What is meant by the description of Carthage as a commercial "empire"?
This question is from the textbook "The Earth and Its People: A Global History" (chapter 3)
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Carthage is described in this way because it did not actually directly rule most of the places that were part of its "empire."
In a traditional empire, the imperial government has direct control of the various parts of its empire. Rome was like this, with all of its provinces being ruled from Rome. But Carthage was different. The various parts of its empire were mostly independent. They relied on Carthage for defense and did what it said in terms of foreign policy. However, Carthage did not rule them. It traded with them and its wealth made it powerful. Therefore, it was a commercial "empire."
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