Tunisia Descriptive Essay
Some Arab countries have met the new millennium being at opposite poles of socio-economic and socio-political development. Tunisia has held and holds its own special and worthy place in the process of the development dynamics and ongoing differentiation in the Arab world.
Tunisia was part of the Roman Empire (Abun-Nasr); there existed Berber settlements. Then, the country was settled by Arabs who founded the first Arab city in North Africa. This city, Kairouan, has become the center of the Trans-Saharan trade. Later, Tunisia became part of the Ottoman Empire. However, since the end of the 16th century, the power of the Turkish sultan was the nominal here. The state was actually run by independent beys, who established Muradid dynasty in 1612 (Seungwoo). In 1705, under the rule of beys, an independent state was created. In 1881-1883, France has imposed protectorate on Tunisia, plunging it into its colonial empire. Tunisia became an independent country in July 1957 (Abun-Nasr).
The capital of Tunisia is named commonly to the country – Tunis. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in the 10th century BC (“A Short History of Africa”). Tunis is the main cultural and economic center of the country. This city is simultaneously urban and provincial, Eastern and Western. The city’s population is approximately 700,000 (Byrne). In Greater Tunis, which includes the suburbs, there are nearly 2 million people. Tunis is a modern city; there are modern highways, ground subway, modern hotels, restaurants, stadiums, museums.
Tunisian Republic borders on the southeast with Libya and on the west with Algeria, being located in the north of Africa. Mediterranean Sea washes the northern and eastern shores of the country. Tunisia has 23 Governorates, which are divided into 2,600 counties (delegation).
The flag of Tunisia is a red cloth with a white circle in the center, which depicts the crescent and star – a symbol of Islam – the state’s religion. The red color of the flag and the symbols on it are descended from the Ottoman Empire, which included Tunisia. In fact, this flag has existed since 1835. The proportions of the flag are 3: 2, and the date of adoption is June 1, 1959 (CIA).
97% of the population is the Arabs. However, there is a small part (1%) of the Berbers. There is also a small number of Catholics. The population is 10,080,000 people. In recent years, the birth rate fell down sharply in Tunisia. In 2006, the total fertility rate was estimated at 1.75 children per woman. This is the lowest rate among the Arab countries and is significantly below the level necessary for simple reproduction of the population (CIA).
As was mentioned above, Tunisia was a French colony and gained independence in 1957. Since that time, the country was led by President Habib Bourguiba. He did a lot for the people of Tunisia; he was a talented leader and a highly educated man. However, in 1987, he was removed from power for health reasons. Habib Bourguiba died in 2000 at home, in the city of Monastir. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali became the next president. Under his rule, the country began to roll down, the economy started to fall. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown in 2011 (Perkins). In Tunisia, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Until now, the president is Montsef Marzouki (Perkins).
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In the last election to the country’s parliament, Islamist party Ennahda admitted defeat from the secular party Nida Tunisia. According to the latest batch, Nida Tunisia got 85 seats in the parliament, and Ennahda got 69 (Perkins). The difference is negligible, but it allows calling Tunisia a pleasant exception to the chaos of the Arab Spring, an oasis of tranquility, a hotbed of European style in the north of Africa, the stronghold of tourism, etc.
Tunisia has the economy with the benefit of agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing. The country implemented qualitative social policies that resulted in better living conditions Tunisia has ever had. Having the average of 5% of real growth over the last ten years, it was down to 4.3% in 2009-2010. The causes are less import to European markets, the main market for Tunisian economy, and the economic recession itself. However, agricultural production surplus and rise of non-textile industry along with implementation in the sector of services helped to avoid massive economy’s deficit (Perkins).
Tunisia is a developing country making every effort to achieve better growth results in living standards to prove sufficient country’s employment base. The indicators are as follows:
GDP (purchasing power parity): $ 100.3 billion, country comparison to the world: 70;
GDP (official exchange rate): $ 43.86 billion;
GDP – real growth rate: 3.4%;
GDP – per capita (PPP): $ 9,500;
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 10.6%; industry: 34.6%; services: 54.8%;
Labor force: 3.83 million;
Labor force – by occupation: services: 49.8%; industry: 31.9%; agriculture: 18.3%;
Unemployment rate: 14%. (National Institute of Statistics)
Thanks to peg to the basket of currencies (over 2/3 of which is the euro), Tunisia managed to avoid pressure on the national currency – the euro in relation to the average exchange rate of the dinar has not changed by more than 2.5% (British Arab Commercial Bank). However, quite correct policy of the central bank has led to the decrease in gold reserves by approximately 20%. Nevertheless, some researchers believe that the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Tunisia is not characterized by high efficiency; as a result of intervention in the foreign exchange market, it does not meet the declared objectives.
The main importing countries of Tunisia are France and Italy (40.8% and 27.5% of exports to the euro area for 11 months in 2011) (British Arab Commercial Bank). Coupled with declining remittances caused, including France’s policy to reduce unemployment among the citizens of this country at the expense of migrants, it all can increase the pressure on the currency and complicate the financing of the budget deficit. In addition, the recession in Europe and expulsion of migrants may increase tension on the labor market in Tunisia that will aggravate the social situation. In addition, a great risk of restricting access to international capital markets is due to the reduction of loan portfolios of European banks. The total external debt of the private sector in Tunisia has exceeded $ 10.7 billion, while approximately half of its urgency had up to 1 year; thus, the inability to refinance this debt can lead to stagnation. Statistics of the Bank for International Settlements already reflects the drop in investor demand for Tunisian assets: for example, the total value of bonds owned by the investors declined by approximately $ 700 million; the volume of export finance decreased by another $ 340 million (British Arab Commercial Bank).
Currently, Tunisia is actively developing, modernizing and building a network of health care. The competence of physicians, advanced and reliable healthcare facilities of Tunisia marked the quality of the international level. Tunisian doctors have proven their skills which are recognized worldwide. They have a high level of medical training and international experience; they participate regularly in international medical events. Tunisian law №91-63 adopted on 29 July 1991 states that “everyone has the right to health in the best possible conditions” (Gottret, Schieber, and Waters). The public sector remains the main provider of preventive health care, especially hospitals. The country has about 3,000 health centers, consisting of local, district and regional hospitals.
With its rich cultural heritage, traditional arts and crafts, Tunisia also has a vast variety. Traditionally, crafts in Tunisia are presented in several types. One of them is manufacturing of silver jewelry. Moreover, the jewelry is made of glass beads, coins and corals. National characteristics of Tunisians are dictated mainly by Muslim religion. However, compared to other countries dominated by Islam, Tunisia has quite soft requirements and restrictions. Here, one can freely buy alcoholic beverages, wear revealing clothing within the resort areas and even sunbathe topless on site. However, in the capital and traditional neighborhoods, it is desirable to adopt a more modest style of dress, and visiting the holy places is permitted only in closed dresses. It is impossible to drink alcoholic beverages in the streets or to appear drunk. It is not recommended to overlook people carefully, particularly women veiled, since it may be considered an insult.
Tunisian cuisine is closer to Europe than the traditional Arab. Only chilly Tabasco-Harissa is served in a separate bowl with the olive oil (“Tunisian Culture”). Harissa is eaten with pieces of bread dipped in it, with pepper amount depending on the trajectory and strength of one’s hand to push into the contents of a plate. With regard to the grain, there are two types: pita and loaf. Tunisians break bread with hands and consume it in large quantities.
Maloof is Tunisian home musical tradition (“Tunisian Culture”). This musical genre is Andalusian in origin, and it is a direct consequence of the invasion of Spain in the conquest of Tunisia. Maloof is performed to the accompaniment of several musical instruments: violin, drums, lutes, and sitar, an Indian musical instrument.
Tunisian woman has equal rights with men in employment. Today, Tunisian women have achieved success in many areas of life: science, culture, art, medicine, journalism and so on. However, they accept own freedom not as a nice dress or a nice haircut or, moreover, exemption from customs and traditions. Freedom of Tunisian woman lays in rights and obligations to her husband, family and the motherland.
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Having strong cultural features, Tunisian people realize that in the era of globalization, the future belongs to the large states or group of states, and the Tunisian leadership pursued a policy of integration with Europe. In the context of a well-functioning system of state power, modern legislation, geographical proximity to Europe, a favorable climate for companies doing business, Tunisian Muslim world not only infringes European values, but also modernizes them. Tunisian Republic is a shining example of not only successful economic and political transformation, but also the acceptation and re-formation of Western culture, which is different by a number of parameters from the policy pursued by its closest Arab neighbors.