Most of the fertile land of Africa Vetus was bought by speculating Roman noblemen after it was confiscated from the Cartheginians. Africa was notorious for having the largest latifundia in Rome. By the first century after Christ, the large estates had been divided into individual holding owned by private landowners, the largest landowner being the emperor. Peasants usually lived on a persons land, farming it at the cost of one third their produce and a few days work at the landowners home farm.
Many cities' ruins seem to contain only comparatively rich houses, suggesting they were used mostly as centers of assembly and entertainment by the country population. One sixth of the population of North Africa lived in a town of some type or another. Most of those who lived in town did so by profiting off the labor of the five sixths who did not.
Even the most modest of cities could provide that which was the hallmark of being a Roman upper class citizen; a good education. The sons of the rich and those lucky enough to have a patron were never wanting for a place to receive a primer in learning. Carthage was the place of higher education in Africa, but most aspired to travel to the Italian mainland or study in Athens.
By the third century after Christ, five to six hundred cities dotted the African province. Most cities could be classified as one of the following:
Coast cities made up the majority of metropolitan life in Africa. The only large inland cities were Volubilis, Jubas old capital in the far west, Cirta, strategically placed on a major crossroads, and Thysdrus, in the heart of the olive groves of Tunisia.
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