The Republic of Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa. Situated in the Maghreb region, the country is bordered by Libya to the southeast, Algeria to the southwest and west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east and north. It extends to the eastern tip of the Atlas Mountains and the northern end of the Sahara desert. Although it is small, Tunisia has a diverse nature with a Mediterranean climate in the south and desert in the south.
Tunisia was a de facto autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire until May 12, 1881, when it became a French protectorate. Algerian banknotes were used in the country until the Bank of Algeria set up a branch in Tunis on January 8, 1904. The bank introduced the “Blue Issues” which are Algerian notes overprinted with “TUNISIE” for circulation in Tunisia. These notes have hues of blue and feature allegorical figures. The practice of overprinting Algerian notes went on until 1945. In 1946, the bank started issuing notes with engraved “TUNISIE” rather than an overprint. When the bank changed its name to Bank of Algeria and Tunisia on December 16, 1948, it issued banknotes for circulation in each country. These notes have Greek and Roman mythology-inspired designs.
On March 20, 1956, the country gained its independence from France. The Central Bank of Tunisia was established on September 19, 1958, and on November 3, 1958, it introduced the country’s new currency, the Tunisian dinar. The first issues of the Tunisian dinar banknotes depict a portrait of Habib Bourguiba who served as the first president of the independent Republic of Tunisia. It was stated in the book “The Highest Perfection: A History of De La Rue” that all of these banknotes were originally ordered from Bradbury, Wilkinson, & Company, but the Tunisian ambassador to the United Kingdom agreed to split the order between De La Rue and BWC. Later on, De La Rue became the sole supplier of Tunisian banknotes. The notes were reissued several times with changes in colors and enhanced security features.
The Central Bank of Tunisia started issuing notes that bear all-new designs and color schemes after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown on January 14, 2011.