Libya’s earliest inhabitants were the semi-nomadic Berbers, whose descendants still live throughout North Africa’s Atlas Mountains. Phoenician merchants from the Levant began to settle in what is today Libya from around 1000 BC and they founded Carthage in what is now Tunisia in 814 BC. Carthage became the leading port in the western Mediterranean, extending its influence over Libya and most of coastal North Africa for the next five centuries. The port of Oea (now Tripoli) was founded by Phoenicians around 500 BC. Greek traders settled in the Cyrenaica region (eastern Libya) in the seventh century BC, founding Cyrene in 630 BC. Roman settlements appeared in Libya in the third century BC, growing in importance following Rome’s sacking of Carthage in 146 BC. The port of Leptis Magna was founded in Tripolitania in the first century AD, becoming a major centre of commerce until it fell to the Vandals early in the fifth century.
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