job creation and skills mismatches could contribute to future unrest. In the longer term, a sustained low fertility rate will shrink future youth cohorts and alleviate demographic pressure on Tunisia’s labor market, but employment and education hurdles will still need to be addressed.

Tunisia has a history of labor emigration. In the 1960s, workers migrated to European countries to escape poor economic conditions and to fill Europe’s need for low-skilled labor in construction and manufacturing. The Tunisian Government signed bilateral labor agreements with France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and the Netherlands, with the expectation that Tunisian workers would eventually return home. At the same time, growing numbers of Tunisians headed to Libya, often illegally, to work in the expanding oil industry. In the mid-1970s, with European countries beginning to restrict immigration and Tunisian-Libyan tensions brewing, Tunisian economic migrants turned toward the Gulf countries. After mass expulsions from Libya in 1983, Tunisian migrants increasingly sought family reunification in Europe or moved illegally to southern Europe, while Tunisia itself developed into a transit point for Sub-Saharan migrants heading to Europe.

Following the ousting of BEN ALI in 2011, the illegal migration of unemployed Tunisian youths to Italy and onward to France soared into the tens of thousands. Thousands more Tunisian and foreign workers escaping civil war in Libya flooded into Tunisia and joined the exodus. A readmission agreement signed by Italy and Tunisia in April 2011 helped stem the outflow, leaving Tunisia and international organizations to repatriate, resettle, or accommodate some 1 million Libyans and third-country nationals.

Age structure

0-14 years: 24.4% (male 1,516,871/female 1,426,522)

15-64 years: 65.2% (male 3,861,731/female 3,990,802)

65 years and over: 10.4% (2024 est.) (male 593,640/female 659,281)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.9

youth dependency ratio: 36.3

elderly dependency ratio: 13.3

potential support ratio: 7.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 34.4 years (2024 est.)

male: 33.6 years

female: 35.1 years

comparison ranking: total 102

Population growth rate

0.58% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 143

Birth rate

13.5 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Death rate

6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 143

Net migration rate

-1.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 154

Population distribution

the overwhelming majority of the population is located in the northern half of the country; the south remains largely underpopulated as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 70.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.34% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

2.475 million TUNIS (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

37 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 108

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 12.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 9.8 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 119

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.3 years (2024 est.)

male: 75.7 years

female: 79.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 93

Total fertility rate

1.93 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 115

Gross reproduction rate

0.94 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 97.3% of population

total: 99.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 2.7% of population

total: 0.8% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.3% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

1.3 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.8% of population

rural: 99.4% of population

total: 99% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.2% of population

rural: 0.6% of population

total: 1% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

26.9% (2016)

comparison ranking: 40

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 1.51 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.99 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.32 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.17 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.03 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 139

Tobacco use

total: 24.6% (2020 est.)

male: 47.2% (2020 est.)

female: 2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 52

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 1.5% (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

7.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 17

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 82.7%

male: 89.1%

female: 82.7% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 14 years

female: 16 years (2016)

Environment

Environment - current issues

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

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Climate

temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south

Land use

agricultural land: 64.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 18.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 31.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 6.6% (2018 est.)

other: 28.6% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 70.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.34% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.21% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 92

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 99

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 26.52 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 29.94 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 7.89 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 2.7 million tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 108,000 tons (2014 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 4% (2014 est.)

Major aquifers

North Western Sahara Aquifer System

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 820 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 60 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 2.71 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

4.62 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Tunisia

conventional short form: Tunisia

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah

local short form: Tunis

etymology: the country name derives from the capital city of Tunis

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Tunis

geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: three possibilities exist for the derivation of the name; originally a Berber settlement (earliest reference 4th century B.C.), the strategic site fell to the Carthaginians (Phoenicians) and the city could be named after the Punic goddess Tanit, since many ancient cities were named after patron deities; alternatively, the Berber root word "ens," which means "to lie down" or "to pass the night," may indicate that the site was originally a camp or rest stop; finally, the name may be the same as the city of Tynes, mentioned in the writings of some ancient authors

Administrative divisions

24 governorates (wilayat, singular - wilayah); 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), L'Ariana (Aryanah), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Manouba (Manubah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bouzid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)

Independence

20 March 1956 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 20 March (1956); Revolution and Youth Day, 14 January (2011)

Constitution

history:

several previous; latest - draft published by the president 30 June 2022, approved by referendum 25 July 2022, and adopted 27 July 2022



amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by one third of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People membership; following review by the Constitutional Court, approval to proceed requires an absolute majority vote by the Assembly and final passage requires a two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly; the president can opt to submit an amendment to a referendum, which requires an absolute majority of votes cast for passage

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law, based on the French civil code and Islamic (sharia) law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Tunisia

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

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

Executive branch

chief of state: President Kais SAIED (since 23 October 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed HACHANI (since 1 August 2023)

cabinet: prime minister appointed by the president; cabinet members appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 15 September 2019 with a runoff on 13 October 2019 (next to be held in 2024)

election results:
2019:
Kais SAIED elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Kais SAIED (independent) 18.4%, Nabil KAROUI (Heart of Tunisia) 15.6%, Abdelfattah MOUROU (Nahda Movement) 12.9%, Abdelkrim ZBIDI (independent) 10.7%, Youssef CHAHED (Long Live Tunisia) 7.4%, Safi SAID (independent) 7.1%, Lotfi MRAIHI (Republican People's Union) 6.6%, other 21.3%; percent of vote in second round - Kais SAIED 72.7%, Nabil KAROUI 27.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 



note: the president can dismiss any member of government on his own initiative or in consultation with the prime minister

Legislative branch

description: bicameral legislature (enacted by the 2022 constitution) consists of:
newly added National Council of Regions and Districts (Le Conseil National des regions et des districts); (77 seats; members appointed by municipal-level councils; members of each Regional Council elect 3 members among themselves to the National Council; each District Council elects 1 member among themselves to the National Council; members serve 5-year term)
Assembly of Representatives of the People (161 seats; 151 members in single seat constituencies and 10 members from Tunisian diaspora directly elected by majoritarian two-round voting system; all members serve 5-year terms)

elections: National Council of Regions and Districts - last held on 24 December 2023 for 279 local councils, which will indirectly elect the National Council (next to be held in 2028)
Assembly of Representatives of the People - last held on 17 December 2022 with a runoff on 29 January 2023 (next to be held in late 2027)

election results: note: in 2022, President SAIED issued a new electoral law, which required all legislative candidates to run as independents

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Cassation (consists of the first president, chamber presidents, and magistrates and organized into 27 civil and 11 criminal chambers)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council, an independent 4-part body consisting mainly of elected judges and the remainder legal specialists; judge tenure based on terms of appointment; Constitutional Court (established in the 2014 and 2022 constitutions, but inception has been delayed; note - in mid-February 2022, President SAIED dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council and replaced it with an interim council in early March 2022

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; administrative courts; Court of Audit; Housing Court; courts of first instance; lower district courts; military courts

note: the Tunisian constitution of January 2014 called for the establishment of a constitutional court by the end of 2015, but the court was never formed; the new constitution of July 2022 calls for the establishment of a constitutional court consisting of 9 members appointed by presidential decree; members to include former senior judges of other courts

Political parties and leaders

Afek Tounes [Rym MAHJOUB]
Al Badil Al-Tounisi (The Tunisian Alternative) [Mehdi JOMAA]
Al-Amal Party [Salma ELLOUMIJ]
Call for Tunisia Party (Nidaa Tounes) [Ali HAFSI]
Current of Love [Hachemi HAMDI] (formerly the Popular Petition party)
Democratic Current [Ghazi CHAOUACHI]
Democratic Patriots' Unified Party [Zied LAKHDHAR]
Dignity Coalition or Al Karama Coalition [Seifeddine MAKHLOUF]
Ennahda Movement (The Renaissance) [Rached GHANNOUCHI]
Ettakatol Party [Khalil ZAOUIA]
Free Destourian Party or PDL [Abir MOUSSI]
Green Tunisia Party [Abdelkader ZITOUNI]
Harakat Hak [Mohsen MARZOUK]
Heart of Tunisia (Qalb Tounes) [Nabil KAROUI]
July 25 Movement [Thameur BDIDA]
Labor and Achievement Party [Abdellatif MEKKI]
Long Live Tunisia (Tahya Tounes) [Youssef CHAHED]
Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ahmed KHASKHOUSSI]
National Coalition Party [Neji JALLOUL]
National Salvation Front [Ahmed Nejib CHEBBI]
New Carthage Party [Nizar CHAARI]
Party of the Democratic Arab Vanguard [Kheireddine SOUABNI]
People's Movement [Zouheir MAGHZAOUI]
Republican Party (Al Joumhouri) [Issam CHEBBI]
The Movement Party (Hizb Harak) [Moncef MARZOUKI]
Third Republic Party [Olfa HAMDI]
Tunisian Ba'ath Movement [Othmen Bel Haj AMOR]
Voice of the Republic [Ali HAFSI]
Workers' Party [Hamma HAMMAMI]

note: President SAIED in 2022 issued a decree that forbids political parties' participation in legislative elections; although parties remain a facet of Tunisian political life, they have lost significant influence

International organization participation

ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AIIB, AMF, AMU, AU, BSEC (observer), CAEU, CD, EBRD, FAO, G-11, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNOOSA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Hanene TAJOURI BESSASSI (since 1 December 2021)

chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005

telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850

FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858

email address and website:
AT.Washington@Tunisiaembassy.org

https://www.tunisianembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Joey HOOD (since 2 February 2023)

embassy: Les Berges du Lac, 1053 Tunis

mailing address: 6360 Tunis Place, Washington DC  20521-6360

telephone: [216] 71-107-000

FAX: [216] 71-107-090

email address and website:
tuniswebsitecontact@state.gov

https://tn.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

encircled red crescent moon and five-pointed star; national colors: red, white

National anthem

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 9 (8 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Amphitheatre of El Jem (c); Archaeological Site of Carthage (c); Medina of Tunis (c); Ichkeul National Park (n); Punic Town of Kerkuane (c); Kairouan (c); Medina of Sousse (c); Dougga / Thugga (c); Djerba: Testimony to a settlement pattern in an island territory (c)

Economy

Economic overview

lower middle-income North African economy; drafting reforms for foreign lenders; high unemployment, especially for youth and women; hit hard by COVID-19; high public sector wages; high public debt; protectionist austerity measures; key EU trade partner

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$130.592 billion (2022 est.)
$127.485 billion (2021 est.)
$122.105 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 85

Real GDP growth rate

2.44% (2022 est.)
4.41% (2021 est.)
-8.82% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 155

Real GDP per capita

$10,600 (2022 est.)
$10,400 (2021 est.)
$10,000 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 141

GDP (official exchange rate)

$46.304 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8.31% (2022 est.)
5.71% (2021 est.)
5.63% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 136

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2018)

Standard & Poors rating: N/A (2013)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 10.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 26.2% (2017 est.)

services: 63.8% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 100; industry 106; agriculture 90

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 71.7% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 20.8% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 43.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -55.2% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, olives, tomatoes, wheat, barley, watermelons, chilies/peppers, potatoes, dates, oranges (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate, iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages

Industrial production growth rate

-0.33% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 166

Labor force

4.36 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 94

Unemployment rate

17.76% (2022 est.)
18.52% (2021 est.)
18.63% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 202

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 38.3% (2021 est.)

male: 37.1%

female: 41.2%

comparison ranking: total 19

Population below poverty line

16.6% (2021 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

32.8 (2015 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 125

Average household expenditures

on food: 24.2% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 3.4% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 25.6% (2015 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

6.68% of GDP (2022 est.)
6.61% of GDP (2021 est.)
5.57% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $10.866 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $12.375 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 179

Public debt

70.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
62.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 56

Taxes and other revenues

24.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 54

Current account balance

-$4.018 billion (2022 est.)
-$2.794 billion (2021 est.)
-$2.536 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 168

Exports

$17.288 billion (2022 est.)
$14.067 billion (2021 est.)
$11.213 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 94

Exports - partners

France 22%, Italy 16%, Germany 14%, Spain 4%, Libya 4% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

garments, insulated wire, refined petroleum, crude petroleum, pure olive oil (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$22.536 billion (2022 est.)
$18.215 billion (2021 est.)
$14.554 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 92

Imports - partners

Italy 14%, France 14%, China 9%, Germany 7%, Turkey 6% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, natural gas, plastic products, wheat, cars (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$8.094 billion (2022 est.)
$8.846 billion (2021 est.)
$9.811 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 84

Debt - external

$35.911 billion (2019 est.)
$33.79 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Exchange rates

Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
3.104 (2022 est.)
2.794 (2021 est.)
2.812 (2020 est.)
2.934 (2019 est.)
2.647 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) less than 1 million

electrification - total population: 99.9% (2020)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 99.6% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 5.777 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 16,737,180,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 631 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 472 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 3.641 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 81; transmission/distribution losses 156; imports 89; exports 71; consumption 77

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 95.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 1.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 2.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 5,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 5,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 42,500 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 107,700 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 29,400 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 10,200 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 425 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

27,770 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Refined petroleum products - exports

13,660 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 75

Refined petroleum products - imports

85,340 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 58

Natural gas

production: 1,025,974,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 5,279,951,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 4,305,994,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 65.129 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

23.692 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 16,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 12.982 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 10.694 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 81

Energy consumption per capita

35.62 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 114

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1.79 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 55

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 15.971 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 129 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 69

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Tunisia has one of the most sophisticated telecom infrastructures in North Africa; penetration rates for mobile and Internet services are among the highest in the region; government program of regulation and infrastructure projects aims to improve Internet connectivity to underserved areas; operators built extensive LTE infrastructure in 2019, and continue to discuss plans for future 5G networks and services; one operator has signed an agreement to pursue nano-satellite launches in 2023; internet censorship abolished, though concerns of government surveillance remain; legislation passed in 2017 supporting e-commerce and active e-government; importer of some integrated circuits and broadcasting equipment (including radio, television, and communications transmitters) from the PRC (2022)

domestic: fixed-line is nearly 14 per 100 and mobile-cellular teledensity is 129 telephones per 100 persons (2022)

international: country code - 216; landing points for the SEA-ME-WE-4, Didon, HANNIBAL System and Trapani-Kelibia submarine cable systems that provides links to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Southeast 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 (2020)

Broadcast media

2 state-owned TV stations; 10 private TV stations broadcast locally; satellite TV service is available; state-owned radio network with 2 stations; several dozen private radio stations and community radio stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters available (2019)

Internet users

total: 9.48 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 79% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 60

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,334,059 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 67

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 53

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 4,274,199 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 13.23 million (2018) mt-km

Airports

14 (2024)

comparison ranking: 149

Heliports

11 (2024)

Pipelines

68 km condensate, 3,111 km gas, 1,381 km oil, 453 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 2,173 km (2014) (1,991 in use)

standard gauge: 471 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 1,694 km (2014) 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified)

dual gauge: 8 km (2014) 1.435-1.000-m gauge

comparison ranking: total 70

Roadways

total: 32,332 km

paved: 12,264 km

unpaved: 20,068 km (2020)

comparison ranking: total 97

Merchant marine

total: 72 (2023)

by type: container ship 1, general cargo 8, oil tanker 1, other 62

comparison ranking: total 107

Ports

total ports: 16 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 3

small: 7

very small: 6

ports with oil terminals: 10

key ports: Ashtart Oil Terminal, Banzart, Didon Terminal, Gabes, La Goulette, Menzel Bourguiba, Mersa Sfax, Sousse, Tazerka Oil Terminal, Tunis

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Tunisian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Tunisiennes, FAT): Tunisian Army (includes Air Defense Force), Tunisian Navy, Tunisia Air Force

Ministry of Interior: National Police, National Guard (2024)

note: the National Police has primary responsibility for law enforcement in the major cities, while the National Guard (gendarmerie) oversees border security and patrols smaller towns and rural areas

Military expenditures

2.5% of GDP (2023 est.)
2.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
3% of GDP (2021 est.)
3% of GDP (2020 est.)
3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 42

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 35,000 active-duty personnel (25,000 Army; 5,000 Navy; 5,000 Air Force); estimated 10,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Tunisian military's inventory includes mostly older or second-hand NATO-standard (US and European) equipment; in recent years, the US has been the leading supplier of arms to Tunisia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

20-23 years of age for compulsory service for men with a 12-month service obligation; individuals engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed their programs (up to age 35); exemptions allowed for males considered to a family's sole provider; 18-23 years of age for voluntary service for men and women (2023)

note 1: approximately 20-25,000 active military personnel are conscripts

note 2: women have been allowed in the service since 1975 as volunteers; the Tunisian Government has discussed the possibility of conscripting women as recently as 2018; as of 2023, women constituted about 8% of the military and served in all three services

Military deployments

775 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (2024)

Military - note

the FAT is responsible for territorial defense and internal security; its operational areas of focus are countering Islamic terrorist groups and assisting with securing the border; it is conducting counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations against militant groups linked to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State of ash-Sham (ISIS) who are fighting a low-intensity insurgency, mostly in the mountainous region along the border with Algeria, particularly the Chaambi Mountains near the city of Kasserine; the military has the lead role for security in this area and also routinely conducts joint operations with Algerian security forces against these groups, as well to counter smuggling and trafficking activities; the FAT in recent years also has increased its role in securing the southern border against militant activity, smuggling, and trafficking from war-torn Libya; in the remote southern areas of the border with Libya, buffer/exclusion zones have also been established where the military has the lead for counterterrorism efforts; outside of these border areas, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has the responsibility for counterterrorism, particularly for urban areas; the National Police Anti-Terrorism Brigade and the National Guard Special Unit have the lead for MOI counterterrorism operations

the FAT has historically remained largely apolitical and stayed out of the country’s economy; following Tunisia’s 1956 independence, FAT officers were legally prohibited from joining political parties, and the military did not intervene to prop up BEN ALI in 2011; nevertheless, President SAIED’s use of military courts to try civilians and placement of military troops outside of the parliament building after he dissolved the Assembly in 2021 has raised concerns of military politicization
 
the FAT conducts bilateral and multinational training exercises with a variety of countries, including Algeria and other North African and Middle Eastern countries, France, and the US, as well as NATO; it also participates in UN peacekeeping operations; the Army has five combat brigades, including three mechanized infantry, a desert patrol, and a special forces brigade, as well as an armored reconnaissance regiment; the Navy is a coastal defense force with a limited inventory of offshore patrol ships complemented by a mix of small, fast attack and patrol craft; the Air Force largely supports the Army’s operations; it has a handful of older US-made fighter aircraft and a few dozen combat helicopters, mostly of French and US origin 

Tunisia has Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation (2023)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) network in Tunisia (known locally as Ajnad al-Khilafah or the Army of the Caliphate); al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues