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Background: Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881 and the creation of a protectorate. Agitation for independence in the decades following World War I was finally successful in getting the French to recognize Tunisia as an independent state in 1956. The country's first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. Street protests that began in Tunis in December 2010 over high unemployment, corruption, widespread poverty, and high food prices escalated in January 2011, culminating in rioting that led to hundreds of deaths. On 14 January 2011, the same day BEN ALI dismissed the government, he fled the country, and by late January 2011, Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI announced the formation of a "national unity government" with the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Fouad M'BAZAA, as the interim president.
Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Area land: 155,360 sq km
Area water: 8,250 sq km
Coastline: 1,148 km
Country name conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
Country name conventional short form: Tunisia
Country name former: Tunisian Republic
Population: 10,629,186 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,274,348/female 1,193,131); 15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,638,014/female 3,728,294); 65 years and over: 7.5% (male 390,055/female 405,344) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.978% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 17.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 5.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female; total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.92 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 29.6 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 21.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.01 years; male: 73 years; female: 77.17 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.03 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,400 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Tunisian(s); adjective: Tunisian;
Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%;
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%;
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 74.3%; male: 83.4%; female: 65.3% (2004 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $100.3 billion (2010 est.); $97.03 billion (2009 est.); $94.22 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $43.86 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 3.4% (2010 est.); 3% (2009 est.); 4.6% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $9,500 (2010 est.); $9,300 (2009 est.); $9,100 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 10.6%; industry: 34.6%; services: 54.8% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 3.8% (2005 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.3%; highest 10%: 31.5% (2000);
Labor force: 3.83 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 18.3%; industry: 31.9%; services: 49.8% (2009 est.);
Unemployment rate: 14% (2010 est.); 13.3% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $9.806 billion; expenditures: $11.76 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages;
Industrial production growth rate: 1.6% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 11.08 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 11.8 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - exports: 130 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 145 million kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
(Arabic-French weekly/ independent), Tunis
Displaying 1 to 4 of 5 items.
The Great Mosque, in all its majestic grandeur, is less enticing if you're an American woman who somehow finds herself inside it.
Tunisian's election of its Constituent Assembly represents the first step in the Arab Spring's transitioning from revolution to democratization.
As the Obama administration puts together a financial aid package for countries emerging from the Arab Spring, it must be careful to fund democracy not religious fundamentalism.
Tunisians proved that an oppressed Arab society can rise up against a dictatorship and demand democracy. With any luck, the statement will be heard, maybe even emulated, around the region.