Tunisia was once a major player in the Mediterranean region, thanks to its location in the center of North Africa, close to vital shipping lanes.
French colonial rule ended in 1956 and Tunisia was led for three decades by Habib Bourguiba, who advanced secular ideas, the most important of which was the emancipation of women.
Mass protests dethroned President Ben Ali in 2011, in the first of a series of popular uprisings in the region, but President Kais Saied sought to re-impose aspects of authoritarian rule in 2022.
Chairman: Kais Saied
Retired law professor Kais Saied won a landslide victory over media mogul Nabil Karoui in the October 2019 presidential election.
Mr Saied, who was 61 when elected, campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and appealed directly to young voters.
In 2022, he implemented a series of measures to strengthen the power of the presidency at the expense of parliament and the judiciary.
The Tunisian media now enjoys more freedom than before the 2011 popular uprising.
Social media played a key role in the uprising.
Some key dates in Tunisia’s modern history:
1881 – French troops occupy Tunis and expel Ottoman troops.
1956 – Tunisia becomes independent with Habib Bourguiba as prime minister.
2011 – Mass protests drive President Ben Ali into exile and inspire other Arab Spring uprisings.
2022 – President Kais Saied imposes presidential rule and thereby undermines the authority of parliament.