On 15 October, Tunisia marks “Evacuation Day”, a public holiday commemorating the final evacuation of the last French forces from Bizerte, Tunisia, on 15 October, 1963.
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Like the rest of North Africa, Tunisia came under European domination during the Colonial Era. In 1881, Tunisia fell under French control, and it did not become an independent nation until 1956. However, France retained control over the city of Bizerte due to its strategic importance along the Mediterranean Coast.
In 1961, Tunisia decided to blockade and besiege the city of Bizerte to rid it of French forces and to bring it back under their control. This triggered a military retaliation by France. Tunisia soon lost the nearby city of Menzel Bourguiba to France as well. But France’s aggressive actions earned it the condemnation of the UN Security Council, and finally, France relented and withdrew all of its troops from Tunisia on 15 October, 1963.
Today, Evacuation Day is a national holiday celebrated all over Tunisia, but the main celebration takes place in the city of Bizerte and is overseen by Tunisia’s president.