The History of Tunisia

Tunisia was called Ifrīqiyyah in the early centuries of the Islamic period. That name, in turn, comes from the Roman word for Africa and the name also given by the Romans to their first African colony following the Punic Wars against the Carthaginians in 264–146 BC. Following the decline of Rome, the region was ruled briefly by the Vandals and then the Byzantine Empire before being conquered by the Arabs in 647 ce. Although the Arabs initially unified North Africa, by 1230 a separate Tunisian dynasty had been established by the Ḥafṣids. Muslim Andalusians migrated to the area after having been forced out of Spain during the Reconquista, particularly following the defeat of the Muslim kingdom of Granada in 1492. By 1574, Tunisia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, whose control of the region, always tenuous, had all but dissolved by the 19th century.

A small state with limited natural resources, Tunisia nonetheless managed to retain considerable autonomy within the framework of the larger empires that frequently ruled it from afar. This status was achieved, for example, under the ʿAbbāsids in the 9th century and later under the Ottomans. Tunisia’s geographic and historical legacy helped prepare it for the shocks it received in the 19th century as a land caught between an expanding Europe and a declining Ottoman Empire.

Tunisia became a protectorate of France in 1881; the Bey remained an absolute monarch while supreme authority was passed to the French resident general.

In April 1955, Tunisia got its internal autonomy with foreign affairs and defence remaining in French hands and then it got its independence on March 20, 1956.

In July 1957 the constitutional role of the Bey was abolished and Habib Bourguiba became the head of state and the First President of the Republic of Tunisia.

In November 1987 his prime minister, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali took power and became the second President of the Republic of Tunisia.

Ben Ali stepped down as president and left the country on January 14, 2011.

Tunisians voted on October 23, 2011, to determine the composition of the 217-member National Constituent Assembly, a new body with a mandate to appoint an interim cabinet and draft a new constitution with voter turnout at nearly 70 percent. The election, the first since the ouster of Ben Ali, was described by international observers as the first free, fair and pluralistic elections in the modern history of Tunisia. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time in late November 2012 and. The assembly also elected Moncef Marzouki, a human rights activist and former opponent of the Ben Ali regime, as President of the Republic of Tunisia.

Tunisia has written a new constitution that could be a breakthrough for Arab democracy as it was the result of consensus, and this is new in the Arab world. While Tunisia’s new constitution names Islam as the country’s religion, it guarantees freedom of worship and a secular rule of law. The constitution also bans torture, and guarantees women parity in political bodies.

Power has been handed over to a caretaker government led by Mehdi Jomaa, a former minister of industry. Legislative and Presidential elections are expected to be held in the late 2014.

Tunisians are looking to 2014 as the year that would lay the foundation for the Second Republic that could tackle the problems of poverty, unemployment, regional disparities and respond to the aspirations of the Tunisian people towards democracy, freedom and decent life.


El Jem, Tunisia

The ancient amphitheatre of El Jem, the single most impressive ...

Carthage, Tunisia

The legend of Carthage has been faithfully nurtured in the ...

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

A stone’s throw from the bustling city of Tunis, Sidi ...

Tunis, Tunisia

The roots of Tunis are said to date back as ...

Tunisia wins four gold medals at Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

  The variety "Olivko" won the gold medal "Best Of Class," ...

The 9th session of the Tunisian-Pakistani Joint Commission.

H.E Mr Khemaies Jhinaoui, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ...

Visit of H.E Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif to Tunisia

H.E Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of ...

A delegation from the Gujrat Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited the CEPEX in Tunisia

A delegation of businessmen from the Gujrat Chamber of Commerce ...