Tunis is the capital and largest city of Tunisia. Tunis was built at the end of the shallow Lake of Tunis, an inlet of the Gulf of Tunis, and is linked with its port, Ḥalq al-Wādī, 6 miles (10 km) to the northeast. The greater metropolitan area of Tunis, often referred to as "Grand Tunis", has about 2,700,000 inhabitants, making it the third-largest city in the Maghreb region (after Casablanca and Algiers) and the sixteenth-largest in the Arab world.
Situated on a large Mediterranean Sea gulf (the Gulf of Tunis), behind the Lake of Tunis and the port of La Goulette (Ḥalq il-Wād), the city extends along the coastal plain and the hills that surround it. At its core lies its ancient medina, a World Heritage Site. East of the medina through the Sea Gate (also known as the Bab el Bhar and the Porte de France) begins the modern city, or Ville Nouvelle, traversed by the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba (often referred to by popular press and travel guides as "the Tunisian Champs-Élysées"), where the colonial-era buildings provide a clear contrast to smaller, older structures. Further east by the sea lie the suburbs of Carthage, La Marsa, and Sidi Bou Said. As the capital city of the country, Tunis is the focus of Tunisian political and administrative life; it is also the centre of the country's commercial and cultural activities. It has two cultural centres, as well as a municipal theatre that is used by international theatre groups and a summer festival, the International Festival of Carthage, which is held in July.
Data and Facts
- In 2015, an estimated 2.2 million people lived in Tunis city or nearby built-up urban areas. Combining the perimeters for Tunis and the surrounding built-up areas cover a total 170 square miles (440 square kilometers)
- At the country level, Tunisia’s land area covers 59,985 square miles (155,360 square kilometers). The national population count was 11.1 million inhabitants as of July 2016
- Population density is much more concentrated within Tunisia’s capital city with an average 13,200 residents per square mile (5,100 per square kilometer)
- Within the vast Grand Tunis metropolitan region, density diminishes to an average 2,600 people per square mile (1,000 per square kilometer) for Tunis’s greater metropolitan area
- Tunisia exported an estimated US$13.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016. Highest-value Tunisian exports are insulated wire or cable, olive oil, petroleum oil, clothing and electrical circuitry equipment
Tunis has been the capital of Tunisia since 1159. Under Articles 43 and 24 of the Constitution of 1959, Tunis and its suburbs host the national institutions: the Presidential Palace, which is known as Carthage Palace, residence of the President of Tunisia, the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Advisors and parliament, the Constitutional Council and the main judicial institutions and public bodies. The revised Tunisian Constitution of 2014 similarly provides that the National Assembly is to sit in Tunis (article 51) and that the Presidency is based there (article 73). Following the municipal elections of 6 May 2018, Ennahdha obtained 21 seats out of 60. Nidaa Tounes came second with 17 seats. On 3 July 2018, the head of the Ennahdha list Souad Abderrahim was elected by the council as the new mayor of the capital. Before 2011, unlike other mayors in Tunisia, the mayor of Tunis was appointed by decree of the President of the Republic from among the members of the City Council. The 2008 budget adopted by the City Council is structured as follows: 61.61 million dinars for operations and 32,516 million dinars for investment.
It reflects the improved financial situation of the municipality, the year 2007 was a year registering a surplus in resources that allowed the settlement of debts of the municipality and the strengthening of its credibility with respect to its suppliers and public and private partners. Revenues are generated by the proceeds of taxes on buildings and vacant lots, fees for the rental of municipal property, income from the operation of the public, advertising, and the fact that the municipality has capital shares in some companies. On the expenditure side, provision is made for the consolidation of hygiene and cleanliness, the state of the environment and urban design, infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and renovation of facilities, and strengthening the logistics and means of work and transport.
The city of Tunis, whose size has increased significantly during the second half of the 20th century, now extends beyond the Tunis Governorate into parts of the governorates of Ben Arous, Ariana and Manouba. The municipality of Tunis is divided into 15 municipal districts: These include El Bab Bhar, Bab Souika, Cité El Khadra, Jelloud Jebel El Kabaria, El Menzah, El Ouardia, Ettahrir, Ezzouhour, Hraïria, Medina, El Omrane, El Omrane Higher Séjoumi, Sidi El-Bashir and Sidi Hassine.
Products include textiles, carpets, and olive oil. Tourism also provides a significant portion of the city's income. Because of the concentration of political authority and culture , Tunis is the only nationally ranking metropolis. Tunis is the heartland of the Tunisian economy and is the industrial and economic hub of the country, home to one third of Tunisian companies—including almost all the head offices of companies with more than fifty employees, with the exception of the Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, headquartered in Gafsa—and produces a third of the national gross domestic product.
Tunis attracts foreign investors , excluding several areas due to economic imbalances. The urban unemployment rate of university graduates is increasing and the illiteracy rate remains high among the elderly .The number of people living below the poverty line, falling at the national level, remains higher in urban areas. In addition, unemployment is high in young people aged 18 to 24, with one in three unemployed as compared to one in six at the national level. In Greater Tunis, the proportion of young unemployed is at 35%.Gulf finance house or GFH has invested $10 billion in order for the construction of tunis financial harbor, that will transform Tunisia as the gateway to Africa from Europe. The project hopes to boost the economy of Tunisia as well as increase the number of tourists visiting Tunisia annually. The city is the largest financial center in the country hosting the headquarters of 65% of financial companies – while the industrial sectors are gradually declining in importance.
However the secondary industry is still very represented and Tunis hosts 85% of industrial establishments in the four governorates, with a trend towards the spread of specialized industrial zones in the suburbs. Primary industry such as agriculture, however, is active in specialized agricultural areas on the suburbs, particularly in the wine and olive oil industries. The generally flat terrain and the two main rivers in Tunisia, the Medjerda to the north and the Milian to the south, the soils are fertile. Tunis has several large plains, the most productive are in Ariana and La Soukra , the plain of Manouba and the plain of Mornag . In addition, groundwater is easily accessible through the drilling of deep wells, providing water for the different agriculture crops.
The World Bank ranks Tunisia at 74 out of 189 economies around the world in terms of ease of doing business. A company can be established in as little as 10 days with 11 procedures required. Minimum paid up capital required is low at $US500. A resident director is required for certain company set-ups but international incorporation services companies such as Healy Consultants Group PLC can provide nominee services.The workforce is plentiful and young. Literacy is estimated to be around 80% and as high as 100% in the age range 18-25. Employment is reported to be as high as 40% amongst the younger generation so there is a large workforce available with a low minimum wage requirement of only about 147.2 euros per month.The security situation is not ideal and the terrorist group ISIS have caused much havoc here in recent years. The government are working to stabilise the situation though and I just read recently how they have dispatched hundreds of police to the beaches and resorts to patrol and secure the tourist areas. There is talks of the U.K. lifting their travel advise not to travel in phases after the holy month of Ramadan. While the security issues have devastated the tourist industry (hotel occupancy down to as low as 5% according to some source), the economy seems to be weathering the storm.In 2015 the government reduced tax from 30% to 25% for corporations and some startups are even eligible for 5-year tax holiday making it an attractive place for company incorporation in North Africa. Additionally, businesses exporting their products and services are only subject to 10% tax which makes it an ideal place for a call service center and other similar businesses.The language of Tunisia is Tunisian Arabic making communication with their Middle Eastern neighbours smoother. About 30% can speak french and Increasingly university graduates are becoming fluent in English.The OEC report (2014) reports that Tunisia is the 75th largest export economy in the world with exports of $16.1B and imports of $22.7B. Top exports are insulated wire, crude petroleum, non-knit men’s suits, non-knit women’s suits and low voltage protection equipment. Top imports include refined petroleum, petroleum gas, cars, low voltage protection equipment and wheat.World trade Organisation(WTO) – Tunisia has been a member of WTO since 1995 and General Agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) since 1990. It also has double tax avoidance treaties with over 45 countries.
Tunis is served by the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. The growing metropolitan area is served by an extensive network of public transportation including buses, an above-ground light rail system , as well a regional train line that links the city centre to its closest northern suburbs. Multi-lane autoroutes surround the city and serve the increasing number of privately owned cars one encounters in Tunisia. The Tunis area is served by the métro léger and TGM , as well as bus services, and is linked to other places in Tunisia by SNCFT, the national railways. The important transport authorities are the Société des Transports de Tunis [and the Ministry of Transport The A1 motorway connects Tunis with Sfax to the south, and the A3 with Oued Zarga and Béja to the west, while the A4 is the link with Bizerte.
The city has, as of the beginning of the 21st century, a public transportation system developed under the management of the Société des transports de Tunis . In addition to some 200 bus routes, the first light rail line opened in 1985. A new mass transit was planned for Greater Tunis in 2009. This was the RTS , the local equivalent of the Paris RER, which was to carry tens of thousands of travellers from the distant suburbs of Tunis to the centre by using either existing tracks or new tracks yet to be built. The plan was for lines based on certain criteria such as population density and the lack of coverage for a given area. Among the priority lines were: Tunis-Borj Cédria where modernization and electrification are already planned; Tunis-Mohamedia-Fouchana ; Tunis-Manouba-Mnihla ; Tunis-Ezzouhour-Sidi Hassine Séjoumi . In addition, the TGM will be integrated into the light-rail network and a new line built around Ayn Zaghouan and Bhar Lazrag . Such an operation would require the upgrading of the docks' TGM stations so that they become suitable for light rail trains. Among other projects are a line to the city of Ennasr and the extension of the Tunis-Ettadhamen to Mnihla . For its part, the south light-rail line was extended in November 2008 to El Mourouj with a length of 6.8 kilometres . The terminal had 4.4 million passengers in 2006. In 2007 that increased to 6 million passengers with a rise in tourism to the city. After independence, in the 1960s, the National Board of Seaports, which supports all ports in the country, modernized the infrastructure of the port of Tunis.
In the 21st Century, the port of Tunis underwent further transformation with a marina as part of the redevelopment district of La Petite Sicile. Tunis is the starting point from which the main roads and all highways that serve different parts of the country of Tunis originate. This city has a high density of traffic because vehicle ownership is rising at 7.5% per year. The capital is home to approximately 40% of the cars in Tunisia, with 700,000 cars on average used in the city per day. In this context, major road infrastructure was initiated in the late 1990s to decongest the main areas of the capital.
The information and communication technologies sector is a priority sector in Tunisia both as a vector for development of other economic sectors but also as a dynamic sector of innovation open to the international market, export, foreign investment, partnership and subcontracting, particularly with African countries. According to the National Institute of Statistics, the sector contributes 7.5% of the GDP and employs around 86,000 people . It is made up of 2,120 private companies, 219 shared service centers, 8 development centers serving multinationals, a telephone density of 98.8 lines / 100 inhabitants and more than 4.1 million Internet users.
IT in Tunisia has experienced growth in production, investment and scientific training and research potential. According to the National Computer Center / CNI , more than 750 IT companies are engaged in the distribution of IT and engineering products . Most of the renowned international firms are present on the Tunisian market, for example SAGEM, ALCATEL, ORANGE, BULL, ERICSSON, OOREDOO and IBM.The IT Services and Engineering Companies assembles 200 companies, 120 of which are specialized in software development. These companies are primarily located in the greater Tunis area.
The size of the Tunisian market remains relatively small and undercapitalization limits development of IT services companies. These companies are strongly interested in foreign investment and partnership.Despite strengths of the sector, companies remain small, and face demands that come largely from public companies with large orders. Indeed, according to a World Bank report, most ICT companies in Tunisia are relatively young and small. About 80% of companies have less than 50 employees.Commercial opportunities exist in Tunisia due to an ambitious digital plan. The Tunisian market is a favorable destination for foreign ICT companies wanting to establish themselves and carry out privileged exchanges. Tunisia is ideally situated for accessing neighboring markets such as Algeria or Libya, as well as other African or Middle Eastern markets. Note that since 2017, about ten Canadian ICT companies have established themselves in Tunisia.Amounting to $ 100 million, will support an approach to promote technologies applied to public administration the digitization of education management services and the improvement of digital resources to reinforce teaching and learning. Source: the World Bank Group.
The World Bank Group announced two new investment projects in support of Tunisia’s goals of building a new economy that encourages entrepreneurs and generates more opportunities and making government more responsive to the needs of citizens through the digital transformation of key public services. The project will finance equity and quasi-equity investments in innovative startups and SMEs, as well as support for concept development, investment readiness and technology adoption. The project will also help entrepreneurship ecosystem players, such as incubators and accelerators, to enhance and expand the outreach of their programs; including to women-led startups and SMEs and those in the interior regions.The US$100 million Digital Transformation for User-Centric Public Services will support a GovTech approach to improving social protection and education, which puts citizens at the center of the reform process and combines innovations in public sector reform, change management and digital technologies. The aim is to ensure vulnerable populations, such as low-income groups, women in rural areas, illiterates and the disabled have access to these key services, and that systems enable greater citizen feedback to hold these services accountable.The Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Digital Economy will oversee the implementation of both projects. Project Management Units will be housed in the ministry charged with the execution of the projects as well as cross-government coordination with other, concerned ministries. The Innovative Startups and SMEs project will be implemented by the Caisse de Dépôts et Consignations and will be coordinated closely with the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation. The PMUs, and implementing teams, will also coordinate closely with other development partners to ensure complementarity and synergy with ongoing and new investments in the sector.
With the new Start-Up Act, passed on April 2, 2018, Tunisia has started to clear the path for innovation that could lead to economic growth. The Act removed several bureaucratic hurdles that innovative projects faced when creating new business structures—vestiges of a system implemented in colonial times. While the French mostly moved right along modernizing their systems, Tunisia remains stuck in a Kafkaesque maze that is present across every single state office and institution. The Start-Up Act aims to alleviate some of these frustrations. It is a positive and hopeful development for young entrepreneurs looking to change the world around them.
Start-ups currently represent only a small fraction of the economy – their total turnover rate was close to 30 million Dinars in 2018. However, the adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain by multinational organizations could undoubtedly impact not only the economy, but the social understanding of what labor means and how people interact with it. A few projects led by individual ministries are not sustainable or large enough in scope for the long term. It is not enough to have fragmented programs operate in silos within various ministries—it is important to push for the implementation of new technologies to reform the administration itself. Instead, the Tunisian Government could commission a vision-focused, persistent, and structured approach that is implemented with roll-out technology prioritizing inclusion, fairness, and progress.
This agenda would take into consideration the effects that machine learning could have on the job security of hundreds of thousands of public servants. Through the creation of remote or teleworking positions along with a focus on creative, sympathetic, and nuanced thinking; policymakers could make up for the potential loss of jobs that the introduction of public sector automation will cause. New types of work can also help tackle the unemployment rate as the implementation of these new technologies will undoubtedly continue to need more sophisticated skillsets to oversee the work; which require human intervention and oversight. Retraining the public service workforce on the introduction of emerging technology and to mitigate its possible harmful effects is crucial. By recognizing the importance of technology, its clear connection with the economy, and the changing nature of work; the Start-Up Act is a step in the right direction. But for the law to offer real added value to the country, a lot more needs to be done. For the Act to support regional growth, the government should craft communication programs to explain and promote the law with budding start-ups. By showing start-ups how they can use the law for their benefit—in a way that is tailored to the specificities of their region—the government can ensure that start-ups utilize the law fully to continue and expand their work. Disruptive technological change is taking the world by storm, and we are only starting to see the effects of it. Look at the impact of coordinated disinformation campaigns and media manipulation on the democratic process, and repressive regimes’ ubiquitous use of surveillance technologies to suffocate societies and free expression.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
In the years following independence, the population of the metropolitan area continued to grow: by 21.1% from 1956 to 1966 and by 28.5% from 1966 to 1975 . This steady growth was accompanied by changes which affected the nature of the settlement of the capital. Decolonization led to the exodus of some European minorities whose numbers dwindled every year. The gaps created by their departure were filled by Tunisians who emigrated to Tunis from other parts of the country.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the city of Tunis exceeds 2,000,000 inhabitants. After independence, the Tunisian government implemented a plan to cope with population growth of the city and country, a system of family planning, to attempt to lower the rate of population growth. However, between 1994 and 2004, the population of the governorate of Tunis grew more than 1.03% per annum. It represents, in the 2004 census, 9.9% of the total population of Tunisia. As in the rest of Tunisia, literacy in the region of Tunis evolved rapidly during the second half of the 20th century and has reached a level slightly higher than the national average. In 1964 the Dar Ben Abdallah, a palace probably dating back to the 18th century, became the seat of the capital's Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. In its exposition halls it holds numerous traditional items, witnesses of the everyday lives of families of the Medina quarter. The Museum of the National Movement is situated in Dar Maâkal Az-Zaïm, which was the residence of nationalist Habib Bourguiba for the entirety of the fight for independence. After the advent of independence, a museum was built there to relate the details of the national struggle between 1938 and 1952. The National Military Museum, opened in 1989 in the suburbs west of the city, holds a collection of 23,000 weapons, 13,000 of which date back to the 19th century, and some of which were used by the Tunisian troops during the Crimean War. Tunis holds some of the most prestigious musical institutions in the country. The Rachidia was founded in 1934 to safeguard Arab music, and in particular to promote Tunisian and malouf music. The group is made up of 22 members, both instrumental players and choral musicians. The Musical Troupe of the City of Tunis was created in 1954 by Salah El Mahdi. It worked on promoting Arab music, on music education and training, and on cooperation with various partners both in Tunisia and abroad. The Tunisian Symphony Orchestra, created in 1969 by the Minister of Culture, has also produced monthly concerts at the Municipal Theater and in various cultural spaces in the city.
Tunis is a center of Tunisian culture. The Théâtre municipal de Tunis, opened on 20 November 1902, showcases opera, ballet, symphonic concerts, drama, etc. On the stage of this theater, many performances are regularly given by Tunisian, Arabic and international actors. The National Theatre of Tunisia is an important public enterprise in Tunis, and since 1988 been located in the Khaznadar palace , renamed «Theater Palace.» In 1993, it also took possession of the former movie theater Le Paris, with a 350-person seating capacity. During each «cultural season» the theater holds over 80 events. The Al Hamra theater was the second theater to be opened in Tunis, situated on El Jazira Road. Al Hamra was one of the most famous theaters in the capital during the 1930s and 1940s. After being closed for fifteen years, it was turned into a small theater in 1986, and since 2001 has housed the first Arab-African center for theater training and research.