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Tunisia’s geographic and historical legacy helped prepare it for the shocks it received in the 19th century as a land caught between an expanding Europe and a declining Ottoman Empire.
Yet, Tunisia proved to be as vulnerable economically as it was militarily.
That name, in turn, comes from the Roman word for Africa and the name also given by the Romans to their first African colony following the Punic Wars against the Carthaginians in 264–146 .
Although the Arabs initially unified North Africa, by 1230 a separate Tunisian dynasty had been established by the Ḥafṣids.
He did, in 1861, proclaim the first constitution () in the Arabic-speaking world, but this step toward representative government was cut short by runaway debt, a problem exacerbated by the government’s practice of securing loans from European bankers at exorbitant rates.
From that time until the establishment of the French protectorate in 1881, Tunisian rulers had to placate the larger powers while working to strengthen the state from within.Ḥusayn Bey even accepted the idea that Tunisian princes would rule the cities of Constantine and Oran.The scheme, however, had no chance of success and was soon abandoned.French invasion of Algiers, Tunisia was officially a province of the Ottoman Empire but in reality was an autonomous state.Because the principal military threat had long come from neighbouring Algeria, the reigning bey of Tunisia, Ḥusayn, cautiously went along with assurances from the French that they had no intention of colonizing Tunisia.
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