After many years of dictatorship, Tunisia gained a people-elected government in 2011, and a new democratic constitution in 2014. Today, the country is considered to be the most democratic state in the Arab world.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Tunis
- Ethnic groups: Arabs 98%, Europeans 1%, Jews and others 1%
- Language: Arabic (official), French, Berber (tamazight)
- Religion: Muslims (official; Sunni) 99.1%, others (including Christians, Shi’ites, Bahai) 1%
- Population: 11,659,174 (2018)
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 163 610 km2
- Currency: dinar
- GNP per capita: 11 596 PPP $
Population of Tunisia
The population of Tunisia is estimated at 11 million (World Bank 2014) and annual population growth to 1.1% (2000-2009). Declining birth rates have contributed to a decline in the proportion of under 15s from 44% in 1975 to less than 24% in 2009. The average number of children per woman is 2.05. The median age is estimated to be 76.5 years for women and 72.5 years for men.
After many years of net emigration, this changed at the beginning of the 1980s; many former emigrants returned from Europe. In the 1990s there has again been net emigration. Just under 2 million Tunisians work abroad, most of them in Europe. Almost the entire population is Arabs; About 1.5% are Berbers, as well as Italian and French minorities.
The average population density is 67 residents per km2, but the settlement is largely concentrated to the northern coastal zone. The areas in the central and southern regions are sparsely populated. The settlements in these areas are especially semi-nomadic farmers and herdsmen. Because of unemployment and rural poverty, many smallholder farmers and rural workers have moved into the cities after 1960. In 2009, 66% of the population lived in cities, compared to 40% in 1976. The rapid urbanization has led to unemployment and social problems. Major cities are the capital of Tunis and Sfax.
Official language is standard Arabic. The vast majority of Tunisians have Tunisian-Arabic dialects as their mother tongue; these are considered the so-called maghreb dialects (see Arabic). About 1% of the population has a Berber language as their mother tongue. French is the dominant second language and is understood by a great many people.