Demographics of Tunisia
Tunisia's population was estimated to be just under 10.8 million in 2013. In the generally youthful African continent Tunisia’s population is among the most mature; this is because the government has supported a successful family planning program that has reduced the population growth rate to just over 1% per annum, contributing to Tunisia's economic and social stability. The population of Tunisia is primarily of Berber ancestral origin (>60%).
Nearly all Tunisians, around 99 percent of the population are Muslim adherents. There is a Jewish population on the southern island of Djerba and Tunis. There also exists a small autochthonous group of Christian adherents.
- 1 Population
- 2 Population
- 3 Genetic
- 4 Other demographic statistics
- 4.1 Nationality
- 4.2 Population
- 4.3 Age structure
- 4.4 Median age
- 4.5 Birth rate
- 4.6 Death rate
- 4.7 Total fertility rate
- 4.8 Population growth rate
- 4.9 Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 4.10 Net migration rate
- 4.11 Dependency ratios
- 4.12 Demographic profile
- 4.13 Urbanization
- 4.14 Sex ratio
- 4.15 Infant mortality rate
- 4.16 Life expectancy at birth
- 4.17 Ethnic groups
- 4.18 Languages
- 4.19 Religions
- 4.20 Education expenditures
- 4.21 Literacy
- 4.22 School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- 4.23 Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
- 5 References
|Average population||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1,000)||Crude death rate (per 1,000)||Natural change (per 1,000)||Fertility rates|
|1993||8 572 200||24.0||5.7||18.3||3.12|
|1994||8 785 700||22.7||5.7||17.0||2.90|
|1995||8 957 500||20.8||5.8||15.0||2.67|
|1996||9 089 300||178 801||40 817||137 984||19.7||5.5||14.2||2.51|
|1997||9 214 900||173 757||42 426||131 331||18.9||5.6||13.2||2.38|
|1998||9 333 300||166 718||42 571||124 147||17.9||5.6||12.3||2.23|
|1999||9 455 900||160 169||54 400||105 769||16.9||5.7||11.2||2.09|
|2000||9 552 500||17.1||5.6||11.4||2.08|
|2001||9 650 600||163 300||53 300||110 000||16.9||5.6||11.4||2.05|
|2002||9 748 900||163 011||16.7||5.8||10.8||2.00|
|2003||9 839 800||168 022||17.1||6.1||11.0||2.06|
|2004||9 932 400||166 551||16.8||6.0||10.8||2.02|
|2005||10 029 000||170 999||58 673||112 326||17.1||5.9||11.2||2.04|
|2006||10 127 900||173 390||57 000||116 390||17.1||5.6||11.5||2.03|
|2007||10 225 100||177 503||56 741||120 762||17.4||5.5||11.8||2.04|
|2008||10 328 900||182 990||59 975||123 015||17.7||5.8||11.9||2.06|
|2009||10 439 600||184 282||59 499||124 783||17.7||5.7||12.0||2.05|
|2010||10 547 100||196 039||60 438||135 601||18.6||5.7||12.9||2.13|
|2011||10 673 800||201 120||63 258||137 862||18.8||5.9||12.9||2.15|
|2012||10 777 500||217 738||63 257||154 481||20.2||5.9||14.3||2.4|
|2013||10 886 500||222 962||61 730||161 232||20.5||5.7||14.8||2.40|
|2014||10 982 754||225 887||62 785||163 102||20.5||5.7||14.8||2.42|
|2015||11 154 370||222 530||65 743||156 787||19.9||5.9||14.0||2.30|
|2016||219 013||62 433||156 580||19.4||5.5||13.9||2.31|
|2017||209 236||67 447||141 789||18.2||6.0||12.2||2.21|
Structure of the population
Structure of the population (Census 23.IV.2014):
The population of Tunisia is primarily of Berber ancestral origin (>60%). Whilst the Ottoman influence has been particularly significant in forming the Turco-Tunisian community, other peoples have also migrated to Tunisia during different periods of time, including Sub-Saharan Africans, Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians (Punics), Jews, and French settlers; the Tunisian , by 1870 the distinction between the Arabic-speaking mass and the Turkish elite had blurred and today the overwhelming majority, of about 98%, simply identify themselves collectively as Arabs. There is also a small purely Berber (1% at most) population located in the Dahar mountains and on the island of Djerba in the south-east and in the Khroumire mountainous region in the north-west.
From the late 19th century to after World War II, Tunisia was home to large populations of French and Italians (255,000 Europeans in 1956), although nearly all of them, along with the Jewish population, left after Tunisia became independent; the history of the Jews in Tunisia goes back some 2,000 years. In 1948 the Jewish population was an estimated 105,000, but by 2013 only about 900 remained.
The first people known to history in what is now Tunisia were the Berbers. Numerous civilizations and peoples have invaded, migrated to, or have been assimilated into the population over the millennia, with influences of population from Phoenicians/Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Spaniards, Ottoman Turks and Janissaries, and French. There was a continuing inflow of nomadic Arab tribes from Arabia.
After the Reconquista and expulsion of non-Christians and Moriscos from Spain, many Spanish Muslims and Jews also arrived. According to Matthew Carr, "As many as eighty thousand Moriscos settled in Tunisia, most of them in and around the capital, Tunis, which still contains a quarter known as Zuqaq al-Andalus, or Andalusia Alley."
|Period||Life expectancy in
|Period||Life expectancy in|
Source: UN World Population Prospects
While the many modern Tunisians identify themselves as Arab, they are predominantly genetically descended from Berber groups, with substantial Phoenician/Punic, Arab and Western European input. Tunisians are also descended, to a much lesser extent, from other African, Middle Eastern and/or European peoples. In sum, a little less than 20 percent of their genetic material (Y-chromosome analysis) comes from the present day Levant, Arabia, Europe or West Africa.
"In fact, the Tunisian genetic distances to European samples are smaller than those to North African groups. (...) This could be explained by the history of the Tunisian population, reflecting the influence of the ancient Punic settlers of Carthage followed, among others, by Roman, Byzantine, Arab and French occupations, according to historical records. Notwithstanding, other explanations cannot be discarded, such as the relative heterogeneity within current Tunisian populations, and/or the limited sub-Saharan genetic influence in this region as compared with other North African areas, without excluding the possibility of the genetic drift, whose effect might be particularly amplified on the X chromosome.", This suggests a fairly significant Middle Eastern and European input to Tunisian genetics compared to other neighbouring populations.
However, later research has suggested instead that Tunisians exhibit a mostly indigenous North African genetic make up similar to other Northwest African populations; characterized by a high amount of native Northwest African genes, but with higher Middle Eastern input than in Algeria or Morocco.
Other demographic statistics
The following demographic statistics of Tunisia in 2019 are from the World Population Review.
- One birth every 3 minutes
- One death every 7 minutes
- One net migrant every 131 minutes
- Net gain of one person every 4 minutes
- 11,516,189 (July 2018 est.)
- 0-14 years: 25.25% (male 1,502,655 /female 1,405,310)
- 15-24 years: 13.53% (male 787,178 /female 770,929)
- 25-54 years: 43.25% (male 2,426,011 /female 2,554,253)
- 55-64 years: 9.75% (male 560,233 /female 562,436)
- 65 years and over: 8.22% (male 448,784 /female 498,400) (2018 est.)
- 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,274,348/female 1,193,131)
- 15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,638,014/female 3,728,294)
- 65 years and over: 7.5% (male 390,055/female 405,344) (2011 est.)
- 0–14 years: 22.2% (male 1,213,664/female 1,137,084)
- 15–64 years: 70.5% (male 3,759,955/female 3,704,677)
- 65 years and over: 7.3% (male 358,447/female 415,198) (2010 est.)
- total: 32 years. Country comparison to the world: 106th
- male: 31.3 years
- female: 32.5 years (2018 est.)
- 17.4 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 103rd
- 6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 148th
Total fertility rate
- 2.17 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 96th
Population growth rate
- 0.95% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 116th
Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 62.5% (2011/12)
Net migration rate
- -1.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 154th
- -1.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
- -0.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
- total dependency ratio: 45.6 (2015 est.)
- youth dependency ratio: 34.5 (2015 est.)
- elderly dependency ratio: 11.1 (2015 est.)
- potential support ratio: 9 (2015 est.)
The Tunisian Government took steps in the 1960s to decrease population growth and gender inequality in order to improve socioeconomic development. Through its introduction of a national family planning program (the first in Africa) and by raising the legal age of marriage, Tunisia rapidly reduced its total fertility rate from about 7 children per woman in 1960 to 2 today. Unlike many of its North African and Middle Eastern neighbors, Tunisia will soon be shifting from being a youth-bulge country to having a transitional age structure, characterized by lower fertility and mortality rates, a slower population growth rate, a rising median age, and a longer average life expectancy.
Currently, the sizable young working-age population is straining Tunisia’s labor market and education and health care systems. Persistent high unemployment among Tunisia’s growing workforce, particularly its increasing number of university graduates and women, was a key factor in the uprisings that led to the overthrow of the BEN ALI regime in 2011. In the near term, Tunisia’s large number of jobless young, working-age adults; deficiencies in primary and secondary education; and the ongoing lack of job creation and skills mismatches could contribute to future unrest. In the longer term, a sustained low fertility rate will shrink future youth cohorts and alleviate demographic pressure on Tunisia’s labor market, but employment and education hurdles will still need to be addressed.
Tunisia has a history of labor emigration. In the 1960s, workers migrated to European countries to escape poor economic conditions and to fill Europe’s need for low-skilled labor in construction and manufacturing; the Tunisian Government signed bilateral labor agreements with France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and the Netherlands, with the expectation that Tunisian workers would eventually return home. At the same time, growing numbers of Tunisians headed to Libya, often illegally, to work in the expanding oil industry. In the mid-1970s, with European countries beginning to restrict immigration and Tunisian-Libyan tensions brewing, Tunisian economic migrants turned toward the Gulf countries. After mass expulsions from Libya in 1983, Tunisian migrants increasingly sought family reunification in Europe or moved illegally to southern Europe, while Tunisia itself developed into a transit point for sub-Saharan migrants heading to Europe.
- urban population: 68.9% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 1.53% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
- urban population: 67% of total population (2010)
- rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
- at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 16.07 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 0.897 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.976 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.989 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- total: 11.7 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 12.8 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 10.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 75.9 years
- male: 74.3 years
- female: 77.6 years (2018 est.)
- total population: 75.24 years
- male: 73.2 years
- female: 77.42 years (2012 est.)
- Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce)
- Berber (Tamazight)
- French (commerce)
Muslim (official; Sunni) 99.1%, other (includes Christian, Jewish, Shia Muslim, and Baha'i) 1%
- 6.6% of GDP (2015) Country comparison to the world: 22nd
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 81.8%
- male: 89.6%
- female: 74.2% (2015 est.)
The literacy rate among the Tunisian population increased greatly after its independence from France. According to the 1996 census data, the literacy rate of the last generation of Tunisian men educated under the French rule (those born 1945-49) was less than 65%. For the first generation educated after independence (born 1950-1954), literacy in Arabic among males had increased to nearly 80%. (Sixty-two percent were also literate in French and 15 percent literate in English). Among the youngest generation included in the census (those born 1980-1984), 96.6% were literate in Arabic.
Among Tunisian women, the increase in literacy was even greater; the literacy rate among the last generation of women educated under the French was less than 30%. In the first generation educated after independence, this increased to just over 40%. For the youngest generation of women cited (born 1980-1984), literacy in Arabic had increased to slightly over 90%; over 70% of women were also literate in French.
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
- total: 15 years
- male: 14 years NA
- female: 16 years NA (2016)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
- total: 34.7%
- male: 33.4%
- female: 37.7% (2013 est.)
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Tunisians did not show a significant level of differentiation with northern populations as mentioned by others
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- The children born in the early 1980s had not yet begun English instruction by the time of the 1996 census, so no literacy rate in English is given. However, the children born between 1970-74 (who had completed their education) had a literacy in English of 20%. It's highly likely that the younger generation's literacy in English was even higher at the conclusion of their schooling. Walters 86.