located IN north Africa between Algeria and Libya, the Republic of Tunisia has a land area of 63,170 sq. mi. (163,610 sq. km.), with a population of 10,327,000 (2006 est.) and a population density of 161 people per sq. mi. (62 people per sq. km.). In spite of its having an arid climate, 19 percent of the land in Tunisia is arable, with 13 percent under permanent cultivation. There is also an additional 20 percent used as meadows or pasture, mainly for the raising of sheep, goats, and cattle. Only 4 percent of the country is forested.
Tunisia has its own supplies of crude oil and natural gas, and as a result, 99 percent of the country's electricity generation comes from the use of fossil fuels, with 1 percent coming from hydropower. In terms of its per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions, they have risen from 1.6 metric tons per person in 1990 to 2.29 metric tons in 2004. Some 65 percent of Tunisia's carbon dioxide emissions come from liquid fuels, with 23 percent coming from gaseous fuels and 10 percent from the manufacture of cement. Heavy use of air conditioning, especially in the economically important tourist sector, results in electricity production making up 39 percent of the country's carbon dioxide emissions, with 25 percent coming from transportation, 24 percent from manufacturing and construction, and 11 percent from residential use.
The effect of global warming and climate change on Tunisia has seen the alienation of some arable land, with the rising temperature affecting the level of crop production. It has also led to gradual shortages of water in some inland parts of the country and in the increasing use of desalination, which in turn leads to increases in the amount of electricity that needs to be generated. The Tunisian government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. It accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on January 22, 2003, with it entering into force on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALso: Climate Change, Effects; Drought.
BiBLioGRAPHY. Jamie Carstair, "A Room With no View" Geographical (v.73/3, March 2001); Jennifer Hill and
Wendy Woodland, "Contrasting Water Management Techniques in Tunisia: Towards Sustainable Agricultural Use," Geographical Journal (v.169/4, December 2003); World Resources Institute, "Tunisia—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).
Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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