The population in Tunisia is estimated at 11.4 million [1] with a growing urbanization rate reaching 69 percent.[2] The population of Tunisia is aging, whereby the proportion of the population below 30 years is 63.6 percent, down from 78.4 percent in 2000.[2] This is mainly due to a slightly decreasing fertility rate and considerable progress in the health sector in the last two decades, where life expectancy has reached 75.4 by 2016.


Following the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and ensuing political transition, and given the weak growth in the euro zone and rising protectionist measures—Tunisia’s main trading partner—, the economic outlook in Tunisia is challenging. Currently, the Tunisian economy is witnessing a sluggish recovery, with an improvement in growth reaching 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2018,[1] boosted by agriculture, tourism, and export-oriented manufacturing, particularly electrical and mechanical industries.


Tunisia continues to face a challenging but slightly improving macro-fiscal situation amid high imbalances and rising demands to increase civil servants’ wages and government spending. The budget deficit had increased up to 6.9 percent of GDP in 2013 up from 1.1% in 2010. Latest provisional estimates by the Tunisian Ministry of Finance indicate a deficit of 4.9% of GDP by end-2018. Over the same period, public debt continues to increase from a low of 41% of GDP in 2010 up to 71% by end-2018.[3]


The current account deficit exceeded 10 percent of GDP.[4] Trade of goods and services amount to 100 percent of Tunisia’s GDP; however, Tunisia’s trade with Arab countries is limited with only 10 percent of Tunisia’s total exports destined to Arab countries and only 8 percent of its imports originating from Arab countries.[4] Inflation reached 7.5 percent by end 2018 compared to 5.2 percent in the same period in 2017, driven by energy price increases, wage increases, and strong credit growth.[1]


Unemployment remains high at 15.4 percent and is even higher among women at 22.7 percent and youth, particularly among young university graduates whose unemployment rate reaches 38.7 percent for women.[1]


The official poverty rate in Tunisia was 15.2 percent in 2015, considerably lower than the rate of 20.5 percent in 2010.[5]


The gross enrollment rate for primary education levels at 104.7 percent, however, the rate for tertiary education is still as low as 32 percent equaling the Arab region’s average. Notably, the number of women accessing tertiary education in Tunisia exceeds the number of men with a Gender Parity Index of 1.7.[6]

This overview was last updated in January 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] National Institute of Statistics, Tunisia. 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ins.nat.tn [Accessed 20 January 2019].

[2]  Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wup/ [Accessed 20 January 2019].

[3] Ministry of Finance, Tunisia. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.finances.gov.tn/ [Accessed 20 January 2019].

[4] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2018. World Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/en/Data [Accessed 20 January 2019].

[5] The World Bank. 2018. Tunisia Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/tunisia/overview [Accessed 20 January 2019].

[6] United Nationals Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2019. UIS database. [ONLINE] Available at: http://uis.unesco.org/ [Accessed 20 January 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • Trade and economic integration have played significant roles in Tunisia’s economic development. In 2016, trade of goods and services reached 90% of Tunisia’s GDP.

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