Ancient Carthage was located near the site of modern Tunis. Its most famous leader was Hannibal (247–183 BC ), the general who campaigned in Italy for several years (218–211 BC ) but who was defeated by the Romans under Scipio Africanus at Zama in 202 BC . The dominant figure of modern Tunisia was Habib Bourguiba (Habib bin 'Ali ar-Rugaybah, 1903–2000); he led Tunisia to independence, formed its first government, and was president from 1957 to 1987. Mongi Slim (1908–69) served as president of the 16th session of the UN General Assembly (1961–62). Mohamed Mzali (b. 1925) has served in numerous government posts, including prime minister in 1980–86. Gen. Zine el 'Abidine Ben 'Ali (b. 1936) assumed the presidency in 1987.
Tunisia's noteworthy literary figures include Albert Memmi (b.1915), the author of The Statue of Salt (1957), who writes in French; and Mahmoud Messadi (b.1911), who writes in Arabic. Prominent Tunisian painters are Ammar Farhat (b. 1911) and Jallah bin 'Abdallah (b. 1921).