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Tunisia Geography and Population

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 sand desert.

Tunisia Geography

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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.

Tunisia Population

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.

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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 Gabs (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.

 
 
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