Tunisia, located in central North Africa between Algeria and Libya, lies along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea close to vital shipping routes for import and export. Due to its natural resources and agricultural capabilities, Tunisia has a diverse economy. In addition to tourism and agriculture, Tunisia has major industries that include manufactured goods and mining, which together account for over 50 percent of the country’s exports.
According to the United Nations Human Development Report, Tunisia is ranked number 90 out of 187 countries with comparable data. The country’s Human Development Index rose by 1.2% annually between 1980 and 2013, from 0.484 to 0.721 today. Compared to other Arab states with an average of 0.682, Tunisia is above the regional norm. Despite this, high unemployment rates and poor living conditions are among the most prominent issues faced by the country.
Tunisia has undergone a series of significant changes following the revolution of January 2011, which was fueled by high unemployment rates, food inflation and corruption, among other grievances. Tunisia’s political transition gained momentum in early 2014, with the resolution of a political deadlock and the adoption of a new Constitution. Legislative and presidential elections were held between October and December, a successful milestone in the democratic transition. The strategic direction that the new government embarked upon focuses on restoring and maintaining security, while laying the groundwork for a stronger economic recovery.
Following the Tunisian government overthrow in January 2011, a trend of civil protests has swept through the region. Civil protests in neighbouring Libya were countered by harsh military reprisals causing a massive influx of Libyan and third country refugees into southern Tunisia, which caused great stress in the 2011 – 2012 period.