Tunisia’s earliest inhabitants included the seminomadic Berbers, whose descendants still live in North Africa’s Atlas Mountains. Phoenician merchants established trading settlements throughout the central and western Mediterranean from the 10th century BC and founded the port of Carthage in 814 BC. By the 5th century Carthage had become the most powerful city in the western Mediterranean with an empire extending from present-day Morocco to Egypt and controlling Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, Malta and much of Sicily. A rival to the Roman Empire, the city was eventually destroyed in the Third Punic War. From 146 BC Tunisia was absorbed into the Roman Empire and its people sold into slavery.
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