Tunisia has a population which at the 1931 census turned out to be 2,410,692 residents, of which 2,215,399 indigenous and 195,293 Europeans. The indigenous population, as in all of Mediterranean Africa, is made up of Berber elements and Arab elements. The Berbers would represent the descendants of the ancient Libyan people settled in the region since the time of our first acquaintances. The Arabs are the descendants, both of more ancient immigrations, and of those who came with the Islamic conquest and the Hilalian invasions. The centuries-old coexistence and the fact that the political-religious conquest unites them in the language and faith of Islam has given rise to a large mixture, so it is now difficult to distinguish the Berbers from the Arabs and from the mixed ones. However, the Krumiri are considered as more or less pure Berbers, who live in the border mountain region to which they gave their name, the Matmata who inhabit the southern region of the Ksour Mountains, the residents of the Kerkenna Islands and those of Djerba. But as a whole, the people of Tunisia are to be considered Arab-Berber speaking Arabic and professing the religion of Islam. Among the indigenous are also considered, in their great majority, the Jews, who in number of 56,242 are settled in Tunisia and who descend from immigrants after the destruction of Jerusalem or after the expulsion from Spain. Among the Europeans, the statistics of 1931 gave 91,427 French subjects, 91,178 Italians, 8643 Maltese and 4045 of other nationalities (Spaniards, Greeks, etc.). For Tunisia 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
For the first time in this census the French exceeded the Italians by just 249 units, previously always in the majority.
Without going back to distant times in which the Tunisian population certainly had to be more numerous, as evidenced by the remains of disappeared cities and large irrigation works that had to give agricultural production a wider development, and limiting ourselves to considering the regency as it was at the date of French occupation (1881), it should be noted that from approximate calculations it was estimated at about 2 million residents, of which perhaps 10,000 were Europeans, almost exclusively Italians. Since then the population certainly had to increase; however the first regular census, which was carried out in 1911, gave only 1,939,087 residents The increase in the following twenty years was therefore 471,605 residents, With an average annual increase of 11.8 ‰, slightly higher than that which occurred in the same period in Italy (8.4 ‰). This increase is to be considered due only to the surplus of births over the dead, with the birth rate still high (30 ‰) and the mortality rate relatively low (16.8 ‰). The density remains low (17 residents per sq. Km), considerably lower than that of the province of Nuoro which has the lowest average of the kingdom of Italy (29). However, it must be considered that approximately 1/3 of the area of Tunisia is made up of desert and unproductive soils. Excluding the military territories of the south, in which the density is just 3 residents per sq. km, the density of Tunisia would rise to 27, that is, slightly lower than that of the province of Nuoro. Nor is it to be assumed that the population of Tunisia can significantly increase, since even in Tunisia proper, excluding the military territories of the south, the area of the truly arable land is limited, considerable extension having the rocky shelves that do not lend themselves to irrigation and therefore suitable only for grazing or for collecting the alpha that grows spontaneously. From the time the French protectorate was established there, Tunisia has been able to welcome a certain immigration current which, as we have seen, has led the European contingent to constitute just under a tenth of the total population. Two elements almost exclusively contributed to it: French and Italian. The French population, which, before the occupation, was a few hundred residents, grew rapidly, as was natural, so much so that it had risen to 18,000 individuals after a decade, to 24,205 in 1901, to 46,046 in 1911, to 54,476 in 1921 to reach, as we have seen, the figure of 91,427 in 1931. But this increase, as immigration is very low, in addition to survivals it is due to the legislative provisions that require the automatic acquisition of citizenship. French subjects born in France represent just 1/3 of the total. As for the conditions and occupations, it should be noted that the great generality is given by officials and in any case employed in the public administration, public service workers, traders, military families, while the number of farmers. The facilities offered to the French for the concession of lands obtained little result, as the government of the protectorate preferred the system of large concessions. The Italian colony, established before 1870 by descendants of ancient captured slaves, by political patients, by Jews of the upper classes, that in order to escape the conditions of inferiority in which they were held they had first been able to obtain the protection, then the subjection of the ancient Italian states, constituted in 1871 a small nucleus of just 6000 national professionals and traders who enjoyed a high prestige in the country. Later, called by the need for workers and manpower required by public works and especially by the fortifications that the bey had erected there, an immigrant current of masons, manuals, excavators came to them, almost exclusively from Sicily, which led to over 10,000 the number of Italians established in the regency at the date of the French occupation (1881). The institution of the protectorate and the development of public works it required accentuated this proletarian immigration movement, always coming almost exclusively from Sicily and later, with the development of the mining industry, also from Sardinia. Thus we went from 11,501 Italians counted in 1881 to 21,016 in 1891, to 71,600 in 1901, to 88,062 in 1911, to descend (due to repatriations caused by the world war) to 84,799 in 1921 and go back to 91,178 in 1931. The Italian colony in the its present constitution shows a notable difference from what it was before the French occupation because, despite the fact that the old bourgeois nucleus has been maintained and strengthened, the worker element, numerically at least, prevails today. The immigrants of the last decades gathered particularly in the rural class; although called to perform manual labor in masonry and road construction, finding in the country where favorable conditions of soil and climate had been established, recalled to the ancient love of the land, they returned to farmers and especially winegrowers. However their number, although considerably higher than that of the French, remains very limited (4397). The majority of the Italian population in Tunisia is and still remains a citizen, counting, in addition to the bourgeois classes, workers of various workers, conductors and deliverers of tramways and even horticulturalists in the immediate vicinity of urban centers. Of the Italians surveyed in 1931, over 1/3 (37,707) were born in Italy and of these 32,056 were Sicilians (including those of Pantelleria), 2979 were Sardinians and the rest of the continental provinces of the kingdom. Linked to the motherland with a strong national feeling, kept awake and enlivened by the numerous educational, cultural, welfare and sports institutions, by the continuity of relations, by the periodic stays offered by the state to student youth, the Italian colony of Tunisia is not threatened with absorption. Reluctant to apply for the citizenship of the dominating power, he managed to escape the consequences of automatic purchase until now with the Franco-Italian convention of 1896, denounced in 1918, but tacitly renewed until the agreements of January 1935, for which it was extended to 1965 is the date of application for Italians of the law of 1921, which automatically and obligatorily confers French citizenship to those born in Tunisia.