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Habib Bourguiba, Atlas Mountains, Ottoman Turks, Carthaginians, Tunisians

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Tunisia, country on the north coast of Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Atlas Mountains run across the country, dividing the country’s fertile northern plains from the hotter, dryer southern regions. The Sahara, the vast desert that covers much of northern Africa, begins in southern Tunisia.

Tunisia is a small country by North African standards, sandwiched between the much larger countries of Algeria to the west and Libya to the southeast. The northernmost country in Africa, Tunisia is bounded on the north and east by the Mediterranean. The country’s strategic location has brought it into contact with many civilizations that sought control of North Africa, including those of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, and Ottoman Turks.

Tunisia was a colony of France from 1881 until it gained independence in 1956. Habib Bourguiba, considered the founder of modern Tunisia, led the country to independence and served as its president for 30 years. Since independence Tunisia has been an oasis of stability in North Africa. Islam is the state religion and nearly all Tunisians are Muslims, but the government has resisted efforts of Islamic fundamentalists to become a political force as they have done in neighboring Algeria and Libya.

Today, Tunisia is a popular tourist destination, noted for its sunny weather, splendid beaches, varied scenery, Saharan oases, and well-preserved ancient Roman sites. Tunis, a seaport on the eastern coast, is the capital and largest city.



Boroweic, Andrew. Modern Tunisia: A Democratic Apprenticeship. Greenwood, 1998. A study of Tunisia's success in eliminating the threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism.

Fox, Mary V. Tunisia. Rev. ed. Children's Press, 1994. Country profile for younger readers.

Henry, Clement M. The Mediterranean Debt Crescent: Money and Power in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. University Press of Florida, 1996. Tunisia's economic history and progress compared and contrasted with four neighboring nations.

Ling, Dwight L. Morocco and Tunisia: A Comparative History. University Press of America, 1979. Contrasts two countries with similar historical backgrounds but different political paths.

Perkins, Kenneth J. Historical Dictionary of Tunisia. 2nd ed. Scarecrow, 1997.

Rogerson, Barnaby. A Traveler's History of North Africa. Interlink, 1998. North African history from Carthaginian times to the present day.


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