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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Tunisian(s).
Population (2003): 9.9 million.
Annual growth rate (2003): 1.14%.
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 98%, European 1%, other 1%.
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish less than 1%.
Languages: Arabic (official), French.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--66.7% (male 78.6%; female 54.6%).
Health (2001): Infant mortality rate--25.8/1,000. Life expectancy--70.1 years male, 74.2 years female.
Work force (2003, 3.4 million) Services--44.1%; industry--33.2%; agriculture--22%.
People of Tunisia
Modern Tunisians are the descendents of indigenous Berbers and of people from numerous civilizations that have invaded, migrated to, and been assimilated into the population over the millenia. Recorded history in Tunisia begins with the arrival of Phoenicians, who founded Carthage and other North African settlements in the 8th century BC. Carthage became a major sea power, clashing with Rome for control of the Mediterranean until it was defeated and captured by the Romans in 146 B.C. The Romans ruled and settled in North Africa until the 5th century when the Roman Empire fell and Tunisia was invaded by European tribes, including the Vandals. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century transformed Tunisia's and the make-up of its population, with subsequent waves of migration from around the Arab and Ottoman world, including significant numbers of Spanish Moors and Jews at the end of the 15th century. Tunisia became a center of Arab culture and learning and was assimilated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was a French protectorate from 1881 until independence in 1956, and retains close political, economic, and cultural ties with France.
Nearly all Tunisians (98% of the population) are Muslim. There has been a Jewish population on the southern island of Djerba for 2000 years, and there remains a small Jewish population in Tunis which is descended from those who fled Spain in the late 15th century. There is no indigenous Christian population. Small nomadic indigenous minorities have been mostly assimilated into the larger population.