TunisiaBy, Ethan Paulson
Tunisia-flag.gif
FlagRed is a traditional color of Islam and was the color adopted by the Ottoman Empire who ruled Tunisia from late 16th century until 1881. It also came to represent resistance against Turkish supremacy. The crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam and are also considered to be lucky symbols. The white circle represents the sun.

Physical Geography
Tunisia covers 63,170 square miles (163,610 square kilometers) and is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Georgia. Hundreds of miles of sandy beaches line Tunisia's Mediterranean coastline. The coastal plains on the east rise to a north-south escarpment that slopes gently to the west. The Sahara Desert lies in the southernmost part. Tunisia is more mountainous in the north, where the Atlas range continues from Algeria.
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Map of Tunisia
·
Capital: Tunis

· Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E total: 163,610 sq km
· Land: 155,360 sq km
· Water: 8,250 sq km
· Area - comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
· Land boundaries: total: 1,424 km
· Border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
· Coastline: 1,148 km
· Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
· Contiguous zone: 24 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 extremes: lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
· Highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
· Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt

Population
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Population density map of Tunisia.

· Population 10,629,186 (July 2011 est.)
· Age structure: 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.)
· Median age: total: 30 years
male: 29.6 years
female: 30.4 years (2011 est.)
· Population growth rate
-0.978% (2011 est.)
· Birth rate
-17.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
· Death rate
-5.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Sociology
· Social structure and classes - Classes and Castes. Tunisian society is marked by class distinctions, with considerable upward mobility and fuzzy class awareness. Class distinctions based on wealth are the most apparent, with enormous differences between the wealthy bourgeoisie living in the affluent suburbs of Tunis and the rural and urban poor. Wealth in one generation leads to improved education in the next. Status through ancestry is relatively unimportant.

Customs
· Celebrations - Secular holidays are New Year's Day, Independence Day (20 Mar.), Martyr's Day (9 Apr.), Labor Day (1 May), Republic Day (25 July), Women's Day (13 Aug.), Evacuation Day (the day in 1963 when the last of the French troops returned to France, 15 October), and the Second Revolution (the day that Ben Ali assumed power, 7 November). Muslim holidays follow the lunar calendar. The most important holiday period is Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer. While Muslims do not eat, drink, or smoke from sunrise to sundown each day during Ramadan, they participate in lively evenings that involve special foods, carnivals, shopping, and festivals. Eid al-Saghir, a two-day holiday, marks the end of Ramadan. People wear their best clothes to visit friends and relatives, and they trade pastries as presents.

· Marriage/Dating - Western dating practices were traditionally considered unacceptable, but attitudes are gradually changing. Rural marriages—sometimes between cousins—often are still arranged by parents, but urban youth have increasing opportunities to meet and become acquainted independently. Their parents still have a strong voice in whom they marry, but the couples have the final say. In all areas, weddings and social gatherings provide a chance for young people to meet. Tunisian men often delay marriage, as a man is expected to provide a considerable dowry to the bride's family before a marriage can take place. Traditional weddings, particularly in rural areas, are celebrated over several days, even weeks, through ritualized ceremonies and parties.

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Fouad M'BAZAA (Chief of State)
Government

Tunisia is a republic divided into 24 governorates. The central government is headed by a president, who is elected to a five-year term. The president appoints a prime minister and a Council of Ministers. Members of the lower house of Parliament, the 214-seat Chamber of Deputies (Majlis al-Nuwaab), are directly elected to five-year terms. Parliament's upper house is the 126-seat Chamber of Councilors. Elected officials (from the lower house and city councils) choose 85 of its members to represent unions and governorates; the president appoints the remaining 41 members. The voting age is 18. The RCD is the dominant party.
· 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)

Economy
Agriculture, light industry, and services all play key roles in Tunisia's economy. Agriculture is especially important in the interior and along the Sahel coast; olives and dates are exported. Other agricultural products include olive oil, grain, dairy products, tomatoes, citrus fruit, beef, sugar beets, dates, and almonds. The textile industry (mostly for export) provides jobs for thousands of laborers, as does tourism, Tunisia's main source of hard currency. Most tourists come from Germany and France. Remittances from Tunisians in France and income from oil, phosphates, and iron ore are also vital. Eighty percent of all exports go to Europe. The economy is shifting toward a free market, and economic growth has generally been high. Tunisia has a well-educated workforce, but unemployment remains a significant problem with serious social implications. The currency is the Tunisian dinar (TND).
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity)
$100.3 billion (2010 est.)
$97.03 billion (2009 est.)
$94.22 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)
$43.86 billion (2010 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
3.4% (2010 est.)
3% (2009 est.)
4.6% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$9,500 (2010 est.)
$9,300 (2009 est.)
$9,100 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

Culture
Listening to music, watching videos or television, going to the beach, playing soccer and beach volleyball (mostly men), and visiting friends and relatives are among the most popular leisure activities. Soccer is the most popular sport. Most people enjoy chess and shkubbah, a traditional card game. Coffeehouses are extremely popular among men, who go there to play cards, discuss sports and politics, conduct business, and drink coffee. Women usually do not go to coffeehouses unless in the company of male relatives. In rural areas, the weekly souk (market) is a focal point of activity; people come to buy goods and produce, to trade, and to socialize. On the night of a souk, families often enjoy a meal of couscous topped with fresh vegetables.
Architecture and art from several ancient civilizations are ubiquitous. For example, the town of Dougga dates back to the Byzantine Empire. Roman mosaics are found everywhere. Tunisians are dedicated to preserving their rich heritage, for which the government provides financial support.
The government sponsors the Carthage Film Festival, held biannually, as a showcase for African and Arab films. Summer music and arts festivals attract large crowds. Strongly associated with Tunisian national identity, malouf is a musical style played by small orchestras with instruments such as drums, lutes, sitars, and violins. Calligraphy and fine arts such as painting on glass and miniatures are deeply embedded in the nation's past and present. Painting often combines native and French influences.

Ethnic/Religious Makeup
Islam is the official religion, and 98 percent of Tunisians are Muslim. The majority are Sunni Muslims of the Malikite tradition, as founded by Malik ibn Anas. He codified Islamic traditions and stressed the importance of community consensus (as opposed to Shiʿi Muslims, who instead emphasize the authority of Muhammad's descendants). Islam plays an important role in daily life, especially during family events such as births, circumcisions, weddings, and burials. Friday is Islam's holy day; government offices and many businesses close at 1 p.m. Muslims accept the Qurʾan as scripture, believing it was revealed by Allah (God) to the prophet Muhammad. Abraham is honored as the father of Muslims. Muhammad is considered the last and greatest prophet. In addition to attending Friday prayer services at the mosque, devout Muslims pray five times daily. However, most Tunisians do not strictly follow this practice. In villages without mosques, zawiyya (small mausoleums built in memory of especially holy men) are the main centers for religious activity. One percent of the population is Christian and a smaller number is Jewish.


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Tunisian Revolt
Problems

1. Toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks
2. Water pollution from raw sewage
3. Limited natural fresh water resources
4. Deforestation and soil erosion
5. Citizens want more political freedom.
Solutions
1. Place a corrective tax on businesses that pollute, therefore making them adopt cleaner waste disposal practices
2. Create a waste disposal plant and hire people to work this job. Sanitation is a major issue, and by dealing with it like this, everyone would be better off.
3. Set up a water conservation program during the worst times of the year, and start a pipeline for fresh water.
4. Offer rewards to anyone who adopts soil conservation practices, and subsidize replanting for foresters.
5. Give them more political freedom, or they will continue to revolt.

Questions
1. What is the capital of Tunisia?
2. What U.S. State is comparatively close in size to Tunisia?
3. Who is the current leader of Tunisia?
4. What is the primary religion in Tunisia?
5. What countries border Tunisia?
Answers
1. Tunis
2. Slightly larger than Georgia
3. Fouad M'BAZAA
4. Islam
5. Algeria and Libya