Sfax second city and economic center of Tunisia, is a port city in the east located approximately 270 kilometers from Tunis. With its industries and its port, the city plays a key economic role with the export of olive oil and fresh or frozen fish. Sfax is a business city and has some tourist-oriented sites, such as the Medina and Thyna, despite the presence of phosphate processing plants.
The central core of the agglomeration formed a Medina surrounded by ramparts (rbat) and a modern city, born under the French protectorate of Tunisia, and including the town hall and the train station. The office districts are extended by a vast port complex active since 1897 (commercial port, fishing and passenger). In 1984 company is a large-scale renovation of part of the modern city land area of Sfax El Jadida (new Sfax). This is before a fallow area of disused cemeteries. In addition, Medina has become a space where we live less and who specializes in economic output (this is called “soukalisation”). The people have left in search of larger units. Thus, this space has only 3812 inhabitants in 1998 against 10,668 in 1956.
Sfax is the first commercial port of Tunisia in terms of traffic (2000) and the second in terms of value. The port has two characteristics: it is one of the few places in the Mediterranean where the tidal range exceeds 1.50 meters and two equinoxes and sheltered onshore winds by the Kerkennah Islands and senior Gulf funds Gabes mitigating the effects of waves, no pier or breakwater are needed. Despite the significant maritime trade with the Kerkennah and the rest of the country, the port is reduced until 1886 to a simple wooden jetty fifty meters long. An artificial harbor is dug in the sand and opened to traffic in 1891. But the exploitation of phosphates makes it fast enough and a new port widened. As in Tunis, the dredging products used to gain ground on the sea as all major Tunisian ports, Sfax suffered during the Tunisian campaign. Afrika Korps blew up a part of the quays before retreating April 11 1943. fishing also occupies a prominent place in the regional economy with a fleet of about 300 shrimp trawlers, fifty tuna seiners, 1,500 motor boats and sailing boats to 2000. The city produces about 25 000 tonnes of fish per year, a third of the national production. Much of this fishery is exported abroad (10 000 tonnes) or 70% of Tunisia’s exports of seafood.
The surrounding areas are for their part focused on agriculture as their main resource: with six million feet of olive trees – some dating from Roman times – and almost five million almond trees, the governorate of Sfax ranks and first among producing regions of olive oil (38.5% with more than 200 000 tonnes) and almonds. Livestock are an equally important sector of the regional economy. With 340,000 sheep, 50,000 goats and almost 30 000 cattle, the region occupies a prominent place in this area. A dairy industry has taken hold in the wake of this intensive farming and it accounts for 75 000 tons of milk per year.