Tunisia History

By | November 8, 2021

According to Naturegnosis, Tunisia, officially Arabic Al-Djumhurijja at-Tunisijja [-d ʒ ʊ m-], French République tunisienne, German Tunisian Republic, is a state in North Africa, in the Maghreb with (2018) 11.5 million residents; The capital is Tunis.

Tunisia before the Husainids

The land inhabited by Berber tribes has been around since about 1100 BC. Colonized by Phoenicians who later founded Carthage. After the destruction of Carthage by the Romans at the end of the 3rd Punic War (146 BC), Tunisia came under Roman rule (province of Africa with the capital Utica ).

In 429 AD, the Vandal invaded and made Tunisia the center of their empire. From 533 it was under Byzantine rule (exarchate of Carthage). Around 650–698 (final destruction of Carthage) the Arabs conquered Tunisia and founded the capital Kairouan. As part of the Caliphate Empire, Tunisia, as the province of Ifrikija, was subject to its own dynasties, the Aghlabids, the Fatimids and the Sirids. In the 10th century it gradually gained greater importance as a starting point for the conquest of Sicily and as a scientific center; among the Almohads and Hafsids Its political role also grew. With the help of its maritime power, Tunisia was able to repel the advance of Louis IX the Saint from France (7th Crusade) and temporarily occupy large parts of Algeria.

In the fight against the Spaniards, who had held suzerainty since 1535, and the Hafsids, the Turks finally conquered the country in 1574 and had it administered by Paschas (until 1590) and Deis (until 1640), followed by Beis from the Muradid family (up to 1702). The settlement of expelled from Spain Moors (after 1609) brought a significant economic and cultural development.

Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime

After President Bourguiba was declared incapable of office, he was ousted on November 7, 1987 by Prime Minister Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who took over the office of President (confirmed in office by elections in 1989, 1994, 1999). A party law passed in 1988 institutionalized the multi-party system, but was rejected by the opposition because of the priority it stipulated for the ruling party RCD (emerged from the PSD in 1988) and the restrictive provisions. In the 1980s, tensions between the secular forces and the Islamic fundamentalists increased sharply. In April 1990 the fundamentalist organization »En-Nadha« announced its program (»Islam is above all«).

The government tried to counter the rise of the Islamist groups by expanding social provision and promoting education. Contrary to the announcement by President Ben Ali that democratic reforms would be initiated in 1997, the persecution and obstruction of opposition forces intensified. A total of 19 people, including 14 German tourists, died in a terrorist attack on the island of Djerba on April 11, 2002. The Tunisian government officially opposed the military intervention in Iraq that began in 2003, but had anti-war demonstrations by trade unions and opposition groups violently suppressed. In the parliamentary elections on October 24, 2004, as expected, the ruling RCD won a majority; she received 152 of 189 mandates. In the presidential election held at the same time, Ben Ali was elected for another five years; a fourth term was only made possible in 2002 by a controversial constitutional amendment. Inflation and increased prices for staple foods led to repeated unrest in 2008. In the mining town of Redeyef there were protests against layoffs and poor working conditions from January 2008; two people died in clashes with the police on the occasion of a strike. He became the incumbent in the parliamentary and presidential elections on October 25, 2009 Ben Ali was elected president for the fifth time with 89.3% of the vote. His RCD party won 161 of the 214 seats in parliament. The main problems remained high unemployment and the inadequate political participation of the population.

World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)

  • Colosseum of El-Djem (K; 1979)
  • Carthage ruins (K; 1979)
  • Old town of Tunis (K; 1979)
  • Ichkeul National Park (N; 1980)
  • Ruins of the Punic city of Kerkuan and its necropolis (K; 1985)
  • Old town of Sousse (K; 1988)
  • Old Town of Kairouan (K; 1988)
  • Ruins of the ancient city of Thugga (K; 1997)


Sfax, Arabic Safakis, port and industrial city with seaside resort on the east coast of Tunisia, capital of the governorate of the same name, (2014) 272 800 residents.

University (founded 1986); Economic center of southern Tunisia; Phosphate export and processing (largest phosphate plant in Tunisia; Metlaoui phosphate railway ); chemical, textile (especially silk), food industry, oil and grain mills, metal processing, production of shoes, optical glasses, perfume, soap, handicrafts, fish processing, sea salt and sponge extraction; Tourism; Commercial, fishing and yachting port, ferry traffic to the Kerkenna Islands, shipping traffic with Djerba, Gabès, Malta; Railway and road junction; international airport (10 km west).


The rectangular medina is surrounded by the repeatedly renewed crenellated Aghlabid city walls (9th century) with many towers and two kasbas (12th and 17th centuries); in the south-east the main gate Bab Diwan, renovated in 1944 (an arch preserved from the gate built in 1306); in the center the nine-aisled Great Mosque (founded in 849; renovated by the Fatimids in the 10th / 11th centuries, expanded in 1748) with a three-story square minaret (built in the 10th / 11th century in the style of the minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan); in the former Dar Djellouli palace (17th century) the Museum of Applied Arts. In the neo-Moorish town hall with an archaeological museum (including finds from the Roman Thaenae, 12 km to the southwest, as well as from Punic and Byzantine times) in the new town, which was laid out like a chessboard by the French.


Sfax was re-founded by the Aghlabids in the 9th century over the ancient Libyan and Roman Taparura and in the 9th and 10th centuries it grew rapidly through the export of olive oil, fish and fine cloth (especially to Italy). In 1881 Sfax was taken by the French. In 1942–43, the New Town and the harbor in particular were almost completely destroyed by British air raids, and reconstruction lasted until the 1960s.

Tunisia History