Several great powers have ruled in the area that
is today Tunisia. After the fall of the city of Carthage
in the 100s before the Christian era, the area was
incorporated into the Roman Empire. A few hundred years
later, Östrom ruled for over a hundred years until the
Arabs arrived in the 600s. From the 13th century,
Tunisia was ruled as a state of its own during the
Berber seaside dynasty, but by the middle of the 16th
century it was again invaded by external powers, first
briefly by the Ottoman Empire, then by France.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Tunisia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Archaeological finds indicate that the area that
constitutes today's Tunisia was inhabited by hunters and
fishermen during the early Stone Age. In the 5000s
before Christ, the inhabitants of the area began to
increasingly engage in livestock farming and
agriculture. In the 3000s before Christ, the Berber
people immigrated, which at this time began to spread
across North Africa.
Some evidence suggests that Minoan sailors from Crete
may have had small storage stations on the coast a
little later, but the country's documented history only
dates back to 814 BC when Phoenicians built the city of
Carthage on the northern coast of Tunisia. The
Phoenicians dominated trade and shipping on the
Mediterranean until the so-called Punic Wars between
Carthage and Rome. The war ended with Carthage's
destruction in 146 BC. The city was rebuilt by the
Romans and became the main town in the thriving province
of Africa which included today's Tunisia and part of
A Germanic people, the Vandals, conquered the country
in the 400s after Christ but were driven away by
Austro-Byzantine forces in the 530s. Östrom's rule over
the area lasted until the Arab invasion, which,
beginning in the second half of the 600s, quickly
transformed the Latin province of Africa into the Arab
Ifriqiya and introduced Islam as a religion. The new
religion was also adopted by the Berber population in
the Tunisian hinterland, which had hitherto been
slightly affected by the coastal civilizations.
For most of its history as an Arab nation, Tunisia
has been ruled by indigenous dynasties, which at times
were subordinate to Arab empires ruled by the Caliphs.
From the 13th century until 1574, Tunisia was
independent during a Berber dynasty, the sea sides.
Important cultural influence was gained by the Spanish
Muslims who fled to Tunisia after being expelled from
their homeland in the late 14th century.
In 1574 Tunisia was conquered by the Ottomans, but
they met with resistance and as early as the 1600s
Tunisia was in practice an independent state again,
although it formally remained part of the Ottoman
Empire. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the country,
like its North African neighbors, received a bad
reputation for piracy that was sanctioned by the
country's governors. At the beginning of the 18th
century, an Ottoman officer with roots from Crete
founded the Husainid ruling family that came to rule
Tunisia under varying degrees of autonomy until 1957.
In 1861 Tunisia was the first country in the Muslim
world to receive a rudimentary constitution. However,
the country had severely mismanaged economy and went
into bankruptcy in practice in 1869. In 1881, Tunisia
was occupied by France, thus expanding its sphere of
interest east of Algeria. Two years later, Tunisia
formally became a French protectorate. Tunisia's
monarch, the bey, was allowed to retain his office but
both the bey and the government were subordinate to the
French state representative in Tunis.
France invested in expanding the country's
communications network and encouraged the move of French
citizens who were offered land in the protectorate.
Europeans, mainly French but also Italians, took over
much of the country's business.
New government and president are appointed
After Ennahda, CPR and Ettakatol agreed to share the country's most important
items, Hamadi Jebali of Ennahda becomes prime minister and former human rights
activist al-Moncef al-Marzouki of CPR president. Ettakatol's Mustapha Ben Jafar
is the President of the Constituent Assembly. The most important ministerial
posts are occupied by Ennahda.
Nightly curfew in Sidi Bouzid
Shortly after Election Day, unrest erupted around the city of Sidi Bouzid
south of Tunis. A populist party, the People's List, started by a businessman
residing in Britain is considered to have been discriminated against in the
election of its supporters. Thousands of protesters protest.
Ennahda wins the election to the Constituent Assembly with 37 percent of the
vote. The non-religious center-left parties Assembly for the Republic (CPR) and
Ettakatol are in second and fourth place, and the three parties for talks to
jointly be responsible for the country's government. However, Trean, the
People's List, is kept outside.
New convictions against Ben Ali
He is sentenced to several years in prison for unlawful possession of drugs,
weapons and antiques, as well as corruption and property fraud.
Trial against Ben Ali
The ex-president and his wife, who are still in Saudi Arabia, are sentenced
to 35 years in prison for financial crime and state abuses. The couple will also
pay $ 66 billion to the Tunisian state.
New election date
The government announces that the election will be postponed until October
Protests erupt when the Tunisians began to doubt that the transitional
government really intends to introduce democracy. According to authorities, the
unrest was fueled by people linked to the former regime under Ben Ali.
Prosecution of Ben Ali
Authorities announce that Ben Ali will be charged with 18 counts, including
for manslaughter, drug smuggling and state crimes. In total, 44 indictments will
be directed at the former president's family and former ministers.
Elections for the summer
In early March, Interim President Mebazaa announces that the elections
scheduled for July 24 will be for a special council to draft a new constitution.
The Council should also have the right to appoint a new government.
Ben Ali's power party RCD is formally dissolved by order of a court.
Over 200 dead
A UN investigation states that 211 people died in connection with the
After the protests have been stepped up against the government with several
new casualties, Ghannouchi bowes to the protesters' demands and resigns.
84-year-old Béji Caïd Essebsi, who was previously Foreign Minister under the
first President of Bourgiba, is appointed as new Prime Minister. Another five
ministers later resign after continued protests against the government being too
much characterized by the old regime. The government is making another
concession by re-allowing the Islamist party Ennahda, which has been banned for
almost two decades. Party leader Rached Ghannouchi has already returned in
January after many years in the country's escape.
Request for extradition of Ben Ali
The government requests that Saudi Arabia release Ben Ali. The government
also promises amnesty for political prisoners and financial support for 50,000
Tunisians flee to Italy
In the course of a few days in February, 5,000 Tunisians take over to Italy
in small boats. The Tunisian government promises to work with other countries to
curb the flow of refugees.
The country may be governed by decree
Interim President Fouad al-Mebazzaa is granted parliamentary permission to
rule by decree for the time being due to the uncertain situation.
The government is being reformed
Ghannouchi lets 12 ministers go, many of whom have been part of Ben Ali's
regime. Many protesters want Ghannouchi to resign himself.
Arrest warrant against Ben Ali
At the end of January, French prosecutors announce an investigation into Ben
Ali's assets in France. The ex-president is suspected of corruption, money
laundering and misappropriation of state funds. The Tunisian government issues
an international arrest warrant for Ben Ali, who is in Saudi Arabia. A few days
later, the EU's foreign ministers decide to freeze Ben Ali's assets pending the
Just a day later, three opposition ministers resign in protest that former
ministers from the old ruling party RCD may remain in the new government. The
announcement by Prime Minister Ghannouchi and President Mebazaa that they are
leaving the RCD is not enough to appease the opposition. Violent protests
continue in Tunis. The government continues to show its will to settle with Ben
Ali's repressive rule: political prisoners are released and some 30 members of
Ben Ali's family and relatives are arrested by the police.
Collective government is added
The Constitutional Court decides that Parliament's President, Fouad
al-Mebazzaa, will fill the President's empty chair until a new permanent
government is appointed. Then President Mebazaa gives Prime Minister Ghannouchi
the task of forming a unifying government.
An emergency permit is introduced
President Ben Ali flies on the same day that a state of emergency is
introduced throughout the country. He probably lost the support of the army.
Prime Minister Mohammed al-Ghannouchi proclaims himself interim president.
Promises from Ben Ali
When the turmoil has almost evolved into a national revolt demanding the
resignation of the regime, Ben Ali announces that he will not run for office in
the next presidential election in 2014..
The Minister of the Interior is dismissed
Following sharp criticism from the EU, the UN and the United States for the
police's tough handling of the situation, President Ben Ali dismisses his
Interior Minister and orders an investigation into how certain government
officials have acted in connection with the riots. He also decides that almost
all arrested protesters should be released. Nightly curfew is introduced in
Tunis and its environs.