Tunisia State of North Africa, facing N and E on the Mediterranean, bordering on the SE with Libya and on the W with Algeria. It is the easternmost and the smallest of the three states indicated, sometimes adding Libya and Mauritania, as countries of Maghrib (➔ al-Maghrib).
1. Morphology. The Tunisia is the least high and rugged the Maghreb countries. Its territory extends for about 2/3 below 400 m asl, and only its northern part is affected by the extreme eastern offshoots, gradually sloping down, of the Atlas system. These are two mountainous alignments separated by the wide valley furrow crossed by the Medjerda river: to the North the northern Tell is compact and includes the Crumiria mountains ; the southern one, often referred to as the Tunisian ridge, is divided into isolated massifs and reaches the highest altitudes of the whole country (1544 m). AE and S the reliefs of the Atlas lower, forming the hilly region called Sahel towards the sea and crossing to the South in a large depression occupied by brackish lake basins (chott); subsequently the heights slope down into the boundless flat spaces of the Saharan plateau. The northern coast is compact and important in the stretch between the border with Algeria and Capo Bianco; further to the East, as far as Cape Bon, where the deep inlet of the Gulf of Tunis opens up, it is bordered by short alluvial plains, with lagoons and coastal lakes. The east coast extends from N to S and is low, hollowed out by large gulfs, bordered by particularly vast plains, and fronted by several islands, the largest of which are Djerba and the islands of the Kerkenna archipelago.
2. Climate. The climate of the northern and central Tunisia is subtropical of the Mediterranean type: the summer is hot and dry, the winter is mild except in the higher areas of the Atlas; rainfall, mainly autumn-winter, is not abundant, with strong differences from one year to the next. In the south, the climate takes on tropical characteristics, with higher temperatures, especially in winter, and scarce and irregular rainfall, until it becomes, in the southern extremity, a real desert climate, with practically no rainfall.
3. Hydrography. A true hydrographic network exists only in the northern Tunisia, where the rains ensure a protracted outflow throughout the year, albeit with long lean periods during which the flow rates drop to minimum values. The only notable river is the Medjerda, which originates in Algeria but whose course develops for about 3/4 in Tunisia. Among the non-draining water bodies, the coastal lakes of the northern coast should be mentioned, and above all the brackish ponds, of which the largest is the Gerid, numerous, and partly connected to each other, in the depression between the northern and the arid southern Tunisia here they become the characterizing element of the landscape.
4. Flora and fauna. The vegetation is not abundant and towards the interior it fades into the steppe and desert. In northern Tell, cork and oak woods are very common. Holm oak prevails in the Tunisian ridge, Aleppo pine and oak and in the driest areas Barbary thuja and juniper. On the coast, dwarf palm and mastic are common. In regions with limited rainfall, alpha (poacea whose fibers are used for the manufacture of ropes) is frequent and drinn, a poacea that serves as a pasture for camels, is frequent in arid and sandy places. ● Although in the littoral regions the Tunisian fauna does not substantially depart from the general physiognomy of the southern coasts of the western Mediterranean, it presents in more internal regions, especially in several groups of Invertebrates, together with the individual character of the entire Maghrib, some old elements of oriental origin. The fauna of the Vertebrates is clearly of the North African type; they also reach the Tunisia, although few in number. For Tunisia 2009, please check hyperrestaurant.com.
The population of Tunisia amounted, in 2009, to 10,486,339 residents, with an average annual growth rate, between 1997 and 2009, of 11%, compared to 16% in the previous decade. This trend is determined by a relatively high birth rate (15.4 ‰) and a death rate of 5.2 ‰ (2009). The infant mortality rate, which was 22.5% in 2009, has steadily decreased compared to previous years. Life expectancy at birth is 75.7 years (73.9 for men and 77.7 for women). The illiteracy rate is still quite high (22.9% in 2004). The Human Development Index (HDI), measured by the UN through income, health and education indicators, places Tunisia in 95th place in the world ranking (2008). It ranks even less well by another UN index, that relating to the condition of women (GDI), in which Tunisia is in 122nd place. Nonetheless, the Tunisia, among the Arab countries, is the one that has invested most resources in promoting the social status of women, since the 1950s. Among other things, it was the first Arab country that outlawed polygamy. ● The urban population is equal to 67% of the total (2008). The most important urban centers from the point of view of the resident population, apart from Tunis (984,000 residents), Are Sfax (545,000 residents), Nabeul (458,000 residents), Ben Arous (457,000 residents), Monastir (455,000 residents) and Sousse (432,000 residents). The unemployment rate was 14% in 2008, substantially stable compared to the immediately preceding years.