April 5, 2010

Tunisia means to lie down

Population 10,432,500
The name Tunis can be attributed to different origins. It can be associated with the Phoenician goddess Tanith (aka Tunit), ancient city of Tynes or to the Berber root ens which means "to lie down".

Tunisia is the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 km of coastline.

Tunisia has close relations with both the European Union — with whom it has an association agreement — and the Arab world. Tunisia is also a member of the Arab League and the African union.

Every year numerous Tunisians attempt illegal immigration to European countries like Italy by sea. Many die trying when the small boats in which they are riding capsize or go adrift at sea. Others reach their destination but are forcibly repatriate.

Tunisia is an authoritarian regime and police state in the guise of a procedural democracy. Independent human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Freedom House, have documented that basic human and political rights are not respected.

Censorship in Tunisia is severe. In practice no public criticism of the regime is tolerated and all direct protest is severely suppressed and does not get reported in the media as was the case with the public demonstrations against nepotism and corruption in 'Redayef' near the city of Gafsa, in the country's south, in 2008.

Tunisia has a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture, mining, manufacturing, petroleum products and tourism. In 2008 it had a GDP of $41 billion (official exchange rates), or $82 billion (purchasing power parity).

The Desertec project is a large-scale energy project aimed at installing solarpower panels in, and a grid connecting North Africa and Europe. Tunisia will be a part of this project, but exactly how it may benefit from it remains to be seen.

Tunic Arabic is the local vernacular of Arabic and is considered Tunisia's official language. As is the case in the rest of the Arab world, a local variety of Arabic is used by the public. Tunisian Arabic is closely related to the Maltese language. There is also a small minority of speakers of Shelha, a Berber language.

Tunisia is the 79th country visiting this blog.

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