French and Italian migration to Tunisia dates from the French military occupation of 1881. There were 255,000 Europeans in Tunisia in 1956, but most have since left the country. With the conclusion of the Franco-Algerian war in 1962, 110,000 Algerian refugees returned to their homeland.
Internal migration constitutes a serious problem. Rural unemployment has caused significant population movement to urban centers, where conditions are often harsh. Since 1964, the government has sought to decentralize industry and to resettle nomads and semi-nomads in permanent villages. Many Tunisians seek employment abroad; in the early 1990s there were approximately 350,000 Tunisian workers in foreign countries, mostly Libya and France.
In 1999, some 500 refugees and asylum-seekers, including Palestinians and various African nationalities, were under the care of UNHCR in Tunisia. The net migration rate in 2000 was -0.8 migrants per 1,000 population. The total number of migrants that year was 38,000. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.