About Tunisia

The Republic of Tunisia, in North Africa, is bordered by Algeria, Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea. Geographically diverse, Tunisia is home to part of the Atlas Mountain range as well as the Sahara Desert. The city of Cape Angela is located on the coast and is the northernmost point on the African continent, while Tunis is its largest city and also the capital. The population of 11.8 million people is predominantly ethnically Arab and identifies as Sunni Muslim. Arabic is the official language, while French and Berber are also spoken widely throughout the country. As much as 70 percent of the population lives in urban areas, specifically in the northern half of the country. The southern half remains sparsely populated.

Tunisia was a French colony from 1881 until it declared independence in 1957. In 2011, the Tunisian Revolution took place in reaction to the lack of freedom and democracy under the prolonged rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali—an event that ignited the Arab Spring across the region. Despite this political turmoil, Tunisia is one of the few countries in Africa ranking high on the human development index, and has one of the highest GDPs per capita on the African continent. Education is free and mandatory for school-aged children.

Tunisia’s national health system provides nearly the entire population with access to quality medical care. Hospitals and clinics contribute to rising health indicators, such as one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Africa. Life expectancy has increased substantially as well and is projected to continue rising. While most people in Tunisia enjoy relatively good health, non-communicable diseases cause the majority of deaths in the country. Leading causes of death include ischemic heart disease, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, road injuries, lower respiratory infections, COPD, diabetes, and neonatal disorders. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high blood pressure, high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose, tobacco use, dietary risks, high LDL, air pollution, kidney dysfunction, malnutrition, non-optimal temperature, and occupational risks.

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