With one citizen out of ten living outside the country, Tunisia has a staggering emigration rate. With a full section dedicated to those expatriates in his government program “For Tomorrow’s Tunisia”, Tunisian President Zine El-Abedine Ben Ali has stressed the importance of this part of the Tunisian community as well as the mutual commitment involved.
According to the Tunisian daily La Presse, by the end of the year 2005, a total of 933,944 Tunisians were living outside the country’s borders. The most common destination was Europe, in which more than 83 percent of Tunisian expatriates currently reside, mainly disseminated in three countries. Thanks to French language instruction in Tunisian primary schools, France is at top of the list with 535,608 Tunisians, followed by Italy, which houses a community of more than 123,845 individuals and 70,349 in Germany.
Hence, on its quest to reinforce the connection between expatriates and their home country, the Tunisian government continuously works towards reaching multiple bilateral conventions and agreements with host authorities. In addition, special care is also dedicated to the fortification of the relationship with specialized engineers and the Tunisian elite abroad in order to benefit from their expertise and achieve a global sustainable development.
All these efforts have been bearing fruit from an economic standpoint, as currency transfers have been continuously growing for the last ten years reaching 1.822 million dinars in 2005. Moreover, expatriates also actively invested money in the Tunisian economy by financing 2,525 projects since 1987, and creating 21,172 jobs.
The Tunisian community is thus composed of a large number of expatriates who are considered full elements of the country's national entity who will have to play an important role in the future of Tunisia.