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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, a "national unity government" was formed. Elections for the new Constituent Assembly were held in late October 2011, and in December it elected human rights activist Moncef MARZOUKI as interim president. The Assembly began drafting a new constitution in February 2012, and is aiming to have it ratified by the end of the year.


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Geography

Location
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya

Geographic coordinates
34 00 N, 9 00 E

Map references
Africa

Area World Ranking: 93
Total 163,610 sq km
Land 155,360 sq km
Water 8,250 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly larger than Georgia

Land boundaries
Total 1,424 km
Border countries Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km

Coastline
1,148 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Contiguous zone 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone 12 nm

Climate
Temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south

Terrain
Mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
Highest point Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m

Natural resources
Petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt

Land use
Arable land 17.05%
Permanent crops 13.08%
Other 69.87% (2005)

Irrigated land
4,450 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
4.6 cu km (2003)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
Per capita 261 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
NA

Environment - current issues
Toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural freshwater resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note
Strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration


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  Tunisia (Tunis):


  GPS points from Tunisia (Tunis)

Wadi At Tebea Tunisia (general)

Oued Er Rechada Gouvernorat De Gabes

Chebka El Hamra Tunisia (general)

Marsa Ksiba Gouvernorat De Medenine

Djebel Jimla Tunisia (general)

Hennchir En Nechmaya Al Qayrawan

Djebel Kherba Gouvernorat De Nabeul

Beni Mohammed Tunisia (general)




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