Tunisia. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Tunisia. 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 Tunisian prisons.
President Ben Ali visited Morocco for the first time in March.
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.