Country Profile

Tunisia Country Profile

The land now known as Tunisia has a rich and distinguished history. It has been ruled over by Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans and Arab dynasties. Modern Tunisia, and the country’s name itself, came into being when the region was a French protectorate in the late nineteenth century. Tunisia gained full independence in 1956. Two presidents, Habib Bourgiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, dominated much of the post-independence republican period. However, following protests, which began in December 2010, Ben Ali fled into exile in January 2011, marking a new era for Tunisian politics. Following this period of protest, which helped ignite the Arab Spring, the country has held two sets of successful elections. The parliament also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new constitution in 2014. Emerging relatively strongly from the Arab Spring, Tunisia is respected diplomatically and remains a key player in a volatile neighbourhood. With more than 1000 km of Mediterranean coastline, the country has a strong tradition of commerce and openness to the wider region. This chapter contains a viewpoint from President Béji Caïd Essebsi; and interviews with Habib Essid, Head of Government; Tobias Ellwood, MP and Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Suma Chakrabarti, President, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)