Some 25 centuries ago, Carthage, in today's Tunisia, was one of the most important seaports in the world. Tradition says it was founded by Queen Dido of Phoenicia as early as the ninth century B.C. Three centuries later, it was the capital of its own nation and had colonies throughout North Africa; it also acquired Mediterranean islands and parts of the West African coast. This tremendous expansion led to conflict with other states in the area, in particular Rome and Greece (from whom Carthage eventually won the island of Sicily). Carthaginian ships traded slaves, silver, wheat and more as far away as the Baltic and the Gulf of Guinea. For 118 years, Rome and Carthage were involved in conflict over control of the Mediterranean; the three Punic wars eventually led to Carthage's demise in 146 B.C. Carthage was rebuilt by Julius Caesar and Augustus, and flourished again for many years until Tunis overtook it as the chief city of the region.
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