Tunisia (Arabic: تونس Tūnis
, French: Tunisie
), officially known as the Republic of Tunisia (Arabic: الجمهورية التونسية al-Jumhūriyyah at-Tūnisiyyah
, French: République tunisienne
), is a small country at the very north of Africa, between Libya and Algeria. Originally a part of the Ottoman Empire, it became a French protectorate (read: colony) in 1881. It became independent in 1956, declaring itself the Tunisian Republic. It was governed by the authoritarian regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the Constitutional Democratic Rally
from 1987 to 2011, when things dramatically changed.
On 17 December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor, set himself alight
in front of a police station. Bouazizi had a history with the police; the police would confiscate his fruit cart, which he would set up again, which the police would confiscate again... you get the idea. Following his self-immolation, major protests against Ben Ali's regime erupted across Tunisia. On January 18, Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia. The CDR was subsequently dissolved and banned. Elections to a new Constituent Assembly were held on October 23, resulting in a coalition government comprised of the three largest parties: the "Renaissance Party" or Ennahda
(centre-right Islamists), the "Congress for the Republic" or CPR
(centre-left secularists), and the "Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties" or Ettakatol
(centre-left social-democrats). Currently, the country is going through a transitional phase from authoritarianism to democracy.
Of particular note is that the protests and later revolution in Tunisia inspired similar protests across the Arab world
, including a revolutions in Egypt
. There have also been major protests in other countries, including Syria and Yemen, both of which have seen brutal crackdowns on the protesters.
On a more historical note, Tunisia is of interest to scholars of ancient history for being the heart of the old Carthaginian Empire
—indeed, Carthage these days is a rather fashionable suburb (by which we mean district
) of Tunis; the presidential palace and international airport are located there.
It's also worth mentioning that Tunisia has been the site of quite a few movies where there is a desert scenery. Notable examples include the Tatooine scenes in the Star Wars
movies (named after the city of Tataouine in southern Tunisia), Cairo in Raiders of the Lost Ark
, and the entirety of The English Patient
and Monty Python's Life of Brian
Fiction set in Tunisia
The Tunisian flag
- Any works involving Carthage involve Tunisia by implication.
- The tenth story of the third day of the Decameron is set in the Tunisian town of Gafsa, known in Italy in the Middle Ages for being near a significant Christian monastery. Let's just say that the tenth story of the third day is so incredibly obscene, English translators of the Decameron refused to translate it for five hundred years.
The flag is derived from the red flag of the Ottoman Empire, distinguishable by the crescent and star, traditional symbols of Islam, colored red and placed inside a white circle.