People have inhabited the territory of Tunisia since ancient times. Tools of the Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic, artifacts of the Aterian (35th-10th millennium BC), Ibero-Maurusian (10th millennium BC) cultures, as well as the Capsian culture have been preserved. In the 4th-2nd millennium BC. Agriculture and animal husbandry were greatly developed, and fortified settlements arose. In the 12th century BC. Greeks appeared on the territory of Tunisia, and then the Phoenicians. The Punic language and eastern religious cults spread. Among the Phoenician cities founded in Tunisia, the leading place was taken by Carthage, which turned into a powerful slave-owning city-state. Check cancermatters for political system of Tunisia.
As a result of the Punic wars 264-146 BC. The Carthaginian state ceased to exist, Tunisia was included in the Roman possessions in Africa. During the reign of Rome (146 BC – 439 AD), the country underwent Romanization, but the bulk of the indigenous population retained the Punic language and Eastern beliefs. In the 1st century AD Christianity began to spread in Tunisia, replacing it in the 4th century. other cults.
In 439, with the support of the Berbers and rebellious peasants, the Vandals captured Carthage, putting an end to Roman rule in Tunisia. In 534, Tunisia came under the rule of Byzantium.
In the 7th century (647) Muslim Arab military units came to the territory of Tunisia. In 670 the Arabs founded Kairouan, which became the center of the spread of Islam in North Africa, in 698 they took Carthage, in 703 they crushed the last centers of resistance of the Byzantines and their Berber allies. The bulk of the indigenous population in con. 7 – beg. 8th century embraced Islam and Arabic culture.
In 800, Tunisia separated from the Abbasid Caliphate and became an independent state under the rule of the Arab Aghlabid dynasty (800-909), retaining, however, religious and cultural ties with the Caliphate. In 909, as a result of an uprising of Berber Shiites against the Aghlabids, the Ismaili state of the Fatimids was created in Tunisia. The tyranny of the Fatimids caused strong discontent, which was taken advantage of by the Berber Zirid dynasty, which in 1048 created an independent Sunni state with its center in Kairouan. In response to this, the Fatimids sent detachments of Arab nomadic tribes to Tunisia, whose invasion in 1050–52 ruined and devastated the country. The Zirid state collapsed.
In 1160, Tunisia became part of the Almohad state. In the process of its collapse, a large Tunisian state of the Hafsids (1229-1574) was formed. In 1270, the Hafsids repulsed the attack of the crusaders led by the French king Louis IX. At this time, Tunisia became the main power of the Arab West (Maghrib).
In 1535 Spain captured Tunisia. The struggle against the Spaniards was led by the emirs of nomadic tribes and marabouts, who received help from the Ottoman Empire.
In 1574 the Ottoman Turks expelled the Spaniards and incorporated Tunisia into the Ottoman Empire. However, by ser. 17th century Turkey retained only nominal power over Tunisia. In 1591, Tunisian deys began to rule Tunisia, then beys from the Muradid dynasty (1612–1702), who only formally recognized the sovereignty of the Turkish sultan. Beys from the Husseinid dynasty founded an independent Tunisian state in 1705. The Husseinids recognized the Turkish sultan only as the religious head of the Tunisian Muslims. In 1830, the first units of the regular Tunisian army were created. Under Bey Ahmed (ruled 1837–55), the army was strengthened, state plants and factories were founded, and secular educational institutions were opened.
On September 9, 1857, the Ahd al-Aman (Fundamental Pact) was published, extending the principles of the Tanzimat to Tunisia. In 1861, the first Tunisian Constitution (“Destur”) was adopted. Liberal reformers sought to combine the traditions of medieval Arab culture with the achievements of European civilization. However, reforms, especially the creation of a regular army and navy, the construction of palaces, as well as the theft of Bey dignitaries, exhausted the treasury. The Tunisian government resorted to foreign loans, to cover which new taxes were introduced.
When the government of Tunisia stopped paying debts on foreign loans, the financial bankruptcy of the country followed in 1867. In 1869, France, Great Britain and Italy, having created the International Financial Commission, established joint financial control over Tunisia. In 1878, at the Berlin Congress, France, for agreeing to the capture of Cyprus by Great Britain, achieved recognition of its “special rights” in Tunisia.
On April 12, 1881, the French government, taking advantage of the uprising of the Krumir tribe in Tunisia, which allegedly threatened French interests in Algeria, under the pretext of maintaining order, brought its troops into the territory of Tunisia and forced Bey Mohammed III es-Sadok to sign an agreement on the outskirts of Tunisia, Bardo. According to the Treaty of Bardos, the bey “agreed” to the occupation by the French troops of those points in Tunisia that they deem it necessary to occupy, and to establish the power of the French resident minister in the country; undertook not to conclude any international treaties without the consent of France. On June 8, 1883, the La Marse Convention was signed, legally formalizing the French protectorate over Tunisia.
Power passed to the French resident general. The Bey and the government retained only nominal power. A large number of Europeans settled in the country (19,000 in 1881, over 156,000 in 1921), and the best lands passed into their hands.
The first political uprisings of the population against foreign domination occurred in 1884. In 1896, the first nationalist societies and circles arose, which in 1907 united in the Evolutionist Party of the Young Tunisians, headed by Ali Bash-Khamba. Under the leadership of the Young Tunisians, anti-colonial demonstrations took place in the cities in 1906–12; in 1914–18 Bash-Khamba made several unsuccessful attempts to raise an uprising.
After World War I, the national liberation movement was led by the Islamophile conservative party Dustur (Destour, founded in 1920). The world economic crisis of 1929–33 sharply aggravated the situation in Tunisia. In 1934, Habib Bourguiba created the left-nationalist New Dustur Party (Socialist Dustur Party, SDP), which pushed the former Dustur leaders, who formed the Old Dustur party, out of leadership of the national liberation movement. In September 1934, New Dustur led anti-colonial protests. On April 9–11, 1938, the French colonial authorities banned New Dostur and arrested Bourguiba and other party leaders.