The Punic Wars were a series of wars between the Carthaginians and the Roman Republic that would catalyze the growth of the Roman territorial holdings as well as shape the ancient world for centuries to come. Fought between the 3rd century BC and the 2nd century BC during the height of the Hellenistic Period, the Punic Wars saw the clash between the two superpowers of the western Mediterranean and the deciding of the fate for control over the vitally important trade routes.
The wealth and influence of Carthage was not minded by Rome at first. However, as time went on and both expanded in territory and influence the two started to come into conflict. Through a minor proxy war involving Italian mercenaries on Sicily, eventually the Punic Wars were set off which resulted in the final collapse of the Carthaginian culture and the decimation of their capital city and attempted erasure from history.
The name "Punic Wars" comes from the Latin name for the Carthaginians which was Punici which was derived from the Latin word for the Phoenicians, Phoenicis who were the parent culture for Carthage. The city of Carthage itself was established in 800 BC or so by Phoenician colonists from Tyre who were expanding throughout the Mediterranean along with the Greeks. There is no known Carthaginian name for this war as all their books were given to the Numidians save a treatise on agriculture and ultimately lost to history.
See First Punic War
This series of events was set into motion when Rome annexed some of the Phoenician colonies on Sicily and the mercenaries of Carthage responded. They lost in what became known as the First Punic War. This forced Carthage to begin paying a series of debts to Rome that would drain the coffers of Carthage while also allowing Rome to acquire more territories and strength.
See Second Punic War
The loss of the First Punic War led directly to the general Hannibal Barca invading Roman territory during the Second Punic War. The loss of this war spelled the end for the Punic and Carthaginian culture as they were unable to acquire enough resources in the Second Punic War to really finish the fight.
See Third Punic War
The Third Punic War saw the complete and utter decimation of the city of Carthage, much like that of Tyre before. With the destruction of this great city the Phoenician culture was scattered among the remaining small settlements that existed around the Mediterranean.