What Was Tunisia Called in Ancient Times?

Tunisia, located in North Africa, has a rich and vibrant history that dates back to ancient times. With its strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea, it has been home to various civilizations throughout history.

But what was Tunisia called in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The Phoenician Era: Carthage

The Phoenicians were a seafaring people who established colonies around the Mediterranean Sea in the 12th century BCE. They founded the city of Carthage on the coast of modern-day Tunisia in the 9th century BCE. Carthage became a powerful city-state and an important trading center, controlling much of the Western Mediterranean.

During this time, Tunisia was known as “Punic” or “Punica” by its inhabitants. This term comes from the Latin word “Punicus,” which means “Phoenician.” The Punic language was spoken in Carthage and other Phoenician colonies in North Africa.

The Roman Era: Africa Proconsularis

In 146 BCE, Rome defeated Carthage and took control of Tunisia. The region became part of the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. The Romans renamed Tunisia “Africa Proconsularis,” which means “Africa governed by a proconsul.”

Under Roman rule, Tunisia flourished as an agricultural and commercial center. Many impressive structures were built during this time, including amphitheaters, temples, baths, and aqueducts. Some of these ancient ruins still stand today.

The Arab Conquest: Ifriqiya

In 647 CE, Arab armies invaded North Africa and conquered Tunisia. They established the Islamic Caliphate and renamed Tunisia “Ifriqiya,” which is derived from the Berber word for “Africa.”

During this time, Tunisian culture became heavily influenced by Islamic traditions. Many impressive mosques and palaces were built, including the Great Mosque of Kairouan, which is considered one of the most important Islamic monuments in North Africa.


Throughout history, Tunisia has been known by various names depending on the ruling power of the time. From Punic to Africa Proconsularis to Ifriqiya, each era has left its mark on Tunisian culture and history.

Today, Tunisia is a modern nation that proudly preserves its rich heritage and traditions. Visitors can explore ancient ruins, bustling cities, and scenic landscapes that reflect Tunisia’s diverse past.