Counter of a café in Tunisia

Social situation Unequal distribution of wealth and high levels of unemployment

The living conditions of Tunisians have measurably improved in the last few decades. Almost the entire population has access to safe drinking water and electricity, and there is now a large middle class.

On the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), Tunisia is ranked 91st out of 189 states – behind Algeria (at 82), but significantly ahead of Egypt (at 116) and Morocco (at 121).

These developments notwithstanding, the wealth that has been achieved so far is unevenly distributed. Inland regions, in particular, are not yet benefiting sufficiently from the country's economic development. The government has therefore produced an ambitious programme, which is meant to foster primarily private investment in rural areas.

One of Tunisia's biggest problems is the high level of unemployment. According to official figures, unemployment stands at around 15 per cent (22 per cent for women, almost 35 per cent for 15- to 24-year-olds, reaching up to 40 per cent in some inland regions. Even among young people with a university degree roughly 30 per cent are without a job. Tunisia's annual economic growth is not nearly strong enough to ease the pressures on the labour market.

Another reason for discontent is the marked drop in purchasing power. The Tunisian dinar has seen a massive loss in value in recent years while living costs have gone up, because energy and water prices, for instance, have increased. People are expressing their dissatisfaction with frequent protests and strikes.