Early to modern times
The area of today’s Tunisia was already around 5000 to 1300 BC. settled by tribes from the Central Sahara. The Berber people descended from these groups. Around 813 BC The city of Carthage was founded on the Byrsa hill (today on the outskirts of Tunis) and developed over the following centuries to become the leading trading power in the western Mediterranean. Carthage was the center of a powerful empire, which included most of North Africa, the south of the Iberian Peninsula, Sardinia and parts of Sicily. The confrontation with the Roman Empire led to the three Punic Wars (since 264 BC), the 146 BC. ended with the destruction of Carthage. The Romans then founded the Province of Africa. In the 5th century AD the Germanic tribe of the vandals invaded the province and held power there for around a century before Rome came into play again.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Tunisia. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Tunisia flags.
In the 7th century the Arabs conquered the country and the Roman-Christian culture was replaced by that of Islam. This rule lasted until the early 15th century, when the country was first conquered by Spain and then by the Ottoman Empire (1574). Among the Beys (Husseinites) used by the Pasha, the country achieved limited autonomy and wealth (not least due to piracy). The Husseinite dynasty remained nominally at the head of Tunisia until 1957.
19th and early 20th centuries
According to AbbreviationFinder, the French invaded Tunisia in the 1880s, and in May 1881 the ruling Bey signed the Bardo Treaty, which placed the country under French protectorate. With the French occupying power and the French settlers, European way of life and ideals came to Tunisia.
From the beginning of the 20th century, nationalist movements that demanded independence from France were increasingly formed in Tunisia. The Destur Party was founded in 1920 and advocated extensive democratic reforms. In 1934, the politician Habib Bourguiba, who played an important political role in the Tunisian independence movement, founded the Neo Destur Party, which also found support abroad.
Tunisia was gradually gaining independence. In 1949, Bourguiba returned from exile, to which he had been exiled by the French after the end of the Second World War, and started his political activities again. On March 20, 1956, the Bardo Treaty of 1881 was overridden and Tunisia gained its independence. Habib Bourguiba was elected with an overwhelming majority as state and prime minister. A year later, the Bey was deposed and the republic proclaimed. Relations with France deteriorated drastically when the National Assembly decided in 1964 to expropriate all foreign landowners.
Bourguiba was repeatedly confirmed in office or appointed president for life in 1975. The social tensions and general strikes that existed in the country did not subside until 1981 when there was a move away from the one-party system. It was not until 1987 that the now 84-year-old Bourguiba was sold. His successor was Zain al-Abidin Ben Ali, who was again elected for another term in October 1999 with 99.4% of the vote. In the parliamentary elections in the same month, the ruling party (Democratic Constitutional Party) won around 91% of the vote, while the six allowed opposition parties received less than 9%. Ben Ali, like his predecessor, managed to keep burgeoning Islamic fundamentalism at bay by promoting the country’s Arab-Islamic character, but also maintained its ties to the West. However, opposition supporters were also handicapped and persecuted. In May 2002, government officials said over 99% of the electorate approved a constitutional amendment that would allow President Ben Ali to remain in office longer than originally planned. In the presidential election in October 2009, Ben Ali won 89.6% of the vote. Although serious opponents were eliminated in the run-up to the election, this is his worst result so far.
The government’s goals for the period up to 2011 were to reduce unemployment, modernize the economy and build a knowledge society.
In December 2010, due to dissatisfaction with the economic situation and decades of rule by Ben Ali, protests by the Tunisians finally began, which spread to large parts of Arabia in the following months as the so-called Arab Spring. On January 14, 2011, Ben Ali fled the country out of fear of a violent coup, and government affairs have led various interim governments since then. However, the process of democratization is extremely difficult and the protests and demonstrations are not completely calming down either. Due to the uncertain situation, thousands of Tunisians fled to Europe via the Mediterranean. Finally, in October 2011, a constituent assembly was elected that established a transitional government and president.