Tunisia. According to
Countryaah official website, President Zayn al-Abidin Ben Ali took home 99.4%
of the vote in the October presidential election, thus
securing a third five-year term in office. For the first
time since Ben Ali took power through a coup in 1987,
opposition politicians were allowed to run for office. Two
parties each had their own candidate, both of whom were
unbelievably loyal to Ben Ali during the election campaign.
In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, the
president's party, the ruling RCD (Rassemblement
constitutionnel démocratique, Constitutional Democratic
Assembly), received 91.6% of the vote, thereby taking home
all the 148 seats in the election. The remaining 34 seats
were reserved by law for legal opposition parties. In April,
Ben Ali re-furnished the government with the aim of gaining
confidence in the business community. Relations with the
country's entrepreneurs had been damaged by tax increases
intended to offset the drop in customs revenue that had
arisen in Tunisia's trade agreement with the EU.
In November, several hundred political prisoners were
released. According to the human rights organization Amnesty
International, some 600 Islamists and a number of communists
were among the released. However, the organization pointed
out that there were still about 1,000 political prisoners in
President Ben Ali visited Morocco for the first time in
Tunisia's older history
Tunisia's oldest history coincides with developments in
central northern Africa, where tools have been made that
show that there has been a form of human-like presence there
for up to 2.4 million years. It is in particular the finds
of stone implements and animal bones at Ain Boucherit in the
northeastern part of present-day Algeria, ie not far from
modern Tunisia, that support this - although no remains of
human-like species have been found.
Other discoveries in the region indicate the presence of
the hominids (primates, including the homo
erectus) about 200,000 years back in time. Such remains
have been found, among others, in Saïda in today's Algeria.
These include a culture called ateries, after the
Bir al-Atir site, in eastern Algeria, on the border with
Tunisia. This is known for its tools, from up to 130,000
years back in time.
Especially in today's Tunisia, but also elsewhere in
North Africa, several discoveries have been made after a
hunter culture called the capsia. Stone tools from here are
dated to between 10,000 and 6,000 years BCE. Neolithic
culture, with agriculture and animal husbandry, grew up on
the coast and in the Sahara 4000–6000 years ago, before the
area became desert.
In Mesolithic (older Stone Age), several peoples, some of
supposed origins in Asia, migrated into North Africa. These
formed the basis of what is considered Tunisia's original
population: berbers (imazighen), which were divided into
several tribes. Tunisia's oldest history, as well as parts
of the modern, are therefore closely related to the Berbers,
but the oldest time is poorly documented.
Today's Tunisia was in ancient times in an area of
northern Africa that the Greeks called Libya, and a Roman
province they called Africa, after a former Phoenician
designation. The later Arab conquerors continued this use (Ifrïqiyyah),
originally of an area that included modern Tunisia and
eastern parts of Algeria.