TUNIS (Fr. Tunisic). A French protecto rate in North Africa. It is the most northern of African countries, and is bounded on the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea, on the south by Tripoli and the Sahara, and on the west by Algeria (Map: Africa, E I). Its boundaries are still indefinite, but the area is estimated at 51,000 square miles. Tunis is physically continuous with the rest of North western Africa. The northern part is a moun tainous plateau constituting thee eastern exten sion of the Algerian coast range and the main range of the Atlas Mountains. Its elevation is on an average about 1500-2000 feet, rising in the peak of Sidi Ali, and in other summits to heights of 5700-6500 feet. This plateau region is fairly well watered by numerous small streams, many of which are perennial, the vege tation in the northern mountains being abundant, with dense forests. The chief stream is the Meje•da, the ancient Bagradas. The southern half of the plateau, generally treeless, is cov ered with esparto grass. On the north coast the plateau falls abruptly in steep cliffs toward the sea ; on the east coast, however, there is a low re gion about 60 miles wide, fertile in the north, but becoming arid in the south. The southern half of Tunis belongs to tne Sahara region, and, with the exception of a group of mountains in the southeast, is generally low. in some places even below sea level. In its northern part is the great salt marsh of the Jerid, surrounded by numerous hot springs, which arc used for irriga tion. The date palm is here indigenous, and grows in large numbers. but the rest of the Sahara region is arid. The climate of Tunis is healthful, with a temperature ranging from 50° to 96°. The rainfall averages 22 inches in the north, and is there fairly regular. In the south years may pass without any regular rains, though occasionally there are heavy showers which raise the average to nearly ten inches. The flora and fauna are almost identical with those of Algeria (q.v.). Geologically Tunis is of eomparatively recent formation, the moun tains being mostly Tertiary. the coast region Quaternary, and parts of the plateau Cretaceous.
The chief mineral products are zinc, lead, iron, salt, gypsum, phosphates, and marble. Agricul ture, the main industry. shows signs of prog,ress. Cereals and the vine are mainly cultivated in the northern part, where the holdings arc small.
Farther south the holdings are large and de voted to stock-breeding and the cultivation of olives (about 500,000 acres) and date palms.
The chief products are olives and olive oil, grain, fruits, and cork. The leading acreages in 1900 were 1,075,000 each for wheat and for barley. Large numbers of sheep, goats, cattle, camels, asses, and mules are reared. Tunis has practically no industries except the nhtive •or household. Carpets, saddles, and other leather articles and woolen goods are produced. The fisheries, controlled by the Italians, arc active and yield principally attaches, sardines, and sponges. There are sixteen ports, three of them excellent. In 1901 they registered an en tering tonnage of 2,724,092—about one-half French. The trade is increasing, but chiefly in imports, the exports in 1901 leaving been only about 6'0 per cent. of the imports. The total commerce in 1S95 amounted to about $10,400, 000; in 1901, to $20,760,000. Olives and olive oil, cereals, animals and animal products rep resent the leading items of the exports; cereals and textiles (notably cottons) those of the im ports. Nearly one-half the total trade is with France. There arc 576 miles of railway—all controlled by the French.
The French protectorate dates from BSI. At the nominal head of the Government is the native Bey, assisted by nine ministers—seven French and two native—who administer nine de partments. There is also the :Minister of For eign Affairs, who is the French Resident-General. He is virtually the Viceroy. All foreigners are governed directly by the French. Tunis has thirteen civil and two military districts and a military post—all in charge of French repre sentatives. French tribunals of justice deal with cases involving foreigners, and native courts with those of the Tunisians. The French army stationed here numbers about 20,000 men. The capital is Tunis. The budget for 1901 balanced at $8,000,000; for 1902. at $10.S00,000—including the large items connected with the State rail ways (nearly 50 per cent.). The other prom inent items are expenditures in connection with the debt. The debt was consolidated in 1884. and amounted to $27,768,740. In 1888 it was put in the form of a 31, per cent. loan guaranteed by France. The coinage, weights, and measures are for the most part French.