Tunisia - geography
Tunisia stretches from the Mediterranean to the Sahara and contains very
different landscape types. In northern Tunisia, the two mountain ranges dominate
Northern Tell (Jabal al-Shanabi, 1544 m) and High Tell; they are separated by
the wide, fertile river valley of the river Medjerda. Northern Tell runs from
Algeria to Bizerte and the Gulf of Tunis, where Medjerda also empties. High Tell
extends NE to the Cap Bon Peninsula. The mountain areas are generally green and
lush and covered with cork oak and coniferous forest, while the Medjerda
Valley is one of the most important agricultural areas in Tunisia, known to the
Romans as the granary of Rome. Central Tunisia consists to the west of a
semi-arid steppe plateau approximately 500 masl and to the east of the low-lying,
slightly lush Sahel plateau with salt lakes and olive groves. In southern
Tunisia are large salt lakes, which, however, are dry most of the year. The
sparse population here lives in oases with date cultivation. SE of the salt
lakes, the Matmata Mountains and the Ksour Mountains flow into Libya, and
finally, furthest south, the landscape turns into the Sahara with the actual
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To the north, the country has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid
winters and hot, dry summers; on the steppes the conditions become drier, and to
the far south one finds the actual desert climate. Precipitation is greatest in
the northern mountain regions (about 1500 mm per year) and decreases in the
south; in the desert it can go all year without rain.
Tunisia's indigenous Berber population has received migrants from many places
throughout the ages. First there were Phoenicians and Romans, Jews and people
from the countries south of the Sahara, later came first and foremost the Arabs,
but also Muslims from Italy and later Spain. With the Ottoman Empire came the
Turks and with the colonial era French, Italians and Maltese. Today, the
majority of the population can be described as Arabized Berbers; only quite a
few places to the south and on the island of Djerba are still spoken Berber, but
other influences are seen on facial features and family names. The vast
majority of Tunisians are Muslims, but there are still small Christian (1%) and
Jewish (1%) communities; in the capital and several provincial towns there are
churches and synagogues. More than 60% of the population lives in cities, most
on the coast and over 20% in the metropolitan area. There is a large exodus from
rural areas, not least due to unemployment. In central and southern Tunisia,
there is still a small minority with a semi-nomadic way of life.
Population growth is declining (estimated at 0.99% in 2006) and the birth
rate is among the lowest in Africa and the Middle East (estimated at 15.5 ‰ in
2006). There is relatively free access to both contraception and abortion, and
in 2003, on average. two children per woman. The gnsntl. life expectancy is 71
years for men and 75 years for women, one of the highest in Africa. Hundreds of
thousands of Tunisians live and work in Europe and the Middle East.
Do you know how many people there are in Tunisia? Check this site to see
population pyramid and resident density about this country.
Tunisia has a fairly diversified economy with both private and government
sectors. Main exports are oil and phosphate; Other important contributions to
foreign exchange earnings come from the well-developed tourism industry and
transfers from migrant workers abroad. In addition, an industrial sector is
developing as well as an agriculture with varying yields. Finally, Tunisia is
receiving some financial assistance from France, the United States, Saudi Arabia
and the World Bank in particular. Regionally, the country's strong economic
zones are located in the northern regions and along the coast. The south and
interior of the country have bigger problems and fewer natural benefits and
therefore also live with high unemployment and emigration. In 2005, general
unemployment was estimated at 13.5% of the working population.
Tunisia has fewer natural resources than its oil-rich neighbors, but the
country has some of Africa's most important phosphate deposits, and since oil
was first discovered in 1964 (the El-Borma field) and later natural gas, the
sector has developed to dominate the country's exports. The oil reserves are
smaller than Denmark's, and oil production has decreased since 1999. In
addition, iron, tin, zinc and mercury to a lesser extent as well as cork and oak
from the forests in the northern mountains, halfa (esparto grass) from the
central plains for paper production and not least beaches, sun and sea as a
basis for tourism.
Tunisian agriculture employs just over a fifth of the workforce, and Tunisia
is not self-sufficient in agricultural products. The problems of agriculture are
partly uneven and sparse precipitation, partly often outdated property
conditions and cultivation methods. In the southern oases the main crop is
dates, in central Tunisia it is olives, and on the Cap Bon peninsula citrus
fruits. In addition, grain, other fruits and vegetables are grown, as well as
livestock of especially sheep and goats and to a lesser extent cattle. The main
export products from agriculture are olive oil, dates and citrus fruits. Fishing
with associated industry is found especially around Sfax, but also in a number
of other port cities.
The Tunisian industry is partly concentrated on the processing of available
raw materials such as oil and phosphate, and partly on the production of food; a
growing sector is also the textile industry, which accounts for approximately half of
the employment in the area. The industry is found especially in the metropolitan
area, but also in Gabès (phosphate), Bizerte (iron)
and Sousse and Monastir (textile).
Tourism has been constantly evolving since the 1960's, when the state chose to
make it an economic priority. The number of tourists, especially from Europe,
Libya and Algeria, has been steadily increasing, and together with tourism,
handicrafts and the rest of the service sector have also developed.
The infrastructure is well developed and generally of good quality. Passenger
transport is covered primarily by buses, while some aging rail which is carrying
cargo, including phosphate rock. From Tunis, there are ferry services to
several European destinations. The main port cities are Tunis-La Goulette, Sfax,
Bizerte and Sousse.