An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

4. Tunisia and Libya

Tunisia became independent in 1956 after having been a French protectorate since 1881. A Moslem principality had long existed near the site of ancient Carthage (E); and Tunisia, although its mainly Arab-Berber inhabitants are of much the same stocks as the Algerians, has its own individual character, marked by close contact with Europe across the Mediterranean. Its population of 4 million included in 1955 over 400,000 Europeans, mostly French but including 70,000 Italians and 60,000 Jews; but many of these have left.

Tunisia's struggle for independence was led by the Neo-Destour party, founded in 1934 by Habib Bourguiba, who in 1957 deposed the traditional ruler, the Bey, and became president of the new republic. After 1956 French forces remained at the naval base of Bizerta and elsewhere; but relations were strained by the Algerian war, particularly after the French bombed Sakiet, a border village, in 1958, in retaliation for Tunisian support for the Algerian rebels (3). The French put electrified and barbed wire along the border, but the rebels still used Tunisian supply routes, and their government-in- exile made its home in Tunis.

Bourguiba sought to avoid a complete break with France. Relations with Morocco worsened in 1960 when Tunisia joined France in asking membership of the United Nations for Mauritania, which Morocco claims (2, 14). But in 1961 there was fighting between French and Tunisians around Bizerta, which France had still not evacuated despite repeated demands.

Only about 1 per cent. of Libya is cultivable. The Arab-Berber population of about 1,200,000, although partly nomadic, is mainly in three widely separated areas-800,000 and 300,000 in the two well- watered coastal strips of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and 60,000 in the Fezzan oases. The coastal strips are nowhere broader than 50 miles, and are separated by 300 miles where the desert comes down to the sea.

Italy seized Libya from Turkey in 1911 and attempted colonization; there are still 50,000 Italians in Tripolitania. In the second world war, the British defeat of the Italians and Germans in the 1940-3 desert campaign was supported by many Libyans, particularly in Cyrenaica, where the Senussi sect is dominant. (Founded in 1843, this was originally a fanatical Moslem sect which produced the Mahdist revolt (10). King Idris of Libya is the grandson of the founder). Since the independence granted to Libya under the United Nations agreement in 1951, a federal government has existed. It was

-54-

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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