Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Tropical Forests to Twelfth Century >> Tunis

Tunis

french, miles, north, paris, government, tunisie, principal and london

TUNIS, Kir& (AraixivA), North Africa one of the old Barbary States on the Mediter ranean coast, formerly tributary to Turkey, and now a French protectorate, bounded on the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea, on the south by Tripoli and on the west by Al geria. It extends about 400 miles from north to south, 150 miles from east to west and has an area of 38,450 square miles. The coast is indented by the three large gulfs of Tunis, Hammamet • and Gabes. It is bordered by a low, sandy and desert region in the cast and by precipitous mountains in the north.. The northern part of the country is a plateau, be coming very mountainous in the extreme north. The southern part is a flat steppe region, lying partly below sea-level, and containing large tracts of salt marsh. The principal river is the Mejirda, in the north. The northern moun tains are covered with large oak forests, and contain very fertile valleys. The principal minerals exploited are salt, nitre and phos phates, iron, lead and mercury. Large num bers of cattle, sheep, camels and fine horses are raised. Agriculture is less developed, though climate and soil in the north are favor able. There is some vine and oil culture, and considerable fisheries along the coast, but the industries are not important. The principal commercial ports are Tunis-Goletta, Susa and Sfax. The chief exports are vegetables, oil, phosphates and mineral ores, esparto-grass. livestock and cattle products, sponges, dyes and fruits. The total value of exports in 1916 was $23,750,000, and of imports $26,850,000. The head of the immediate government is the native bey, who rules under French protection. The capital is Tunis. The population is of a very mixed character, containing, besides the Moors, traces of the ancient Numidian, Phoenician and Roman elements. The total population is about 1,906,000. In 1918 there were 48,000 French and 130,000 other foreigners, including 112,000 Italians. Tunis was a part of the ancient Carthaginian dominion, and afterward of the Roman province of Africa. In the latter part of the 7th century it was taken by the Arabs, and in 1575 it came under Turkish suzerainty. In 1881 France invaded Tunis under pretext of punishing the Krumir marauders. As a result of the invasion the bey was forced to sign the treaty making the state a French protectorate.

Education.— There are about 287 public schools, eight lycees and colleges and 23 private schools. There are 30,767 pupils of whom 18,731 are boys. Of all pupils, 7,025 are French, 9,639 Mussulman; 4,870 Jews, 9,639 Italian ; 1,570 Maltese and 280 others. In the Great Mosque

at Tunis there is a Mohammedan university. In the city are 86 and in the interior 1,214 Mussulman primary schools, some of which receive state-aid.

Government.— The government is carried on under the direction of the French Foreign Office, which has a special department for Tu nisian affairs under the control of a French Minister Resident-General, who is also Tuni sian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a min istry of 10 heads of departments, eight of whom are French. French tribunals take cognizance of cases between Europeans and between Europeans and Tunisians, and there are native courts for cases between natives.

Finance.— The 1916 revenues aggregated $12,843,245, made up from direct taxation $2,278,845, indirect taxation $3,878,180, mo nopolies (tobacco, etc.) $4,384,385, post office, telegraphs, etc., $607,095 and royalties, etc., $1,694,740. In the same year the disbursements amounted to $12,283,945, for the civil list the residency and district services, public debt charges, the various government departments and the army. The public debt is about $t50, 000,000.

Communications.— About 2,000,000 tons of shipping enter and clear annually at Tunisian ports. About 37,962 miles of good roads have been constructed within the last 30 years. There are in operation 1,535 miles of railway, 3,721 miles of telegraphs, 254 telegraph offices, which handle annually about 1,700,000 messages. There are 724 miles of urban telephone lines and interurban systems with 2,717 miles of wire. There are 456 post offices, .which in 1916 handled 41,077,660 letters in the internal service, and 71,111,196 in the external service.

Defense.— There is an army of occupation maintained by France, and having an average strength of 17,000 to 18,000, with 600 officers. There are a few native regiments (spahis, etc.) included in this force. In the Great War 1914-18 about 35,000 Tunisian troops served under the tricolor in France.

Bibliography.— Journal officiel Tunisian; Foreign Office Reports (London annually) ; Annuaire Statistique de Tunisic (Paris) ; Besnier et alii, (La Tunisie an debut du XXe siecle' (Paris 1904) ; Bloesch, H., (Tunis' (Berlin 1916) • Geft, L., 'La Tunisie econo mique) (Paris 1910) ; Hesse-Wartegg, Chevalier de, 'Tunis, the Land and the People' (2d ed., London 1899) ; Lanessan, de, (La Tunisie) (Paris 1917) ; Thomas, P., (Essai dune descrip tion geologique de la Tunisie' (Paris 1908) ; Vivian, IL, (Tunisia and the Modern Barbary Pirates' (London 1899).