The Carthaginians were 8th century BC Phoenician emigrants who fled from the Persian-held city of Tyre and sought to fashion their own identity in the fertile peninsula of northern Africa. The effort of these refugees was realized in the foundation Carthage. The Romans knew the people of Carthage as "Poeni", a derivation of the word "Phoenicians", from which the adjective "Punic" is also derived. Carthage is located in modern-day Tunisia, bordered by Algeria, Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea. Located roughly center of the triangular Cap Bon peninsula, it is surrounded by low hills and backed by the lake of Tunis, allowing for safe anchorage and an abundant supply of fish. The resulting city site was well protected, and easily defensible. Carthaginian control extended as far southwest as Theveste in northern Algeria; throughout which, a thriving agriculture developed.
The actual stages of growth in Carthaginian power are unknown, but the process was largely complete by the start of the 4th century BC. Ancient sources indicate that Carthage had perhaps become the richest city in the world via trade in perishable goods such as textiles, un-worked metals, food, and slaves. Tin, silver, gold, and iron were obtained in exchange for these manufactured and consumer goods. Carthage maintained a monopoly of trade from the 6th to 3rd century BC by sinking all intruders and exacting recognition of its position from neighboring Mediterranean states. This wealth was attested by the vast mercenary armies it was able to maintain with a mintage of gold coins far exceeding that known for any other advanced state of its time.
The First Punic War between Rome and Carthage resulted from attempts to garner control over lands and trade routes through Corsica and Sicily. Carthaginians intervened in a dispute between the two principal cities on the Sicilian coast, Messana and Syracuse, in order to establish their presence on the island. Rome responded by attacking Messana, forcing the Carthaginians to withdraw and later surrender, ceding Sicily and the Lipari islands to Rome. The great Carthaginian general, Hamilcar, led Carthage against Rome in the First Punic War, and his son Hannibal was made to swear eternal hostility against Rome at an early age as well. From the death of Hamilcar in 229 BC until his own death in 183 BC, Hannibal’s life was one of constant struggle against the Roman Republic. Hannibal made good on his oath by instigating a second Punic war.
During the Second Punic War Hannibal established base in Spain, from which he could wage war against Rome. Hannibal refused Rome’s demand to withdraw from the Iberian Peninsula, and Rome renewed war on Carthage once again. Rome controlled the Sea, forcing Hannibal to lead his army overland through Spain, Gaul, and the Alps to reach Rome. After this spectacularachievement, Hannibal undermined Rome through battlefield tactics and shrewd political maneuvering. Once Hannibal’s hold over northern Italy was established he maintained it until 203 BC, when he was ordered to return to Africa. Roman forces maintained pressure on Carthaginian strongholds, however, and eventually forced the Carthaginians out of Spain. Carthage accepted the terms of peace, surrendering its navy and ceded Spain as well as the Mediterranean islands to Rome.
The first and second Punic wars effectively deprived Carthage of its political power, but did nothing to quell its commercial trade, which continued to expand rapidly. This inevitably drew the envy of Rome’s growing mercantile community, and was reason enough for the Roman Republic to goad the people of Carthage into one final war. Despite determined and ingenious resistance against a siege that lasted for two years, Carthage fell. The third and final war between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginians resulted in the final destruction of Carthage, the enslavement of its population, and Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean.
In Civilization III: Play the World, the Carthaginians are considered an Industrious and Commercial civilization, therefore, they start with Alphabet and Masonry, and have significant bonuses to trade and construction activities.
Unique Unit: The Numidian Mercenary
Carthage maintained a monopoly of trade from the 6th to 3rd century BC by sinking all intruders and exacting recognition of its position from neighboring Mediterranean states. This wealth was attested by the vast mercenary armies it was able to maintain with a mintage of gold coins far exceeding that known for any other advanced state of its time. While frequently led by Carthaginian soldiers, the majority of the Carthaginian armies was comprised of mercenaries. Celts and Iberians contributed large numbers of infantry and horsemen, but Numidian Infantry dominated their ranks. These Numidian mercenaries were equipped with loot from assorted engagements against Rome, and were generally regarded as capable soldiers and spearmen. Numidian Mercenaries replace Spearmen as the first and best defensive units of the Bronze Age for the Carthaginians and have an increased attack ability.