Tunisia History Timeline

According to Ezinereligion, Tunisia is a country in North Africa bordering the Mediterranean, Algeria and Libya. The southern parts of the country are located in the Sahara, but to the north are fertile river valleys and coastal plains. The area has winter rain, irrigation is necessary. The population is mixed, comprising local Berbers and immigrants especially from the Middle East.

Roughly speaking, Tunisia can be divided into three geographical zones: to the north the Atlas Mountains, which stretch from the Algerian border to the Mediterranean coast. In this area lies the mountainous plateau Dorsale, which extends to the northeast, as well as the Kroumirie Mountains, which run side by side with the northern coastal plain along the Mediterranean. These systems of mountain ranges contain fertile valleys and river depressions, where it is possible to cultivate with the help of irrigation.

Just south of the mountains is a dry steppe plateau pierced by salt lakes. Even further south, the steppes turn into the deserts of the Sahara.

The industry is growing, and the big cities are growing strongly with e.g. social problems as a result. The industry includes food processing and refining of mineral resources; in addition, a broad oil sector exists. There is great tourism, including to the sunny seaside resorts of Sousse and the city of Kairouan, one of the holy cities of Islam. The tourism industry employs well over 200,000 people. Between 1991 and 1995, Tunisia’s economic growth averaged 4.2%. Inflation is moderate.

The human rights situation remains difficult and freedom of expression is significantly limited. News media as well as the Internet are under state control, which has led to heightened criticism from the EU. Tunisia experienced terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2007, but in general the country is characterized by security stability, a relatively high standard of living and good educational opportunities. Since independence in 1956, Tunisia has emphasized the strengthening of women’s rights, polygamy is banned and the country’s family law is unique in the Arab-Islamic world.


800s FVT. The area was colonized by the Phoenicians, who founded Carthage, among other places. In a short time, the country developed into a significant power factor with possessions on, among other places, the Iberian Peninsula.

146 FVT. After the Third Punic War, the area was conquered by the Romans.

600s – The Arabs came to the country and with them the introduction of Islam and a new state government.

1534 – August. The development of European shipping in the Mediterranean drew Turkish pirates to the region, and the most infamous of these, Khayr ad-Din (also known as Redbeard) set up his operating base in Tunis. The Algerian-Tunisian coast thus came under the control of Ottoman sultans. But the interior of the country remained in the hands of the Berber tribes. It was necessary to reconcile with these, and the Turks therefore allowed the appointed governor (bey) to have extensive autonomy, and a succession of monarchies developed.

1575 – The country becomes part of the Ottoman Empire.

1871 – Tunisia is a French protectorate of independence in 1956.

1881 – Tunis is occupied by France, and lasts until 1956.

1925 – A campaign for a new constitution is launched in Tunis (Destur 1), which aims to give the country autonomy.

1952 – After the Second World War, the independence party Neo Destour gained in importance, and it led to anti-colonial uprisings, which in 1952-55 culminated in armed struggle.

1956 – Habib Bourguiba becomes the country’s first president. Under his leadership (1956-1987), major changes took place in Tunisia. Schools and compulsory education were built for 6th grade for both girls and boys, and women were given the right to vote. Students were helped to study abroad in exchange for returning to Tunisia after graduation. He tried to make Tunisia a modern state, following the Western model. However, he also made the country a one-party state, appointing himself president for life.

1964 – Neo Destour is transformed into the Socialist Party Destour (PSD), which until 1981 was the country’s only legal party.

1972 – A new investment law makes almost the entire country a free zone for export companies. At the same time, Habib Bourguiba – the “Supreme Fighter” – was appointed president for life.

1976 – MOVIE – Star Wars by George Lucas in the mid-1970s was partly filmed at the cave town of Matmata on the edge of the Sahara.

1982-1993 – The Arab League ( PLO ) was headquartered in Tunisia during this period.

1985 – The PLO headquarters in Tunis are bombed by the Israeli Air Force. It was hoped to hit Yasser Arafat.

1986 – During Bourguiba’s presidency, Tunisia develops into the most Western-oriented of the Arab world. But from 1986, the Islamic response posed a number of fundamental questions to civil society: the importance of religion in the life of the individual and society, as well as the Islamic consciousness of the country. Furthermore, it questioned the liberation of women and the influence of European tourism.

1987 – Habib Bourguiba is ousted due to old age and was overthrown by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. After this, a “national reconciliation process” was initiated, which i.a. meant that hundreds of political prisoners were released and a number of closed dailies were allowed to reopen.

1990 – In June, Amnesty International publishes a report on Tunisia, which reports on the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in solitary confinement. Amnesty International also requested that two death sentences be overturned – without success.

2000 – The death of Habib Bourguiba in April brings together political leaders from Europe and the Arab world. Presidents Jacques Chirac of France, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and Yasser Arafat of Palestine attended the funeral, which took place in the former president’s hometown, Monastir.

2002 – In April, the old Jewish synagogue Ghriba on the island of Djerba became the target of a bomb attack. It was visited this month by Jews from all over the world on pilgrimage. The attack killed many people – including German tourists. The government first claimed that there was an accident, but later admitted that it was an assassination attempt. Authorities blamed a Tunisian living in French New Lyon. Iflg. authorities, he had enlisted the help of a family member in Tunisia.

2003 – US Secretary of State Colin Powell visits Tunisia in December to discuss the crisis in the Middle East and to deliver an invitation from President Bush to visit the United States in February 2004.

2004 – In February, Ben AlĂ­ paid an official visit to the United States and held several meetings during which topics of bilateral interest were discussed and the situation in the Middle East discussed.

2007 – An NGO in Tunis that monitors freedom of expression in the country wrote in its April report that freedom of expression is being drastically curtailed in the country. This is done through attacks on journalists and dissidents, threats to the independent judiciary, book censorship and the use of electronic filters against websites criticizing the government.

2009 – President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali has been in power since 1987. In 2004, the president was elected for a four-year term with almost 100% of the vote. He is expected to run for a new term for 2009-14 in the upcoming presidential election in October 2009.

Tunisia History Timeline

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