Population. – From 2,608,313 residents at the 1936 census the population had passed, at the 1956 census, to 3,783,324 residents, of which 3,441,696 are Tunisians, 86,149 non-Tunisian Muslims, 255,324 Europeans. The increase in the number of Europeans during the last thirty-five years was very significant in 1956 (they were 156,115 in 1921; 195,293 in 1931; 213,205 in 1936; 239,549 in 1946). But there was a strong decrease in them starting shortly after the last census, due to departures both towards France and towards Italy, following the changed political conditions of the territory (in 1956-58 the exodus of the French only was about 95,000 people and that of the Italians about 14,500). Of the Europeans surveyed in 1956, 180,440 were French, 66,919 Italians and 7974 of other nationalities. Hence the increase of the French between 1931 and 1956 (they were 91,427 in 1931) and a significant decrease of the Italians (91,178 in 1931), mainly due to naturalizations, which had contributed to increase the number of French (they were 13,458 in the period alone) 1947-55). A very significant increase was also found in the number of Algerians, passing from 40,816 in 1936 to 66,845 in 1956. As of 1 February 1956 (date of the census) the governorate of Tunis had 747,967 residents (of which 410,000 in the city), with a density therefore (about 5375 km2 of its surface) of 139 residents per km 2; in it lived two thirds of the Europeans surveyed at the time (119,500, of which 52,291 Italians, and of the latter 38,000 in the capital). As for the Jews, from over 71,500 in 1946, there was a decrease (it resulted in 57,796), also as a consequence of their emigration towards the State of Israel. Although in recent years there has been an increasing intensification of the influx of the population from the countryside to urban centers, nevertheless still today a strong percentage of it (63%) resides in scattered houses or in small nuclei and in non-urban centers. over 1000 residents; as a result of this urbanization process, the city of Tunis had increased in 1956 to 410,000 residents, and even to 542,000 with the suburbs, compared to 219,878 residents of 1936. Now the city and suburbs reach 675,000 residents Other important centers for demographic consistency are (1956 census), in addition to the governorate capitals (see table): Ferryville (now Menzel Bourguiba), 34,732; The Schooner, 26,323; Msaken, 26,142; Hammam-Lif, 22.060. For Tunisia 1997, please check aristmarketing.com.
History. – In the decade after the Second World War, Tunisia fervently resumed the struggle for independence, led by the leaders of the Neo-Destur, Ṣalāḥ ibn Yūsuf and Habīb Burghiba (Bū Rqība). He who was to be the last bey, sidi el-Amīn (who succeeded al-Munsif in 1943, deposed and exiled for his pro-German attitude) was by no means so alien to the liberation struggle, and prone to the wishes of France, as he then portrayed it as hostile propaganda; but undoubtedly he did not know or could not play the same direct and primary role that the local Sultan Mohammed V had in the analogous Moroccan movement.. Juin, J. de Hautecloque), in the vain task of obstructing the offensive of nationalism, conducted more and more efficiently by Burghiba. After the riots of January-February 1952, occasioned precisely by the arrest of him and other leaders,
The winner of the battle for Tunisian independence, Burghiba, was led by a popular plebiscite at the head of the national government, and shortly after by the Tunisian state itself (July 1957), which proclaimed itself a republic, declaring the Beilical dynasty fallen. Since then the fate of the small but geographically and politically important Mediterranean country has been in the hands of this man, one of the most intelligent and balanced leaders of the Arab Risorgimento, who was able to juggle the extreme positions of this (represented by Ṣalāḥ ibn Yūsuf, finished therefore escaped to Cairo) and a sincere will to collaborate with France, and with the West in general. The bloody continuation of the Algerian guerrilla warfare constituted the most difficult test for such a balance, since the Tunisia denying its solidarity with the Algerian brothers in struggle and at the same time not wishing to openly change itself into a military base of the rebels, thus exposing itself to French military reprisals. The eviction of the French armed forces from the Tunisia was the subject of long negotiations that also had dramatic moments, when in 1958 the French air force bombed Tunisian villages near the Algerian border, and for an instant it seemed imminent a test of strength with incalculable consequences; but Burghiba’s firmness and moderation at the same time avoided the worst, obtaining (June 1958) the total evacuation, except for the military base of Bizerte, granted for use by NATO, through France.
On the question of Bizerte, relations with France will remain particularly difficult, so much so that on 17 July 1961 Burghiba in a speech to the National Assembly did not hesitate to declare that the next two stages of the “decolonization” process of Tunisia were represented by the recovery of base of Bizerte and by border adjustments to the south. The next day, July 18, Tunisian forces attacked the besieged French troops in the base, but after three days of fierce fighting (with the intervention of the French Mediterranean team and an airlift) the Tunisians were driven back with heavy losses (over 600 dead and 1200 wounded) and the city of Bizerte itself was occupied. Shortly after, thanks to the mediation of the USA and in the presence of serious international tension,
The relations of the young Tunisian state with the other Arab states of the West, Morocco and Libya, are today excellent, sealed by special treaties of friendship. Stormy were those with Egypt, which has always been the refuge of the most extreme Arab irredentism, and has now risen with Giamāl ‛Abd an-Nāṣir to a position of primacy and claims of hegemony. The protection given to Ṣalāḥ ibn Yūsuf in exile was accompanied on the Egyptian side by a whole campaign of accusations against Burghiba, accused of defection from the Arab cause. Finally, the discovery of a plot fomented by Egypt against the Tunisian president in 1958 led to a diplomatic break between the two countries, and the absence of Tunisia from the most recent sessions (September 1959) of the Arab League.