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Carthage (from the Phoenician Kart-Hadasht, the "New City", written without vowels in Punic as Qrthdst), was an ancient city in north Africa located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis, across from the center of modern Tunis in Tunisia. It remains a popular tourist attraction.

In approximately 814 BC, Carthage was founded by Phoenician settlers from the city of Tyre, bringing with them the city-god Melqart. Traditionally, the city was founded by Dido, and a number of foundation myths have survived through Greek and Roman literature.

Carthage's early years were defined by a long rivalry between the landholding and maritime families. In general, due to the city's dependence on maritime trade, the maritime faction controlled the government, and during the 6th century BC, Carthage began to acquire dominance over the Western Mediterranean. Merchants and explorers established a vast network of trade, bringing wealth and power to the city-state. In the early 6th century BC, Hanno the Navigator is supposed to have sailed down the African coast, perhaps as far as Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, under a leader named Malchus, the city began a systematic conquest of both the African interior and the coastal lands.

By the beginning of the 5th century BC, Carthage was the commercial center of the region, a position it would retain until overthrown by the Roman Republic. The city had conquered the territory of the old Phoenician colonies, such as Hadrumetum, Utica and Kerkouane, and the Libyan tribes, spreading its control along the North African coast from modern Morocco to the borders of Egypt. Its influence had also spread into the Mediterranean, with control over Sardinia, Malta, the Balearic Islands and the western half of Sicily. Colonies had also been established in Iberia.

The Roman attack on the Carthaginian forces at Messana triggered the first of the Punic Wars. Over the course of the next century, these three major conflicts between Rome and Carthage would determine the course of Western civilization.

-The First Punic War (264 BC to 241 BC)
-The Second Punic War (218 BC to 202 BC)
-The Third Punic War (149 BC to 146 BC)

Rome consistently triumphed over Carthage during the Punic Wars. The end of the Third Punic War resulted in the end of Carthaginian power and the complete destruction of the city by Scipio Aemilianus: Roman soldiers went from house to house, slaughtering the people of Carthage and enslaving any who survived. Carthage's harbor was burned and the city razed.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Carthage".