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Their country was a narrow strip of the Syrian coast, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) long and 20 miles (32 kilometers) wide.

The area now comprises Lebanon and parts of Syria and Israel.

They founded many colonies, the greatest being Carthage.

The Phoenicians began to develop as a seafaring, manufacturing, and trading nation when the Cretans--the first masters of the Mediterranean--were overthrown by the Greeks (see Aegean Civilization).

Not only did they take the fine wares of the Eastern nations to the Western barbarians, but they also became skilled in making such wares themselves--especially metalwork, glass, and cloth.

Their territory was so small that the Phoenicians were forced to turn to the sea for a living.

They became the most skillful shipbuilders and navigators of their time.