PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am

Better life

Just recently, Tunisia was in the news a lot. People there were so angry at being poor, and food costing so much, that they rioted. As a result, the country's leader ran away. The people hope a new government will bring them a better life. Here are some interesting things about Tunisia:


Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is part of a region in North Africa known as the Maghreb. In the north are the Atlas mountains. These are fertile mountains that stretch across three nations. They separate Africa from the Mediterranean Sea. In the south of Tunisia is the Sahara desert.


Tunisia has a long, violent history. People were farming in the region around 4,000BC. Tunisia is home to the ancient city of Carthage. The famous general Hannibal led his legendary attack of the Roman empire from Carthage.

The Romans conquered Carthage and the Arabs followed around the 7th century. Tunisia also came under the rule of the Ottoman empire and was colonised by the French in the 19th century.

The country became a vital battleground during the second world war, when Britain's Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery defeated Germany's Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The victory was an important turning point for the Allies.

Tunisia gained independence from France in 1957. Its first president was Habib Bourguiba. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali took over in 1987 but fled this year.


Most people in Tunisia are Arabs or Arabized Berbers. The Berbers are the original people of North Africa. Some Berbers still speak their own language, Shelha. The state religion is Islam.

New revolution

In December last year, a young farmer set himself on fire to protest against conditions in Tunisia. His act of immolation sparked protests that rocked the nation and the region.

Demonstrators blamed high food prices, unemployment, corruption, bad living conditions and no freedom of speech for their anger. Ben Ali fled on January 15. The uprising affected other regional countries, notably Egypt, where similar protests were held.

The flag

Tunisia's flag is red with a white circle in the centre. A red crescent and a red five-pointed star are in the circle. The flag was first flown in 1831. The crescent and star show Tunisia was part of the Turkish empire. People argue about the symbolism of the colour red. Some say it signifies the blood of people killed by the Turks. But others note Tunisia invited the Turks to liberate the country from the Spanish.

Now do this:

1 Who was Tunisia's first president?

a. Ben Ali

b. Erwin Rommel

c. Habib Bourguiba

2 Which general attacked the Roman empire?

a. Hannibal

b. Erwin Rommel

c. Bernard Montgomery

3 The area of North Africa where

Tunisia is situated is known as ...

a. the Sahara.

b. the Maghreb.

c. the Mediterranean.


1. c, 2. a, 3. b