The Punic wars were a series of conflicts between Rome and Carthage during the period from 264 BC to 146 BC. The reason for the name has to do with the history of Carthage.
According to ancient Roman poets and historians, Carthage was founded in approximately 1200 BC by colonists from the Phoenician city of Tyre (Punic is a corruption of the word Phoenician). Modern archaeological evidence suggests that a date sometime in the ninth century is actually more probable. Located in modern Tunisia, on the north coast of Africa, Carthage was a sea power that had a sphere of influence ranging across the western Mediterranean and Sicily, bringing it into conflict with Rome as Rome expanded southwards.
The first Punic War (264 to 241 BC) was mainly concerned with control over Sicily, which included at that time, Greek, Roman, and Carthaginian areas of influence. Rome won, and Carthage withdrew from Sicily.
In the second Punic war (218 to 201 BC) Hannibal crossed the Alps and invaded Italy, but eventually Rome conquered much of the territory controlled by Carthage.
The third Punic War (149 to 146 BC) ended with the complete destruction of Carthage.