This chapter presents a historical overview of the Roman Empire in North Africa. Roman Africa was the roughly 2,500- kilometer-long coastal plain between the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean, stretching from the Gulf of Gabes in Libya to the Moroccan Atlantic. This region was known in antiquity for its agricultural wealth. The recurrent theme in its history is a willingness to adopt outside influences quickly and seemingly completely. No other region of the Roman Empire embraced Roman civic institutions so enthusiastically, and no other part of the western empire converted to Christianity so rapidly—and marked the religion permanently with its interpretations. Western North Africans reacted to imperialism not by withdrawing from the world, but by transforming foreign institutions and concepts in their own interest, thereby giving them universal applicability.
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