Tunisians have traded and interacted with other Mediterranean cultures since 12th century BC. Ancient Carthage, the great city-state founded in 814 BC, so prospered in trade and commerce that it is attracted the eyes of an expanding Romans Empire. The fall of Carthage in the second century BC ushered in nearly 700 years of Roman rule. Tunisia prospered as the granary of the Roman Empire. Many splendid archaeological sites which dot the Tunisian landscape today attest to Tunisia’s prominent position in the empire. In the seventh century AD, Islamic conquest reached Tunisia. The city of Kairouan became the center of religious life and the site of one of Islam’s most ancient and holiest mosques. In the ensuing centuries, Islamic civilization enriched Tunisia during five dynasties both Arab and Ottoman.
By the 16th century, Tunisia was under Ottoman control, and a dynasty of Beys governed the country. In the 19th century, Tunisia was the first Arab country to promulgate a constitution and ban slavery, but economic problems, abuses by the Beys and foreign interference were the source of increased instability. In 1881, France declared Tunisia a protectorate generating a strong ant colonial reaction in the country.
In 1920, the Liberal Constitutional Party (the Destour) was formed by Tunisian nationalists. The breakaway Neo-Destour Party, formed in 1934, eventually became the driving force behind Tunisian independence.
After a long struggle, Tunisia finally won its independence on March 20, 1956. On July 25, 1957, Tunisia was proclaimed a Republic and Habib Bourguiba became the first President of Tunisia. On June 1, 1959, the first constitution of the Republic was adopted.
On November 7, 1987, Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali acceded to the presidency of the Republic, who lead Tunisia for 23 years. On 17 December 2010, Mohammad Bouzizi, a street vendor from Sidi Bouzid a town on margins of Tunisia set himself on fire as an act of despair. This tragic incident spawned vast protest movements all over the country and took a shape of national revolt, involving all the components of society, jobless, graduates, lawyers, women, trade union….It was a quest for dignity, freedom, and need for employment. Four weeks of confrontation were enough to push former President to admit publicly his mistakes and to flee suddenly from the country on Friday January 14, 2010.
The Tunisian people belong to the Arab-Muslim world. The overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim. Small Christian and Jewish communities practice their faith freely and contribute to Tunisia’s rich cultural diversity.
Tunisia’s population amounts to 10,216,000 inhabitants. 65% of the population lives in urban areas. Tunis, the capital, with a population of about 1 million, is one of the principal cosmopolitan urban centers of the Mediterranean. Other cities in Tunisia include Carthage, Jerba, Hammamet, Bizerte, Sousse, Sfax and Kairouan.
The official language is Arabic while French is widely used. English is spoken by a growing number of Tunisians.
One-fifth of the population makes its livelihood by farming. The rest of the well-educated and skilled population is employed in industries, tourism, fishing, mining and manufacturing. Various indicators show a substantial improvement of the living standards of all Tunisians. Life expectancy has increased to 74.2 years in 2007. On October 23, 2011 a legal and transparent election of constituent assembly was organized. Currently Tunisia is witnessing a rich experience of coalition of three political parties, Ennahdha a moderate Islamist with leftist wings the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties (Ettakatol’s) formalized a power-sharing agreement to rule the country until the new constitution will be finalized.
About 80% of Tunisian families own their own homes. Numerous programs have been established to help vulnerable categories, particularly in the less privileged areas, which has helped bring down the poverty rate. Tunisian Government is assuming an active role in social, cultural, scientific, humanitarian and sports fields.
Seven international airports and eight passenger ports connect Tunisia to the outside world. The capital city, Tunis, is a two-hour flight from Paris and London, and a 50-minute flight from Rome. Daily flights connect Tunisia to virtually all European, African, Middle Eastern and ArabGulf destinations. Visitors sunbathe, dive, sail, and fish along the vast stretches of glistening, white sandy Mediterranean beaches covering an 800-mile (1300 km) coast. Beach resorts include Tabarka, Hammamet, Sousse and Jerba. The perched village of Sidi Bou Said offers unique scenery of domes, arched doors and balconies in blue and white set against a sparkling sea.
Punic and Roman archaeological sites can be visited in Carthage and other historical areas around the country. They include a second century Roman temple in Dougga, the Phoenician port of Utica, Sbeitla’s Roman temples and arches, Bulla Regia’s Roman villas and El Jem’s Coliseum, which is second only to Rome’s. Masterpieces of Arab-Islamic architecture attract the attention of visitors. Among them are the Great Mosque of Kairouan, and the Great Mosque of Zitouna at the center of the old city (the Medina) of Tunis. The vast Tunisian south with its lush oases and sweeping Saharan landscapes is increasingly becoming a favored shooting location for international film productions. Recently shot films include Star Wars and The English Patient.
Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Due to its limited natural resources, Tunisia has focused on strengthening its human potential. The bulk of the national budget has been allocated to education, health care, housing and social services. The private sector is encouraged to play a leading role in economic growth and, as a result, Tunisians have created a modern, diversified market-oriented economy based on an efficient agricultural sector, a growing manufacturing sector, and a thriving tourism industry.
Tunisia’s GNP and social indicators are constantly on the rise. The per capita GNP has known a remarkable increase, going up from 960 Dinars in 1987 to 5,000 dinars in 2008. Last decade, Tunisia has recorded an average growth rate of 5%. Furthermore, despite the intensification of the world debt problem, Tunisia has managed to reduce its total debt burden. Tunisia’s main exports are crude oil, phosphate, minerals, manufactured goods, and agricultural products, including its internationally renowned olive oil. Tourism, in its turn, generates considerable resources. Tunisia’s primary trading partners are France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Maghreb countries. Tunisia’s thriving economy creates an attractive atmosphere for investors from the European Community, Japan and the United States. About 3.102 foreign firms have direct investments in, or joint ventures with, Tunisian companies Currently ranked among emerging countries, Tunisia has adopted a development model based on modernity, women’s contribution and education as a priority sector for investment. This has made it possible to develop a diversified economy where top high-tech sectors like computer are among the most advanced in the African continent.
Bilateral relations between Tunisia and Pakistan
Tunisian Pakistani Relations are excellent, they are deep rooted in the heart of two brotherly peoples, and Pakistan gave huge support to Tunisia during its struggle for independence. The relations are characterized by exchange of high level visits and coordination in the international organizations especially in the organization of Islamic conference (OIC) and United Nations (UN). The President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf paid visit to Tunisia in July 2003. The 7th session of the joint ministerial commission was held in Tunis the 4th to 6th of may 2010 and was crowned by the signing of four agreements and memorandum of understanding: Diplomatic relations were established with Pakistan in 1957. First Pakistani embassy was opened in Tunis in 1958 and the first Tunisian embassy opened in Islamabad in 1980.
Main exports: fertilizers (DAP), clothes, electrical devices and engines
Main imports: cotton, synthetic fibers, leather