In 2015, Tunisia was responsible for the second highest growth –after Iran- in defence expenditure, in the MENA region. More specifically, this change was reflected in the increased 2.2% of the GDP, allocated as the defence budget, equal to about $1.1 billion (See chart below). This amount, was more than double compared to that of ten years ago (2005), reflecting the ‘fragile’ diplomatic environment created by its neighbouring countries.


Located in the northern part of Africa and at a distance of only 140km away from Europe, the Republic of Tunisia (Tunisia), lies in the middle of the Mediterranean basin (the northeast part of the country) and borders with Algeria to the west and Libya to the southeast. Tunisia’s population is estimated to be over 11 million (2015), with almost 1/10 of its citizens, living in the capital Tunis – on the northeast coastline.

Having been for many years, the object of rivalry between French and Italian interests, Tunisia was recognised as an independent state in 1956. After many years of political and social instability, as a result of high unemployment, corruption, widespread poverty, and high food prices, in 2010, street riots erupted, which led to hundreds of deaths and the president fleeing the country. Since 2011 -when the revival of the Arab spring sparked in Tunisia- onwards, the country’s democratic transition has been remarkable.

Despite the remaining inequalities, reflected in the 2013 Gini coefficient* value for Tunisia being 0.36, as well as its Human Development Index (HDI) - an indicator of inequality in the distribution of human development across the population of a country -, which ranked 96th worldwide for 2014, at 0.721, Tunisia stood above the average 0.686 value of the Arab states (See chart below).

However, it should not be omitted to mention that despite Tunisia’s progress on fiscal and banking reforms in a really short time, unemployment and external imbalances remain high, while social tensions are still present, implying the need for further reforms.

* Despite rising incomes in the world, inequalities in income, wealth and opportunities have risen as well. The Gini coefficient indicator, measures the inequality, expressed as a value between 0 (absolute equality) and 1 (absolute inequality).