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In post-revolutionary Tunisia, 'it's (still) the economy, stupid.'

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In Tunisia, creating jobs is no easy task. Tunisia’s economy has suffered a double-whammy since former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled last year, with tourism and foreign investment dented both by the turmoil of revolution and crisis in eurozone countries that are Tunisia’s main trading partners.

With the downturn, the country's once steadily-growing real GDP turned negative, declining 1.8 percent last year. While growth this year is expected to pick up, government plans to spend big on job creation still depend on foreign help. Loans of $500 million each from the World Bank and African Development Bank announced last week are the latest examples.

For now, economic trouble has kept unemployment high at 17 percent, only a slight improvement from last year's 19 percent and a figure that gets higher among young people and in depressed towns such as Siliana. 

The town lies in farming country around 70 miles southwest of Tunis, where the land tilts upward toward mountains running from Morocco to Tunisia.

The relative wealth of Tunisia’s bustling coastal cities contrasts with lethargy in the interior. It was in a similar inland town, Sidi Bouzid, that protests in December 2010 over unemployment and state corruption swelled into the uprising that unseated Mr. Ben Ali a month later.

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