Tunisian Independence Day is on 20 March to commemorate the day in 1956 when Tunisia left behind 75 years of French colonial rule.
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Tunisia’s strategic location in the centre of the north African coast had long made it a prized possession of empires. The Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and French all took their turns. The French invaded in 1881 and made Tunisia a French protectorate.
During the “occupation”, many French and Italian immigrants settled in Tunisia, but it remained overwhelmingly Arab. After World War II, Tunisia began to demand independence. In 1952, a guerrilla war broke out against the French, led by Habib Bourqeiba, who eventually became Tunisia’s first president. The war had succeeded by 1956 enough to persuade France to recognise Tunisian independence on 20 March of that year.
For Independence Day, the Tunisian government puts on a number of special luncheons where political speeches are made and the deeds and courage of the soldiers of independence are remembered. Many politicians also lay wreaths or flowers on the graves of those who gave their lives for independence.