Term for an ancient land area that extended as a coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea and included parts of the two states of Lebanon and Syria. The Semitic people of the Phoenicians (also Phoenicians or Phoenicians) immigrated here towards the end of the 3rd millennium. In the Bible the area is described by the Israelites as the "land of red purple" (grch. Phoinike = purple) because of the purple snail secretion used there for dyeing textiles. In the Bible the inhabitants are called Canaanites or after the name of their cities, mainly Sidonites. The Phoenicians who settled in North Africa (Carthage) were called Punians by the Romans. Phoenicia, however, was never a political entity, but consisted of several city-states. Important were Arados (Arwad), Berytos (Beirut), Byblos (Djebeil), Sidon (Sayda), Tripoli (Tarãbulus), Tyros (Sur) and Ugurit (Latakia). Until 1200 BC the Phoenicians were under the cultural and political influence of Egypt, then the two cities of Sidon and Tyros gained a dominant position.