Tunisia

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 10
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 64%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.2%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (kmē) : 16,610


Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Arab (98 %)
European (1 %)



Main Cities Population
Tunis 728 453
Sfax 265 131
Susah 173 047
At-Tadaman 118 487
Al-Qayrawan 117 903
Qabis 116 323



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Tunis (GMT+1 in winter, GMT+2 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Official language: Arabic
The majority of Tunisians can speak French, which is used for business and sometimes for administrative purposes.

Free translation tools

Arjeeb
Free English-Arabic-English translation of texts and web pages

Ectaco
Free Arabic-English-Arabic dictionary





Religion
Religious practises : Muslims 98%
Christians 1%
Jews 1%.


Political context

Tunisia is a republic state having a strong presidential form of government. Tunisia (official name: Tunisian Republic) was a French colony up to 1956 and is now having strong economic ties with the European Union.
President is the chief of the state and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term (with no limit to the number of terms). The constitution of the country gives President immense powers, including all executive powers. President selects the Prime Minister (who acts as head of the government) and the Cabinet, rules by decree when the legislature is not in session, and appoints the governors of Tunisia's 23 provinces. Prime Minister mainly helps in the execution of the policies set by the President.
The legislature is bicameral in Tunisia. The Parliament consists of two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) having 89 seats with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms and the Chamber of Advisors (the upper house) having 126 seats with 85 of its members elected by municipal counsellors, professional associations and trade unions and 41 members are presidential appointees, to serve six-year terms. The legislature serves as a rubber stamp for the President's policies and does not provide a check on executive power. President can dissolve the Parliament if he wishes so. The people of Tunisia have very limited political rights.
Judiciary is not independent in Tunisia. The government has always used courts to convict and imprison critics. The main source of the law is the constitution of 1959 (amended in 1988, 2002). The country's legal system is based on French civil law system and Shari'a (Islamic law); in addition to judicial reviews of the various legislative acts. Arabic is the judicial language used in the country, though French is also widely used in business.
Tunisia is not ruled by law. There is highest restriction on freedom of press in Tunisia when compared to other Arab world countries. The government refuses to legalize even highly independent human rights organizations. Foreign nationals cannot expect an impartial trial from the country's judicial system. A considerable degree of corruption exists in the country, especially in the government including petty corruption and bribe taking by security forces.


Major political parties

Tunisia is a one party dominant state with RCD (Democratic Constitutional Rally, a socialist democratic party linked with trade unions) in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. The two main opposition parties are:
- MDS (Movement of Socialist Democrats) - a social democratic party, pro-Islamic,
- PUP (Party of People's Unity) - a socialist party, advocates nationalism.


Major political leaders

President: Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (since November 1987, re-elected fourth time in October 2004) - RCD
Prime Minister: Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since November 1999) - RCD


Next political election dates




Climate

 

 

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Tunisia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 5,998 6,378 6,550
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
- Tunis: the Africa building, the Bardo Museum, the Islamic Ceramic Museum
- Carthage: aqueduct: 344 arches - 141 km long, the national Museum.
- Djerba: El Jem: archaeological Museum, beaches.
- Kairouan: national Museum of Islamic arts.
- The following tourist places are part of the world patrimony:
- Carthage (archeological site)
- Dougga / Thugga
- El Jem (Roman amphitheatre)

For more information about tourism in Tunisia , check out the following web site(s) :
Tunisian National Tourism Office.



Food


Traditional dishes
The Tunisian food is famous for its lamb-based dishes. The following specialties can be found:
Couscous
Tajines (kind of meat stews)
Bric: mutton-based dishes
The Tunisian dishes are very flavoured: caraway, coriander, saffron, cinnamon, anisee, mint, orange, rose water.


Food-related taboos
Eating pork is prohibited and the sale of alcohol is limited.

Last modified on January 2008

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