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History[edit | edit source]
That portion of North Africa which eventually became Tunisia has a very ancient history. The earliest inhabitants appear to have been a tribe known as Berbers. The coastal areas of Tunisia were controlled by the Phoenicians beginning about 1000 B.C. They established a large colony at Carthage, not far from present day Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Subsequently, the Romans destroyed Carthage, after a series of protracted wars, and annexed the entire area.
During the Roman period, Christianity was introduced into North Africa. In the fifth century A.D., the Germanic tribe known as the Vandals invaded North Africa, followed subsequently by the Byzantines.
In the early seventh century A.D., Arabs, who had converted to Islam, conquered most of North Africa. The Berbers, who lived mostly in the areas behind the coasts, were eventually converted to Islam, and a mixed population of Arabs and Berbers lived in what would later become Tunisia. At first, the Arabs ruled Tunisia, but eventually the Berbers were able to regain a great deal of political power.
During the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Turks invaded North Africa and made Tunisia into a virtually independent state subject only to nominal control. The Tunisians were permitted to be governed by their own rulers, the Beys.
In 1881, France established a protectorate over Tunisia, which made it into a quasi-colony. The French permitted the continuation of political rule by the Beys, but exercised strong economic and political control over the country.
Independence movements developed gradually after World War II. In 1956, France agreed to withdraw its protectorate, and Tunisia became independent, establishing a democratic republic.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1534 - The first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place but, it wasn't until the final Ottoman reconquest of Tunis from Spain that the Ottomans permanently acquired the former Hafsid Tunisia
1881 - The French invaded with an army and forced the Bey to agree to the terms of the Treaty of Bardo that made Tunisia a French protectorate, over the objections of Italy
1906 - 1945 French colonists grew from 34,000 in 1906 to 144,000 in 1945
1910 - There were 105,000 Italians in Tunisia
1956 - Tunisia achieved independence from France
2011 - Protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades and resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces