Migration patterns

The city of Tunis plays a significant role in national, internal, and external dynamics of migration processes.

The city has been losing its appeal to Tunisians: its internal migration balance is now negative (62,642 arrivals in 2009 – 2014 compared to 91,791 departures) and departures have been observed across all delegations. The other governorates that are also part of the metropolis of Tunis (Ariana, Ben Arous and La Manouba) seem to have attracted internal mobility that follows a downtown periphery structure. In addition to the relocation of economic activities outside Tunis over the 1990s and 2000s, the choice place of residence follows a pattern of peripheralization.

In terms of international migration, the Tunis governorate and the city of Tunis host, respectively, 18% and 40% of all immigrants on the Tunisian territory. Over the 2009 – 2014 period, external inflows (from immigrants and returning Tunisians) largely settled in the Tunis governorate (25.7%) and, more widely, in Tunis metropolitan area (48%).

At the city level, data from the 2014 Population and Housing census (RGPH) on emigrants and immigrants in each delegation (2009 – 2014) show that there is a positive external migration balance across the 15 delegations in the governorate. In contrast to internal dynamics of migration processes, Tunis attracted more immigrants over this period and had less people trying to emigrate. The 4, 791 arrivals migrated to the capital city primarily to find employment, support their families or to study. The Bureau for immigration and foreign labour granted close to 45% of labour certificates and more than 38% employment contracts in the city of Tunis between 2014 and 2016, underscoring the capital city’s predominant position in the migration phenomenon in Tunisia.

Migrant population

The total number of immigrants in the city of Tunis is not known. At national level, the 2014 census revealed foreign residents originate primarily from Algeria, Libya, Morocco, France and Italy. The 2014 census also provided information on the number of immigrants arriving in the city of Tunis across the 2009 – 2014 period.

The census lists 4,791 immigrants, which represents 33% of foreign arrivals in Tunisia over this period (14,350 people). These immigrants came mainly from Libya, France, and sub - Saharan Africa. This was a predominantly male migration (57% of men compared to 43% of women). They settled mainly in affluent commuter neighbourhoods such as El Menzah, Cité El Khadhra, and Bab Bhar located in the city.

While data is unavailable at the local level, available national data reports that 40% of the immigrants over this period were between 20 and 35 years old. They were highly educated (more than 40% had a higher education level) and only 3% had not received any educational instruction (as compared to 19% of Tunisians). The activity rate of immigrants at the national level was about 36% over this period, and the unemployment rate stood at 6% (compared to close to 15% for Tunisians). In 2014, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which records the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the city noted that Tunis was host to 116 refugees and 427 asylum seekers (48% of the country’s total) the majority of whom were from Syria and Ivory Coast.


This text is retrieved from: ICMPD, MC2CM, (2016). City Migration Profile: Tunis; Mediterranean City-to-City Migration; Dialogue, Knowledge and Action.

Other Sources

Stambouli, F. (1996). Tunis city in transition; Environment & Urbanization, 8(1).


MC2CM Publications
City Migration Profile Executive Summary
City Practice Poster
Attachment Size
City Practice Poster - Tunis 877.13 KB
General Overview
Political and Administrative Context

Tunis is the capital of Tunisia and is the most populated municipality in the Tunis governo- rate. It is comprised of 15 delegations: Bab El Bhar, Bab Souika, Cité El Khadra, Djebel Jelloud, El Kabaria, El Menzah, El Omrane, El Omrane supérieur, El Ouardia, Ettahrir, Ezzouhour, Hraïria, Médina, Séjoumi and Sidi El Béchi.

City and Migrant Population Data
Total population 638 845 (City of Tunis)
1 071 400 (Gouvernorat de Tunis)
Migrant population 4 791 new immigrants in 2009-2014*
Year 2014
Source INS, Recensement Général de la Population et de l’Habitat 2014 & MC2CM City profile
Metadata *The total number of immigrants living in the city is unknown
City Migration Profile Executive Summary - Tunis
Tunis Migration Poster