Evacuation Day is celebrated every October 15 by Tunisians to commemorate the anniversary of the final retreat of the French army from Tunisian land in 1963. This holiday is a national event in Tunisia, and the country celebrates with parades and official processions in every state. People also honor the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the Bizerte Crisis. The Bizerte Crisis was a three-day battle between French and Tunisian forces for Bizerte. Although the French colonists had granted Tunisia their independence at the time, they had maintained their naval base at Bizerte and hoarded portions of very fertile Tunisian lands. Tunisia was prompted to act in its interest.
History of Tunisia: Evacuation Day
Tunisia became a French protectorate in 1883, during a period of rapid colonization of the African continent by European powers termed “The scramble for Africa”. With an army of 36,000 soldiers, the French invaded Tunisia and forced its ruler at the time to sign a treaty granting France authority over Tunisia.
Although Tunisia gained independence in 1956, the French maintained control of the city of Bizerte, which is south of Sicily, for obvious strategic reasons. Furthermore, France retained land in Tunisia’s most fertile areas.
In a move to seize control from the French and prompt their evacuation, Tunisian forces declared a blockade on the French naval base at Bizerte in July 1961. In response to the blockade, 800 French paratroopers were sent in as a blatant show of strength. The battle that ensued between Tunisian forces and French paratroopers led to a full-scale French invasion of Bizerte. Eventually, the French ceded the city and the naval base to Tunisia in 1963.
Evacuation Day commemorates the departure of the last French soldiers from Bizerte on October 15th, 1963, marking the end of French colonial control in Tunisia. On that day, French Admiral Maurice Amman departed the city, alongside every French soldier.
Tunisia: Evacuation Day timeline
France invades Tunisian territory and compels its leader to sign a treaty.
Tunisia evolves into a sovereign state.
Tunisia attempts to recover Bizerte from the French.
The French relinquish control of Bizerte and leave Tunisia for good.
Tunisia: Evacuation Day FAQs
Which language do Tunisians speak?
Arabic is Tunisia’s official language.
Can you wear shorts in Tunisia?
Both women and men can wear shorts in Tunisia.
Can you kiss in public in Tunisia?
Public displays of affection between couples can get one arrested in Tunisia.
How to Observe Tunisia: Evacuation Day
Evacuation Day in Tunisia offers a great opportunity to educate people about the cruel history of European colonization in Africa. You can share articles, posts, and videos about this topic on social media.
Learn about Tunisia
Take out time to learn more about Tunisia. Reading articles and watching documentaries about its rich history, culture, and traditions may be a good way to start.
Stream celebrations via the internet
You can watch the annual celebrations in Tunisia online. There are parades, carnivals, and other cultural festivities you may delight in observing.
5 Interesting Facts About Tunisia
Second largest African museum
The Bardo National Museum in Tunisia is the second largest museum in Africa.
Largest colosseum in North Africa
The largest colosseum in North Africa is located in Tunisia.
Town of underground dwellers
Matmata, a small town in Tunisia, has underground houses that people built to escape the extreme heat of the Sahara Desert.
Stone Age discovery
Archaeologists found animal bones and tools dating back to the Stone Age in Kebili, Tunisia.
Important Islamic city
The Tunisian city of Kairouan is the fourth most important city in the Islamic world after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
Why Tunisia: Evacuation Day is Important
A reminder to maintain political stability
Evacuation Day in Tunisia was declared a national holiday after the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. The price for peace has been high, and this day reminds citizens of the need to maintain it.
An important chapter in Tunisian history
We get to safeguard a part of Tunisian history by commemorating this holiday. The people of Tunisia have come a long way as a country, and we will continue to honor their heritage.
A celebration of liberty
Tunisians fought against foreign oppression and control. This day offers a chance to glorify their hard-earned liberty.
Tunisia: Evacuation Day dates