The Punics were a people from Ancient Carthage in modern-day Tunisia, North Africa, who traced their origins to Phoenicians and North African Berbers. Unlike other Phoenicians, Punics had a landowning aristocracy who established a rule of the hinterland in Northern Africa and trans-Sahara traderoutes. In later times one of these clans conquered a Hellenistic-inspired empire in Iberia, possibly having a foothold in western Gaul. Like other Phoenician people their urbanized culture and economy was strongly linked to the sea. Overseas they established control over some coastal regions of Berber North Africa like modern-day Tunisia and Tripolitania (modern-day Libya), Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, the Balearics, Malta, other small islands of the western Mediterranean and possibly along the Atlantic coast of Iberia, although this is disputed. In the Baleares, Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily they had strong economic and political ties to the independent natives in the hinterland. Their naval presence and trade extended throughout the Mediterranean to the British Isles, the Canaries, and West Africa. Technical achievements of the Punic people of Carthage include the development of uncolored glass and the use of lacustrine limestone to improve the purity of molten iron.
Most of the Punic culture was destroyed as a result of the Punic Wars fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 to 146 BC, while traces of language, religion and technology could still be found in Africa during the early Christianisation, 325 to 650 AD. After the Punic Wars, Romans used the term Punic as an adjective meaning treacherous.
In archaeological and linguistic usage Punic refers to a Hellenistic and later-era culture and dialect from Carthage that had developed into a distinct form from the Phoenician of the mother city of Tyre. Phoenicians also settled in Northwest Africa (the Maghreb) and other areas under Carthaginian rule and their culture and political organisation were a distinct form. Remains of the Punic culture can be found in settlements from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to Cyprus in the East.