A 17th-century map by the Dutch cartographer Jan Janssonius showing the Barbary Coast, here "Barbaria"
The term Barbary Coast (also Barbary, Berbery or Berber Coast) was used by Europeans from the 16th century to the early 19th to refer to the coastal regions of North Africa, specifically the modern nations of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
The term was coined in reference to the Greco-Roman view of barbarians as people beyond the realm of civilization. Between the 16th and 19th century North Africa was a major center for piracy and privateering. Emerging European powers thus associated a ‘barbarian’ status to the Muslim and Ottoman rulers and peoples, hence Barbary Coast.
Purchase of Christian captives in the Barbary States
The first military land action overseas by the United States was executed by the US Marines and the US Navy, was the Battle of Derna, Tripoli, a coastal town now in eastern Libya, in April 1805. It formed part of an effort to destroy all Barbary pirates, to free American slaves in captivity, and end piracy acts between the warring tribes on the part of the Barbary states, which were themselves member states of the Ottoman Empire. The opening line of the Marines' Hymn refers to this action: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli..." It was the first time that the US Marine Corps took part in offensive actions outside the United States.