Independence Day: March 20, 1956
Head of state: Saïed quays
Head of government: Hichem Mechichi
Political system: semi-presidential
Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 49 (of 137) (2020)
Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 74 (of 180) (2019)
Estimated GDP: US $ 49.6 billion (2014)
Per capita income (purchasing power parity): $ 9,400
Human Development Rank (HDI): Rank 91 (of 189) (2018)
Proportion of poverty (below $ 3.20 per day; 2011): 9.1%
Distribution of income (Gini coefficient): 35.8
Economic Transformation Index (BTI): Rank 45 of 137 (2020)
Proportion of literate adults: 74%
Major religions: Islam (Sunni, more than 95%)
Urban population: 67%
Life expectancy: 74 (m) / 78 (w) years
Gender Inequality Index: 63 (of 162) (2018)
Number of births: 2.31 / woman (2016)
Infant mortality: 22/1000 live births
Tunisian society with around 11 million residents is relatively homogeneous. Tribal structures hardly play a role and Muslims are in the vast majority with 98%, so that inter-religious tensions in Tunisia are not a big issue either. A good half of the population is under 30 years of age, although society is aging. This is due to various factors. On the one hand, life expectancy is increasing continuously and is currently 74 years. Tunisia also has one of the lowest birth rates in the Arab world: a Tunisian woman has an average of 2.31 children.
Regionalism and the urban-rural relationship
According to homosociety, the Tunisian Revolution has drawn public attention to massive regional tensions and the imbalance between the different regions of the country. Around two thirds of Tunisians live in cities. The main economic centers are on the coast. The interior is far less developed and the economic power lower. In the past, this imbalance has led to massive social tensions and a real rural exodus. The capital Tunis in particular felt this with the arrival of a relatively destitute rural population, who settled in initially illegal settlements on the outskirts, especially in the 1960’s and 1970’s. These settlements were called ceinture rouge, or red belt, because they encircled the city. These settlements have since been given official status, but they often remain socially disadvantaged.
While Habib Bourguiba has a uniform Tunisian identity with reference to the independence he has just wanted to create by suppressing tribal structures and marginalizing ethnic minorities, a cautious revival can be felt after the revolution. So for example, requires living in southern Tunisia Berber minority, the recognition of their language and sets open the amazighische flag on display. In the country, the traditions are even more present, especially older women often wear Berber costumes and are still tattoos.
Social situation and social classes
Almost a quarter of the population lives in poverty. Nonetheless, the country has a relatively broad, well-defined middle class of self-employed small business owners, employees and civil servants (whose incomes are comparatively low) and a narrow upper class. This is divided into the long-established educated middle class and the economic elite. An essential distinguishing feature in this regard is language. The bourgeois upper class often speaks French more and better than Arabic, which is often due to the fact that private French schools usually have a better education offer as state schools. Especially with younger people who do not come from the classical educated bourgeoisie, however, French is increasingly losing importance, while English is becoming more and more important.
Especially in the slums of big cities, but also in impoverished regions of the interior, the frustration and lack of prospects among young people is increasing. Self-immolation has increased sharply since 2011. The number of irregular attempts to flee across the Mediterranean to Europe was higher in 2017 than it has been since 2011. Two thirds of migrants are between 20 and 30 years old, according to a study by the FTDES. Due to the worsening of the economic crisis caused by the corona pandemic, the migration numbers rose again in 2020.
Tunisia has a number of institutions that deal with human rights. However, even after the upheaval, the country regularly scores poorly in reports from international human rights organizations. The current annual report of Amnesty International lists restricted freedom of the press and expression, torture of prisoners and attacks against opposition members. The situation has improved since the fall of Ben Ali, but human rights violations still occur, according to the International Human Rights League (FIDH).
There are repeated trials against civilians in military courts. For example, the lawsuits of the families of the martyrs of the revolution are being negotiated there as well as a case against blogger Yassine Ayari, who criticized the Tunisian military on Facebook.
The death penalty exists in Tunisia but is not carried out. Since the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has ratified various international conventions: an additional protocol to the international anti-torture convention, the convention against kidnappings, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the CEDAW and the non-binding amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.