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Geography of Tunisia

Learn Information about Africa's Northernmost Country

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Tunisia Flag

The Tunisia flag is 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.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated January 30, 2011

Population: 10,589,025 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Tunis
Bordering Countries: Algeria and Libya
Land Area: 63,170 square miles (163,610 sq km)
Coastline: 713 miles (1,148 km)
Highest Point: Jebel ech Chambi at 5,065 feet (1,544 m)
Lowest Point: Shatt al Gharsah at -55 feet (-17 m)

Tunisia is a country located in northern Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Algeria and Libya and it is considered the northernmost country of Africa. Tunisia has a long history that dates back to ancient times. Today it has strong relations with the European Union as well as the Arab world and its economy is largely based on exports.

Tunisia has recently been in the news due to increasing political and social upheaval. In early 2011, its government collapsed when its president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown. Violent protests ensued and most recently officials were working to regain peace in the country. Tunisians revolted in favor of a democratic government.

History of Tunisia

It is believed that Tunisia was first settled by the Phoenicians in the 12th century B.C.E. After that, by the 5th century B.C.E., the city-state of Carthage dominated the region that is Tunisia today as well as much of the Mediterranean region. In 146 B.C.E., the Mediterranean region was taken over by Rome and Tunisia remained a part of the Roman Empire until it fell in the 5th century C.E.

Following the end of the Roman Empire, Tunisia was invaded by several European powers but in the 7th century, Muslims took over the region. At that time, there was a large amount of migration from the Arab and Ottoman worlds, according to the United States Department of State and by the 15th century, Spanish Muslims as well as Jewish people began migrating to Tunisia.

In the early 1570s, Tunisia was made a part of the Ottoman Empire and it remained as such until the 1881 when it became occupied by France and was made a French protectorate. Tunisia was then controlled by France until 1956 when it became an independent nation.

After gaining its independence, Tunisia remained closely connected to France economically and politically and it developed strong ties with western nations, including the United States. This led to some political instability in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1990s though, Tunisia's economy began to improve, although it was under authoritarian rule that led to severe unrest in late 2010 and early 2011 and the eventual overthrow of its government.

Government of Tunisia

Today Tunisia is considered a republic and it was goverend as such since 1987 by its president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. President Ben Ali was overthrown in early 2011 however and the country is working to restructure its government. Tunisia has a bicameral legislative branch that is comprised of the Chamber of Advisors and the Chamber of Deputies. Tunisia's judicial branch is made up of the Court of Cassation. The country is divided into 24 governorates for local administration.

Economics and Land Use of Tunisia

Tunisia has a growing, diverse economy that is focused on agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing. The main industries in the country are petroleum, the mining of phosphate and iron ore, textiles, footwear, agribusiness and beverage. Because tourism is also a large industry in Tunisia, the service sector is also large. The main agricultural products of Tunisia are olives and olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds, beef and dairy products.

Geography and Climate of Tunisia

Tunisia is located in northern Africa along the Mediterranean Sea (map). It is a relatively small African nation as it covers an area of just 63,170 square miles (163,610 sq km). Tunisia is located between Algeria and Libya and it has a varied topography. In the north, Tunisia is mountainous, while the central part of the country features a dry plain. The southern part of Tunisia is semiarid and becomes arid desert closer to the Sahara Desert. Tunisia also has a fertile coastal plain called the Sahel along its eastern Mediterranean coast. This area is famous for its olives.

The highest point in Tunisia is Jebel ech Chambi at 5,065 feet (1,544 m) and it is located in the northern part of the country near the town Kasserine. Tunisia's lowest point is Shatt al Gharsah at -55 feet (-17 m). This area is in the central part of Tunisia near its border with Algeria.

The climate of Tunisia varies with location but the north is mainly temperate and it has mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. In the south, the climate is hot, arid desert. Tunisia's capital and largest city, Tunis, is located along the Mediterranean coast and it has an average January low temperature of 43˚F (6˚C) and an average August high temperature of 91˚F (33˚C). Because of the hot desert climate in southern Tunisia, there are very few large cities in that region of the country.

To learn more about Tunisia, visit the Tunisia page in the Geography and Maps section on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (3 January 2011). CIA - the World Factbook - Tunisia. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ts.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Tunisia: History, Geography, Government, and Culture - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108050.html

United States Department of State. (13 October 2010). Tunisia. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5439.htm

Wikipedia.org. (11 January 2011). Tunisia - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia

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