Demographics of Tunisia
Tunisia's population was estimated to be around 11.6 million in mid-2019. 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%).
|Average population||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1,000)||Crude death rate (per 1,000)||Natural change (per 1,000)||Population growth (annual %)||Fertility rates|
Current vital statistics
- Births from January to August of 2018 = 136,002
- Births from January to August of 2019 = 119,013
- Deaths from January to August of 2018 = 44,948
- Deaths from January to August of 2019 = 44,175
- Natural growth from January to August of 2018 = 91,054
- Natural growth from January to August of 2019 = 74,838
Structure of the population
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."
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Source: UN World Population Prospects
While most modern day Tunisians identify as Arabs, Tunisian ancestry is mainly derived from native 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 paternal haplogroups (Y-chromosome lineage) are from 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 ancestral component 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.
CIA World Factbook demographic statistics
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
- 2.17 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Population growth rate
- 0.95% (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.)
Net migration rate
- -0.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
- -1.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
- Urban population: 69.3% of total population (2019)
- Rate of urbanization: 1.53% annual rate of change (2015–20 est.)
- At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
- 0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
- 55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- Total: 11.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
- Male: 12.8 deaths/1,000 live births
- Female: 10.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
- Total population: 75.9 years (2018 est.)
- Male: 74.3 years
- Female: 77.6 years
- Arabic (official, one of the languages of commerce and education)
- Tunisian Arabic (Local variety of Arabic, everyday use)
- Berber (Tamazight)
- French (commerce and education)
age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.8%
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.
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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.