Carthage is today a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, with a population of 20,715 (2004 census), and was the centre of the Carthaginian Empire in antiquity. The city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire.
The first civilization that developed within the city's sphere of influence is referred to as Punic (a form of the word "Phoenician") or Carthaginian. The city of Carthage is located on the eastern side of Lake Tunis across from the centre of Tunis. According to Greek historians it was founded by Canaanite-speaking Phoenician colonists from Tyre (in modern Lebanon) under the leadership of Elissa who was renamed (Queen Dido) in Virgil's Aeneid. It became a large and rich city and thus a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse, Numidia, and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other's homeland.
Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War culminated in the Carthaginian victory at Cannae and led to a serious threat to the continuation of Roman rule over Italy; however, Carthage emerged from the conflict weaker after Hannibal's defeat at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. Following the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. However, the Romans refounded Carthage, which became the Empire's fourth most important city and the capital of the short-lived Vandal kingdom. It remained one of the most important Roman cities until the Muslim conquest when it was destroyed a second time in 698