Tunisia is a republic and an independent state since 1956. The first constitution was accepted in 1959 which puts legislative power in the Chamber of Deputies with 136 members. The chamber serves for five-year terms. In fact, the executive power is given to the president. The president is assisted by a cabinet which is assigned by the president and headed by a prime minister.
A great majority of people are Muslims. There is a small minority of Roman Catholic French community and nearly 10,000 Sephardic Jews living in Tunisia today.
About half of the population live in urban areas and the rest in rural areas. The population of Tunisia is around 8.5 million. The biggest city and the capital of the country is Tunis. Sfax, Ariana, Bizerte, Gabes and Sousse are the other important cities of the country.
Today, over a third of the Tunisia's working population is still employed in the primary sectors (which represents 18% of Gross National Product). Agriculture is concentrated mainly in the rich traditional regions of the north-east (the Medjerda valley) and in the Sahelian region (from Sousse to Sfax). The southern part of the country, where the Sahara begins, is semi-desert and therefore remains the domain of goat and dromedary herding. A small part of this Saharan region is constitutedby oases, where immense palm groves and small market gardens have been developed.
Tunisia's tertiary sector (services) is booming and is both the country's major employer (36% of working population are involved in this sector), and the country's major producer (accounting for over 50% of the Gross National Product).
The Tunisian have not forgotten their ancestors, the Phoenician and then Carthaginian trader-shipowners, and the rich carvanners who developed trans-Saharan trade between Black Africa and the Mediterranean basin. Nowadays, a great many Tunisians survive on national and international commerce and on the transport industry (roads, railways, sea and air travel). Indeed, in terms of Gross Domestic Product, trade and transportation currently represent four times as much as hydrocarbures and twice as much as fishing and agriculture.