Home of the ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia has long been an important player in the Mediterranean, placed as it is in the centre of North Africa, close to vital shipping routes. In their time, the Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and French realised its strategic significance, making it a hub for control over the region.
Tunisia Tourist Attractions
French colonial rule ended in 1956, and Tunisia was led for three decades by Habib Bourguiba, who advanced secular ideas. These included emancipation for women - women's rights in Tunisia are among the Tunisia Tourism most advanced in the Arab world - the abolition of polygamy and compulsory free education.
Mr Bourguiba insisted on an anti-Islamic fundamentalist line, while increasing his own powers to become a virtual dictator. In 1987 he was dismissed on grounds of senility and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali became president.
The mausoleum of Habib ibn Ali Bourguiba houses the remains of the founder of independent Tunisia and its longtime president. Beyond his nation's borders Bourguiba was an important leader in the Arab world.
While children generally acquire Tunisian Arabic at home, when they enter school at age 5, they are taught in Classical Arabic. From the age of 8, they are taught French while English is introduced at the age of 10.
He continued with a hard line against Islamic extremists, but inherited an economically-stable country. Although Tunisia has introduced some press freedoms and has freed a number of political prisoners, human rights groups say the Tunisia Attractions authorities tolerate no dissent, harrassing government critics and rights activists.Mount Fuji
Mr Ben Ali faced reproach at home and abroad for his party's three "99.9%" election wins. The opposition condemned changes to the constitution which allowed him to run for re-election in 2004, and in 2009.
Tunisia is more prosperous than its neighbours and has strong trade links with Europe. Agriculture employs a large part of the workforce, and dates and olives are cultivated in the drier regions. Millions of European tourists flock to Tunisian resorts every year.
Political violence is rare, but militant Islamists have become an issue of concern for the authorities. A bomb attack on the resort of Djerba in 2002 killed 19 people and led to a dramatic drop in tourist numbers.
A dozen suspected Islamists were killed in shoot-outs with security forces in and around Tunis at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. And lawyers say hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of links with terrorist groups since 2003, when the authorities gained new powers of arrest.
Tunisia Information and History
Gaining its independence in 1956 after 75 years under French control, this North African nation was ruled by President for Life Habib Bourguiba until his ouster in 1987. Political and economic reforms have since pulled Tunisia from the brink of collapse. The Tunisia Travel fluctuating economy is based on agriculture—particularly market gardening of vegetables—as well as phosphates and petroleum. Tunisia's sunny Mediterranean coast and ancient history, spectacularly preserved at Carthage, make for a robust tourist industry.
Industry: petroleum, mining, tourism, textiles, footwear.
Agriculture: olives, olive oil, grain, dairy products.
Exports: textiles, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, agricultural products.
Full name: Tunisian Republic
Population: 10.3 million (UN, 2007)
Area: 164,150 sq km (63,378 sq miles)
Major languages: Arabic (official); French
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Tunisian dinar (TD) = 1,000 millimes
Main exports: Agricultural products, textiles, oil
GNI per capita: US $2,890 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .tn
International dialling code: +216