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History of Tunisia
History of Tunisia
Early History
  Berber origins, culture, society
Punic Era
  Phoenicia, Carthage; Berbers, Romans
Roman Era
  Africa Province; Berbers; Vandals
Early Islamic Era
  Ifriqiya: Umayyad, Abassid, Fatimid
Medieval Era
  Berber states: Zirid, Almohad, Hafsid
Ottoman Era
  Beylerbey; Muradid, Husaynid; Reform
  French Era
  Protectorate; Independence movement
  Modern Era
  Republic: Bourghiba, Ben Ali

The History of Tunisia is divided into eight articles:


Today Tunisia is an independent republic (al-Jumhuriyyah at-Tunisiyyah). Yet during its long history many peoples have arrived, listed here in reverse chronological order. The French most recently, who incorporated Tunisia in their sphere (1881-1956); also many Italians came to settle. Before, the Ottoman Turks had seized lasting control from a Spanish occupation in 1574 and then ruled indirectly, e.g., via the Husaynid Beys; with the Turks arrived a multi-ethnic influx. The long medieval era had seen a cultural renaissance also under regimes of native Berbers, already Arabized: first the Zirid, then the Almohad, and later the Hafsid.

The Islamic era had opened with the arrival of the Arabs, who brought their language and the religion of Islam, and its calendar.[1] During the last pre-Islamic centuries the Byzantines ruled along with Berbrer vassals, and before them the Vandals. Over two thousand years ago the Romans came; their cosmopolitan Empire long governed the region as part of the Mediterranean world. The Phoenicians arrived by sea from the east about three thousand years ago and later founded here the celebrated city of Carthage. Also came migrations from the Sahel region of Africa. Perhaps eight millennia ago, already there were peoples established here, among whom the proto-Berbers (coming overland from the east) mingled and mixed, and from whom the Berbers would spring, during an era of their ethno-genesis.[2][3]

Topography of Tunisia.

Climatic change Throughout its recorded history the physical features and environment of the land now called Tunisia have remained fairly constant; however, yet during ancient times more abundant forests grew in the north.[4] Earlier in an era of prehistory the Sahara region to the south was not an arid desert, but in places became grasslands with seasonal lakes.[5][6]

Geography Weather in the far north is temperate, enjoying a Mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters and hot dry summers, the terrain being wooded and fertile. The river valley of the Medjerda (Wadi Majardah, north and west of modern Tunis) (anciently called the river Bagradas) has been throughout history very productive and very valuable farmland. Along the eastern coast the "central plains" enjoy a moderate climate, less rainfall but with heavy dew; these coastlands are currently used for orchards (e.g., olive trees) and grazing. Near the mountainous Algerian border to the west rises Jebel ech Chambi, the highest point at 1544 meters. From here at the high tell descending to Cape Bon runs (southwest to northeast) the Dorsale range, which is cut by several passes, including the Kasserine.[7] In the near south, an east-west belt of salt lakes cuts across the low-lying country. Further south lies the Sahara desert, here by the eastern edge of the vast sand dunes comprising the Grand Erg Oriental.[8][9][10 ]

The Coat of Arms of the Republic of Tunisia

The present day Republic of Tunisia has over ten million citizens, almost all of Arab-Berber descent. The Mediterranean Sea lies to the north and east, Libya extends to the southeast, and Algeria is west. The capital Tunis has beeb the principal city in the region for over eight centuries; located south of the Medjerda river and north of Cap Bon, Tunis is near the ancient site of the city of Carthage.


  1. ^ The Islamic calendar starts on July 16, 622 A.D., a day estimated for Muhammad's flight (Hijra) from Mecca to Medina. Years in this calendar are designated A.H. for Anno Hegirae, the Hijri year. Since the Islamic calendar is strictly lunar, it runs about eleven and one-quarter days shorter than a solar year; hence calculation of dates between this lunar calendar and a solar calendar are complicated. The calendar used in this article is a solar calendar, the traditional western or the Gregorian calendar, with the years dating from an approximate birth date of Jesus ['Isa in Islam], designated either B.C. for Before Christ, or thereafter A.D. for Anno Domini. Alternatively the western calendar can be renamed to sanction a secular modernism, a nominal neutrality, or otherwise, the years B.C. and A.D. being called B.C.E. and C.E., for Common Era. For prehistory, the kya (thousands of years ago) notation is occasionally employed.
  2. ^ Gabriel Camps, Les Berbères (Aix-en-Provence: Edisud 1996) at 11-14.
  3. ^ Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers (Oxford: Blackwell 1996) at 14-15.
  4. ^ Cf., LaVerle Berry and Robert Rinehart, "The Society and Its Environment" at 71-143, 79, in Nelson (editor), Tunisia. A Country Study (Washington, D.C., 3rd ed. 1987).
  5. ^ Prior to 6000 years ago, evidently the vast Sahara region to the south was better watered, more a savanna which could support herds; yet then a desiccation process set in, leaving the parched desert it is today. Robert Rinehart, "Historical Setting" at 1-70, 4, in Nelson (editor), Tunisia. A Country Study (Washington, D.C., 3rd ed. 1987).
  6. ^ Emile F. Gautier, Le Sahara (Paris: Payot, 2nd ed. 1928), expanded edition translated by Dorothy Ford Mayhew as Sahara. The Great Desert (Columbia Univ. 1935) at 56-61.
  7. ^ LaVerle Berry and Robert Rinehart, "The Society and Its Environment" at 71-143, 76, map at 75, in Nelson, editor, Tunisia. A country study (Washington, D.C.: American Univ., 3d ed. 1986
  8. ^ Kenneth J. Perkins, Tunisia. Crossroads of the Islamic and European Worlds (Boulder, Colorado: Westview 1986) at 1-5.
  9. ^ Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib (Cambridge Univ. 1971) at 1-6.
  10. ^ The World Factbook on "Tunisia".



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